Yesterday was a lazy day. We did laundry (kitchen sink style), went grocery shopping (for our chunk-o-padano) and read in the park. As we sat on the well-worn, strangely comfortable wooden benches, reading our books in the shade, we smiled at our new-found way of living. It feels comfortable and familiar, but still adventurous and new.
It was 17:00 and little by little, the old people started to make their way to the park for passeggiata. Our bench was the only one in the shade which had room on it, so naturally the first two old ladies headed our direction. They said something I didn’t understand, but it was obvious they wanted to sit. We replied “Prego, prego, si” and gladly squished over to make more room . Old ladies here are just like old ladies back home. They want to chit-chat. Even if you are in the middle of Hemingway and even if you kindly tell them you don’t speak Italian, they still want to chit-chat.
It took just a few seconds to realize I shouldn’t fight this natural progression. And I’m so glad because they were beautiful ladies who were quick to tell us “Ottanta e ottanta due” –80 and 82 years old. The elderly speak much slower and enunciate better than younger speakers. It’s perfect for my learning ears. I could understand most of what they said, but didn’t have the vocabularly to say all that I wanted to in return, which was fine because the one just rambled on and on and on..and on in Italian like I understood every word :) It was really quite pleasant and I enjoyed watching her still bright, expressive eyes and her wrinkled, leathery hands speaking right along with her words, just as I’m sure they did for the past ottanta years. I was able to tell them about Nick’s dear Gramma–“Suo nonna e novanta tre”–and they smiled.
I left the park that evening smiling at the irony of it all…that my best way to learn Italian will probably be on a bench in a park listening to an old lady chit-chat.
I plan on finding her tonight and listening to her stories for a bit before we head to the Spain-Italy match. Evviva Italia!