Friday, May 4, 2007

Talking With Luciano

I met Luciano at Piazza Santa Croce. I was sitting on a bench in the sun, going through my "flash cards" that I made for my Italian verbs, and he sat down beside me and started speaking to me in Italian. I explained to him in Italian, that I was studying, and had only started a few weeks ago. We talked for a little while, but the sun was hot and bothering him, and he asked me to walk with him, so I did. He took me to a small private garden behind the rectory of Santa Croce which was beautiful and tranquil, and I never would have found it by myself.

Luciano works in an office that has some relationship to making movies, although I don’t understand what that is at this point. Regardless, Luciano is very patient with my Italian, and he doesn’t speak any English, so that is helpful also. Oddly enough. It is interesting how easily people can communicate with a limited knowledge of the language and a dictionary! It is a little tiring, and tedious, but a lot of fun also. Actually, I was pretty amazed at how much I could actually speak and understand. Yeah! It took a lot of pressure off of the "tests" at school, because, really why I am in class is to be able to speak and communicate the language. The tests are good benchmarks, but the actual discussions I have with people are what is important.

Today Luciano and I met again and went to another park on the outskirts of Florence. He is very familiar with the area and things off the beaten path which is nice. He doesn’t live in Florence, but in Pommerregio which is a ½ hour train ride away. This makes it nice because he has to set up our meetings in advance.

Luciano is 36, but looks 56. He is short and bald, has bright blue eyes, and the body of a soccer player, which he is, and I got to witness it in the park when some teenage boys were playing soccer and the ball went astray and he rescued it. Luciano said that he was "molto sorpresso imprarer io sono quaranta nove" (very surprised to learn that I am 49) Yeah right!

At this point, I have met and am friends with about 6 men. Their ages range from 36-45 and they are all single and have never been married! This is a big culture difference, and at first I didn’t believe it, but now that I know more about Italy and the culture here, I know it is true (at least for some of them). The birth rate in Italy is in the negative numbers. All of these 6 men, except for 1 are only children and the other has one sister. Half of them live at home, in the home they grew up in, and the others live alone. The reasons for this are the expense of housing in Italy, and particularly in Florence, and traditionally, the home is passed along to the eldest son anyway. Some of the homes these men live in have been in their families for literally 100's of years!

The problem with Luciano, is that he can’t keep his hands to himself! This is common with Italian men, but usually, they get the message. Luciano, doesn’t get it, but he will soon!

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