The village I am living in (and where Heather lives) is called Casabasciana. It is a village on top of a mountain, located in the Province of Bagni di Lucca. Today was a work day for me and while Heather was out giving a honeymoon couple a private tour, I was busy doing some marketing work for her company. I finished up early, and decided to leave the compound (I say this jokingly of course, but it somewhat resembles a little fortress) and go explore the village in which I will be spending a couple months.
I took my first right out of the the courtyard and took the long steps down to where they end. I was amazed. Some astonishing views from here. There was the antiquated lavoratorio where, long ago, the villagers would go to wash their clothes (prior to the introduction of the electric washing machines). I am told that some of the older villagers still use it.
I went back up the cobblestone stairs to the central piazza where most villagers will gather at some point at the local cafe to grab an espress and talk. The man who owns the grocery store (upstairs) also owns the cafe (downstairs). I quickly made friends with some of the villagers who wanted to know who I was and how I found myself up on that mountain. I had a beer and a cigarette and one of the oldest men there, Basilio, pulled up a chair next to me and he chatted about everything while I listened…from his quick romance with a french woman in the village to his views on each of the Popes we have had. We watched as two little puppies play. Time went by quickly and I explained I needed to take my photos before it got dark. By the end, he made sure to tell me that now he has a friend in St. Louis. Interestingly enough, I noticed the words he was using were different that when I converse in Italian. Heather educated me on the fact that when you first meet someone and even if you have met several times, you use formal sentence structures until, at some point, one of you asks the other if you can start using the informal structure (that you now know each other well enough to be informal).
I continued up the stairs and found the village church and was standing in front of what i thought was the entrance. I didn’t even hear his footsteps when Basilio pops up and explains that the entry I was looking at was the old entrance for the women (not used anymore). The men would sit in front while the women sat in the back. I continued on my way alone making my way through the maze of the walkways through the village.
“Molto tranquillo”, I thought to myself, this life up on the mountain of Casabasciana.