Ciao!

 My favorite Italian scene took place at a public pool in Florence (it was 99 degrees and we decided to go were the locals do to beat the heat). It was crowded with young people mostly, and a few tourists, actually, maybe two tourists-us- . The life guards were teenagers, boys and girls, who looked so cool in their shades and swim suits and tans, as young lifeguards do everywhere but Italians can really pull off. The pool was in front of an old yellow and white villa turned club house and surrounded by a narrow tiled patio. The shallow end had a ladder, rather than steps, and was about five feet deep. I was surprised when a woman who was older than I am managed to reach poolside pushing her elderly mother in a wheelchair (she called her Mama). I had no idea how they'd get in the pool, and it was too hot to be there without taking a cool dip. They both wore swim suits. As soon as they set the brakes on the wheels, three of the lifeguards arrived and tenderly lifted Mama out of her chair and into the water where her daughter stood reaching for her. The kids held the old woman like a baby, and the daughter hugged her to her wet chest like a mother would, and when they were settled everyone was laughing and smiling. A lifeguard handed them an orange life ring, which was placed over the old woman's head and tucked under her arms, and in this way the pair walked and "swam" back and forth, for nearly an hour, until it was time to reverse the whole process and those really cool lifeguards hoisted the slippery gal up and out and into her chair, with grace and dignity. It was so sweet, and so intimate, and so publicly beautiful that I cried. That's Italy for me now. I think too, that it's so very good to know how powerful a simple kind act can be.

I do have a postcard for you of more typical Italian scenes. My daughter JJ and I visited Rome, Florence, Cinque Terra, and Venice. Churches, museums, walking, opera, hiking, swimming, more churches, cooking class, eating, more eating, more music, more churches. More statues and frescos. Anchovies, pasta, calamari, cured meats, ragu, pizza, brioche, risotto. Wine. Espresso. Wine. Fruit. Tiramisu. Beaches, boats, trains. Olive oil and bread. It was wonderful, but it's also nice to be home again.

 

 

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