Sunday, October 10, 2010


We took the bus number 31 to the end of the line.  It was going to be the 10 but we missed it.  So “cambiamo il programma”.  It took us to Grassina, a small suburb of Firenze where he wanted to see the cemetery.  He made me promise that I would bury him there.  But we were hungry when we got there and so ate pizza with anchovies and pasta with bacon and pecorino.  After lunch we walked back to the center to the “Casa del Popolo” the community center found is nearly every neighborhood.  These are often large and well equipped senior centers with a bar, a dance hall, game rooms, a garden with outside seating and lots of anziani.  At this hour of the day it was all men.
I said “where are all the women?”  He said “at home, cleaning, making lunch.”   Grrrr.  Typical Italian, women doing all the work.  We wandered around, peeking in the rooms, eventually out past two very busy card tables under the trees.  Beyond was a shed roofed open sided structure with a crowd of men at the sides watching a bocci ball game.  The ancient roof beams and weathered pillars covered a clean swept, slightly dished surface edged with wood and capped by troughs at each end. 
We sat to watch just as one of the teams of four rolled a ball to within 4 or 5 inches of the target, a pink rubber sphere the size of a golf ball.  Two balls seemed to be the same distance from the target so a measurement was required.  A stalk from a broom was cut to fit the space and used to determine the winner.  The winner collected several coins.  A toss of the target and they began again. These vigorous old guys, short, mustachioed, all in jeans, windbreaker vests and athletic shoes, were able to roll the most amazing curves, esses and arcs that stopped on a dime, or straight shots with deadly accuracy, or throws that rolled up the side inclines, circled through the other balls to land practically on top of the target.  Incredible.  Only the 8 were playing.  Another 15 or so watched and chatted and commented.  We sat outside the shed on a bench under the trees.  The language was a dialect that Salvatore didn’t recognize.  The fall day was cool but sunny, the shouts of a football game and the gurgle of the river nearby;   the chatter and laughter of the men a rolling, bubbling comfort.             

No comments: