RITORNO A SETTEFRATI
English version Italian version
IN THE SQUARE
When I woke up, I was not able to orient myself. It took me a moment before I remembered that I was at home in Settefrati in my bedroom the one that I had
slept in as a child, next to my grandmother.
Now I am wide awake, rested and hungry. I go downstairs; in the fridge there is a little bit of everything thanks to my friend Lina who took care of it. This is how we do it when we come back here from the States: the first one that arrives prepares a little something for the friends who come later. There is a strong feeling of fellowship among us. We feel more friendship for each other here than we do in America. After eating, showering and changing the clothes that I have been wearing for two days, I look outside. It is late afternoon and the square is filling up with people. The men gather outside the bar to play cards, as they usually do in the afternoon, while the women go to church for the evening mass, vespers. Vespers is just its nominal title; it is celebrated in the afternoon (not evening) when people come home from work. This is what the priest says, but when I go to the service, there are just a few of us and not one of us works. Lina stopped by my house says: hi, and tells me that she had come earlier knocking to wake me up but she couldn’t wake me no matter how loudly she knocked. Of course: I was sleeping like a rock!
The sky over Settefrati becomes overcast as massive dark clouds roll in, which obscures the sun over the square. I feel a cold shiver down my spine. Finally, the dark clouds roll away but they are soon followed by other white clouds. Then darker clouds reappear and a shadow is cast over the bell tower, the square and even reaches my house, with the shadow being cast over me as well. I shudder and I have a bad feeling. NO! I try to fight that feeling. After I bit, the cloud move away and the nice clear weather is back. While I am still contemplating what to do, the young prelate, Don Antonio, passes by. He is young, dynamic and in charge of all the churches of the area, as well as rector of the Sanctuary of Canneto. The evening mass, which he has to celebrate, is starting in a few minutes and so he is walking rapidly towards the church. Then, when he sees me, he slows down and asks: “Are you coming?” “Not tonight”, I reply.
That very night the square is crowded with people. Several groups are formed: one is sitting under the porch on the side of one of the bars. Another is on the other side of the square and the rest are at the tables in the square.
People of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, have come to socialize in the square. Even grandparents with their grandchildren have come; the latter are a bit restless and run up and down the square playing. The calls of their grandparents are ignored. At around 9, their moms, with a baby in a stroller, have come to the square for the passeggiata, where they will remain until late. The youngest children are calm and peaceful in the strollers at that time; it is clear they are used to that routine. It is impossible to make a comparison between these babies and babies in America. In America it is very rare to see a baby out of the house at that time. When the parents go out, babies are already sleeping with a baby sitter watching
Here, instead, it seems natural to stay out at that time. The older ones chase each other, play soccer and ride their bicycles. They call each other screaming out their names: Giacomo, Jacopo, Jennifer and other similar names. And where have all the traditional old names gone? -- Antonio, Giovannino, Angeluccio and Marietta -- Time has even changed the names. I notice that all the moms are wearing fashionable dresses, walking with ease in their very high heels. I do not know how they can be comfortable walking with them on the pavement. It also seems to me that there are more blond women than brunettes in the square.
Delia Socci Skidmore