Young families with small children, teens, grandparents and every age in between strolled the cobblestone piazza, enjoying the moon lit night. We were impressed by the sight of teenagers, walking in pairs and groups, as they stopped to converse with elderly ones. There seemed to be no problem communicating across the years. It happened a few times and we realized it wasn’t a fluke. Grandparents were not separated away, not in housing developments and not in the life of the community or the minds of young people.
Earlier in the evening, at dinner in a local restaurant, we had begun to adjust to the slower pace of everything. As in many places in Europe, in Italy it is understood that when you sit down for dinner, the table will be yours for the entire evening. Turn-over is like take-out, it simply doesn’t exist. When the food arrived it was worth the wait. We finished our delicious meal, asked for the check and noticed the waitress looked a little put off. What had we done? When she returned with a bottle of limoncello, the wonderful and popular lemon liquor, we understood. Where were we going before the dinner was complete? The after-dinner drink was just part of the service. It was the owner’s home-made version and it was delicious.
Amid the sound and bustle of the Festa, at a small stand next to the post office we bought some pignoli gelato. We marveled that the small, sweet nuts had been so delicious in our pasta dinner and here they were, perfect in our dessert. Standing in the middle of the piazza, listening to the orchestra it seemed I had wandered into a movie. If Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianno had been the next two people to glide by, it would not have surprised me at all.
In the fountain at the center of the piazza four white marble pipers held up a clam shell that shot water straight up into the night and in front of each figure a horse fought mightily to escape out into the square. I scanned the scene and willed myself to remember all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations. Two months on, if I close my eyes I’m there. I can hear the music and the splash of the fountain, see the crowds and taste the gelato. The best thing about travel is what you carry away with you. In an instant you can return to those places by memories so vivid and easily summoned.