Real Life in Lucca

That’s what I’m living now.

Yesterday, when I posted “ho hum” I was feeling a tad despondent and homesick. I sent a message home and promptly got a barrage of support – so all is better now. And life in Lucca is wonderful. Sometimes new, sometimes ho hum, but that’s the beauty of it. If you are fortunate enough to stay for the newness to wear off – like I have – then you get down to living real life.

ImageThis morning started with the much-anticipated pick up of the new custom-made sketchbook. I purposely waited until late morning so I didn’t look so geek-y anxious, but Annamaria was ready for me when I got there. O.M.G – the thing is a gorgeous piece of artwork in itself.

ImageThe color of the leather is perfect (I love red!) and the cotton rag paper is to die for. The matching pencil case is wonderful. I actually took my colored pencils with me to the shop so Annamaria could see how they fit. Their normal case is about 5 inches less in the overall wrap and it just wasn’t big enough. So now I think they will be making more of my two items because they are the size an artist is looking for…

And each of my pieces are monogrammed – which was a gift from Annamaria to me. I am thrilled and just love seeing my initials on these gorgeous items.

And then a funny thing happened. Our talk turned to pizza (don’t know why) and Annamaria told me she goes to Napoli (Naples) at least once a year to visit her grandfather, who is in the pizza business. And Naples, of course, is the birthplace of pizza and supposedly the source of the greatest pizza in the world. They actually license vendors throughout the world to produce authentic Neopolitan pizza – Ellyn and I had some in Florida last year and it was fabulous!

Anyway, I asked Annamaria where her favorite pizza place in town was and she directed me to a small shop near Piazza Frediano. Then she said her parents have lunch there every Saturday because it is the closest to Napoli pizza you can get and they love it! Well, today is Saturday and I wanted to meet the man who made my custom sketchbook, so off I went.

ImageI would never have found this place on my own. Bella ‘Mbriana is down a side street that looks totally residential, so it is not somewhere I would have ventured. It is also “self serve” which means you place your order at the counter and they put it in the window when it is ready. You go and get it and take care of yourself. When finished, you take your dishes to a spot up front before you leave.

ImageI ordered the “Romantico” – which was simply ham and mushroom and fresh mozzarella. And a half bottle of white wine. I watched as the pizza got made and put in the wood oven. Man I love those wood ovens! How has that not caught on in the U.S.? It’s a crime!

Then I settled down with the new sketchbook and began to draw. I managed to eat half the pizza and then put the rest in my handy dandy take-away container – which no self-respecting Italiano ever has to do!

Finally, a group came in that I thought was the Capuozza family and they were very friendly. When I tried to speak to them, they kindly said “no inglese.” So I inquired, “Annamaria?” “Mi filia” said one of the ladies. So I held up the new sketchbook and she rushed over to me and hugged me. The other lady started shouting for her husband, “Antonio!” and more words I didn’t understand. Soon all four were surrounding me and looking at my sketchbooks, old and new, and chattering like magpies. I just smiled and nodded a lot.

ImageImageEventually they went back to their own table to eat and I finished my meal and got up to leave. But I had my camera ready and motioned to ask if I could have my photo with Mr. Capuozzi and the sketchbook. He was pleased. I couldn’t be more tickled.

And of course I had had someone take a photo of me and Annamaria with the book earlier. Isn’t she just a gorgeous thing? And she’s as friendly as can be. Every time I pass the shop I wave and she shouts “Ciao Starr!” and it puts a smile on my face.

And by the way…

I did ask Annamaria to translate my “letter” from the man in the restaurant last night. She was happy to, but it was a strange thing…

The first thing Annamaria said was that his italian was not very “educated.” He used words wrong, etc, but I explained that he had spent a long time writing the note and really labored over it. Annamaria read it through and got tears in her eyes.

“What does it say?” I asked in alarm.

“it is very sweet,” she replied. And then she went through it with me.

I don’t know the man’s name, but evidently he wrote from the heart. He said that he was born in Lucca and was pretty happy until his father died two years ago. He has remained sad since then and often thinks of his visit to a cousin in Seattle, USA. He thinks that Americans are much more friendly on the street – they smile and return greetings where Italians do not. (Annamaria confirmed this is true.)

He said that seeing me made him homesick for his cousin in America. He found me to be charming and friendly and “gran classe” (very elegant) and it renewed his desire to someday retire to the US with his cousin. When he is done working, he wants to take his dog and his bicycle to the US where he has family that loves him. He wants to learn English and he wants to die in a country where he feels like people are friendly and he belongs.

So both Annamaria and I were choked up after reading that. And all from sharing a sketchbook with a stranger!

Sorry to disappoint those who thought he might be a potential nude model (although he still might be!) but I am very touched by the time he took to write the note. I don’t believe I’ve gotten a note from a boy since 7th grade!

I am going to make a special pocket in my sketchbook for the note so I don’t have to glue one side down and ruin it. It is so beautiful and such an expression of honesty that I want to give it a place of honor.

That’s it for today my friends. Arrivederci for now!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. the more bengally billy...
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 09:59:30

    best post yet – keep ’em coming and get to the real work!


  2. Paula
    Oct 29, 2012 @ 08:16:56

    I agree, the best post yet. If only you could find that man and get his info to the brothers there. If anyone needs the ressurection hope it is him. He needs the truth. Brought tears to my eyes as well. And yes that is a splendid sketchbook. A memory in itself. Before you leave, get a pic of the local hall. Does it look like ours?


  3. Trackback: Neighbors Round the World | thesketchylife

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