My Italian lessons are done. Well, not really done, but my professor Alberto is heading off to the Val d’Aosta for two weeks, so I’m free for a little while. How are my language skills? Well, if the amount of homework Alberto gave me to work on in his absence is any indication, I’d say I have a lunga strada ahead. I am speaking much better now. I don’t always get the pronoun or the prepositions right, but as long as I don’t try to do anything fancy I can communicate pretty well. I’ll admit sometimes before class, I’ll prepare things to talk about so I sound a little more advanced than I am. Unfortunately, it’s like when you rehearse a message before leaving it on someone’s voicemail–it never sounds as good in actuality as it did in your head!
So what to do with my freedom? I decided to do a little research on the history of my town. I began my new book this week, which I hope will be an amusing look at my life here during the first year. Although, I’m posting some of this stuff for your reading pleasure, believe me there are many more embarrassing, frightening, sexy and funny stories that I haven’t detailed yet. When you consider that I’ve only been here about six weeks, it seems likely that I will continue to blunder and stumble my way along as I grow in my new life. Oh to have the serenity of Cinder who, when she is not chasing flies, or shaking uncontrollably on the couch when I tell her it’s time for a bath, appears to have totally embraced her retirement, or pensioni as I like to call it. She just had her first close-up yesterday, when a tourist from Tokyo asked if he could take her picture. I keep thinking if I can’t find work, perhaps I can charge for pictures with my spectacle of a dog!
So since I’m trying to flesh out what to write about, it seems prudent to learn a little more about my town. Sure, knowing that there is a super tasty cheese called pecoranzola which is a cross between pecorino and gorgonzola, is all well and good, but I feel slightly guilty as I walk by the beautiful churches and squares and have absolutely no idea of their history. In addition to my homework, Alberto made me buy two books written by Iris Origo, which detail her life here after World War II. Apparently, any scholar worth his salt would read these before attempting to write any sort of book on Montepulciano. As you might have guessed, Alberto feels strongly on this subject and we have had long discussions in class about the danger of writing books that the audience wants to read, as well as the tendency of Inglese authors to stereotype Italians. He is severely disapproving of Under the Tuscan Sun. I of course attempted to defend the book for although I’m sure Frances Mayes got on the money bandwagon with her succeeding books, I felt that the first book came from the heart. I didn’t tell him that of the twenty or so books that I selected to bring with me to Italy, this is one of them!!!
So now I have Ms. Origo’s two books with a historical perspective, but decided a trip to the Museo Civico might also be in order. I trekked up to Piazza Grande this morning. (It’s back to normal now since the filming of New Moon has finished. I’ll confess I just read the third book in the series because it’s one of about ten titles in English that were available at my little bookstore.)
The museum is small and has the usual array of Etruscan pottery and historic books from the area. There was a showing of Francesco Crociani’s collection of paintings and these gorgeous paintings are just hung on the wall like they were in your living room. You can put your nose right up to the canvas if you so desire. I took a few pictures as I wandered through. I also bought a book in English with a more detailed guide of the art and architecture of the town. I will try to visit some of the churches next week.
As I was sitting in Piazza Grande reading a little on the history of the piazza, Alberto walked over. (Did I mention the town is small–I only know four people, but I see them constantly?!) He leaves for his vacation in the morning, but couldn’t help asking if I was studying. “Sono una turista oggi,” I told him. I’m a tourist today. Then, since that didn’t seem to appease him, I told him I’d just been to the museum. I got a “Brava” for that and I guess now he can head off to hike and play and not worry that I’m not learning anything! Little does he know that my mind is preoccupied this week with the blind date that Laura has arranged for me. More details on that later.
Okay back to work!!