Italy. An interesting, infuriating place to live as a gin-raddled expat. Some notes and observations.
Monday, 22 October 2012
I went to Francesco's funeral this afternoon. He fell off his perch on Saturday morning, aged 86. He was glad to die, the doctors having threatened to amputate a leg just to keep him going a little longer. He was one of my most revealing introductions to Real Italy. Francesco was one of that dying breed (sorry), the contadino, the smallholder. Everything his family ate or drank (more or less), he grew. He had a few acres above the local town, vineyards, vegetable plots, a cow, a few goats, a number of hutches full of rabbits, two pigs (always named after the Italian President and the current Prime Minister..the last two were Giorgio and Silvio). They were slaughtered in his yard every February. Everything was used and consumed. I used to go there grape picking after teaching in the morning. I could always find the pickers in the vineyard by their chatter, even if I couldn't see them. Then at six o'clock we would go, knackered, to the tap near the pigsty (Ciao Giorgio! Ciao Silvio!) wash our sticky hands and faces and then go into the house for a supper prepared by his long-suffering wife Giannina. The house (not that much difference actually between the human accommodation and that reserved for the animals) just stank of pork. Salami dangled from the ceiling in various stages of maturing. Great hockslined the walls. At table, there would be maybe 16 or 18 of us pickers and helpers, Francesco would preside over it all, his sparkling eyes reserving a special glance for any young females present. Plates and plates of food would appear, jugs of wine would be emptied and the singing would start. If it sounds all a bit Peter Mayle-ish and idyllic, well, it really was like that.
RIP Francesco Campasso. A Good Bloke.