Friday, March 18, 2011

Independence Day

Yesterday I set out to go to the music school to practice, as I do every Thursday morning. It was a little drizzly, which was unusual enough, but what really surprised me was the fact that I heard a child’s voice. School is held from 8:10 to 12:10, and homeschooling is not permitted, so at first I thought that I had imagined it. Or maybe it belonged to a toddler too young for school.
I turned the corner. Nope—there was a mother looking into a shop window with her seven-year-old and her ten-year-old. What was more, I spotted a high schooler farther up the street. What was going on?
I continued onward to the music school, though the thought crossed my mind that it might not be open. The reason I am able to practice is the secretary, Alessandra, who unlocks the padlock when she drops her children off at school. No school, no practice.
I trudged up the sixty-three stairs to the music school, passing one of the two police stations on the way. I stopped at the door—yep, it was locked. I paused to catch my breath, then trudged down the sixty-three stairs to the street, passing one of the two police stations on the way.
Back outside, there were few people, but I noticed that the buildings looked a little different. Flags! I couldn’t remember having seen more than one or two Italian flags before, but today there was one hanging out of every fourth window.
Then I remembered having seen a few announcements on TV congratulating Italians on the upcoming 150th Independence Day. Aha! The mystery was solved!
Later that day, I ventured outside again with the rest of the family. Most shops were closed and now no one was on the street. As we meandered through the piazza, I noticed a few more subtle signs of the holiday: A ribbon tied around a mannequin’s neck, a poster saying “Viva L’Italia,” balloons, a flag hanging out of a car window. Still, no one in sight.
We stopped to say hello to our pottery-painting friend, who was one of the few people who’d opened shop. She laughed about the people of Todi, explaining that in the larger cities we would find more festivities, but here in Todi the people didn’t really know how to celebrate. Everyone was at home, napping and having family time.
So we walked down to the Coop, which was closed, stopped for gelato, and celebrated like the rest of the town—shut up in our house.
When we emerged to go out to dinner, our waiter greeted us with a menu entitled “Questa Sera, Anche…” (Tonight, also…). We ordered an antipasto of bruschetta tricolora. Three pieces of toast arranged in the shape of an Italian flag, one with a veggie spread, one with a fresh cheese, and one with seasoned tomatoes (I’m so glad that none of my siblings like tomatoes—these were amazing!). The whole effect was priceless and we couldn’t resist snatching a picture.
Viva L’Italia!



  1. Eleanor, your word pictures are terrific! So are the photos, by the way. Isn't it interesting that unified Italy is younger that the US and Brazil (their independence was proclaimed in 1821). Yet their history goes so much further back.I guess you don't have to be unified or independent to contribute to civilization.
    Thanks for your entry!
    Lots of love

  2. Just think, Eleanor, when you return next year, you will know all these holidays, secret entrances to movie houses, and even the best restaurants. Todi sounds like the kind of town where most people spend their lives. Why would anyone need signs or notes to tell you the location of the annal festival. Everyone already knows.

    I love the fact that you are comfortable of walking alone around town. If fact that you can walk from place to place is remarkable. Just the opposite of Phoenix. Desert land is cheap so people spread out. Without a car though... Even bikers use cars to get to the places they ride their bikes.