Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The other day while getting my hair cut I happened to mention that my favorite band of our three night festa had been the one from the last night, La Macchina del Kapo everyone in the shop chimed in approvingly....it seemed to be a given that La Macchina del Kapo was far and away the best band, the most energetic and the most fun. The young woman who was sweeping up told me that they were going to be back in San Venanzo in September. When I asked if we were having yet another festa, the answer was yes! I commented that it was amazing how much San Venanzo was growing, but of course everyone there is well aware of that fact.

Later in the week I stopped by to ask our neighbor Adamo about his vacation. I knew he'd gone to the sea for a week, but then he'd left for another short vacation. His housekeeper wasn't sure what cities he was visiting, only that they were north of Florence. Adamo is very well educated and very interested in history, so I was hoping he'd visited some interesting places (as if there are places in Italy that aren't interesting!).

Adamo told me he'd visited Parma
and Mantova (aka Mantua).  He told me about the Farnesi palace and the fact that Montova is a medieval city, home to the famous Gonzaga family. He told me it was an easy drive straight up the A1, and recommended that Art and I consider a visit. This area, Emilia Romagna, is known for it's food. Parma, not surprisingly, is home to Parma ham...and Parmesan cheese.

I told him that at the moment the dollar was continuing it's downhill slide, and the conversation turned to the economy. As we discussed the mortgage disaster in the states and rising costs in Italy, Adamo pointed out to me that San Venanzo was less affected by the recent price increases. Of course San Venanzo is a farming community, and everyone or their brother has an orto, or vegetable garden. People raise chickens and someone in the family makes wine, or cheese. If a family member doesn't raise their own cows, or sheep or goats, then a neighbor does, so the supply is not only close, but also cheap.

When I told Adamo how much we loved San Venanzo, and how we were hoping someone who loved it as much as we did would buy our house, he nodded in agreement. He said one of the things that makes San Venanzo so strong are the families. Grandparents are here, if not in the same house, then just around the corner, offering childcare for the grandchildren while the parents work. The children of San Venanzo are also an indication of the town's life...a town with no small children is a dying town, and San Venanzo has plenty of children to keep it lively and interesting.

We talked about how new businesses are springing up in San Venanzo...the news agent has just move into a larger shop, the ironmaker opened his new shop last year, the bakery is expanding, and soon Giacomo's real estate office will be open across from the church. The restored palazzo that houses our comune is now surrounded by the restored park, a place where we can once again hold town functions with room to spare. (During the restoration of the comune and it's park the functions were held in the church hall and adjoining church yard, but space was definitely at a premium.)

I did tell Adamo that we'd love to explore the area around Parma and Mandova, and shared with him our idea of making an extending vacation once the house is sold. He asked if we preferred to sell to Americans, but of course I told him it didin't matter to us, and that because of the dollar perhaps the house would sell to Europeans. We have lots of Dutch and German tourists in this area, and of course the English discovered Umbria many years ago.

Anyway, in the meantime, we'll continue to enjoy our life here, and look forward to yet another festa in September.

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