When I was little, I was a rebel: I had a head of bristly black hair that no one could ever comb, and I never wanted to stay at school. I liked playing with the boys, going fishing in the Greve river, seeing the fish and the colorful hand towels. We caught so many this way! But these days, you can’t do this sort of thing anymore. I also liked riding my bike along, following the sparrows - in the summer, they fly out of the church bell tower and toward the town clock, found in the back of the square (everyone says that this square is in the shape of a codfish, but I’m not sure if that’s true). Sometimes I’d go climb up the statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the explorer who discovered New York - but I’d take care that the authorities didn’t spot me. If they did, there would have been hell to pay.
I met your grandfather in the forest - I’d gone looking for some maidenstears to make a frittata. He was exhausted and dirty, returning from the war in Greece. He was coming by foot from Florence, first on a train from Naples. When I saw him a few days later, he had some nice black stubble and was a dead-ringer for Clark Gable. So we soon got married in the pretty little church in Montefioralle, right above Greve. I’d managed to comb my hair on my own—and the dress, well, I borrowed it from a cousin. But the bouquet?
My dear, it was a bunch of flowers picked out in the fields by my brothers. That day we had a big party—there was a huge spit-roasted pork from Macelleria Falorni and various bottles of Chianti Classico, robust and even a little bit unrefined, just as we like it. We finished with frittelle made with fried rice—nice and warm. They still make them today at namesake festivals. I was hooked on them—I ate so many! We did take a honeymoon even though we definitely didn’t have the money for it. We took a little mini-trip - Grandpa borrowed a car from a friend - it was an American model, totally beautiful. We went to Siena, along the Chianti road, passing through Panzano, where we stopped to see the paintings in the parish church of San Leolino. The monks offered us some cantuccini cookies and a glass of vin santo dessert wine. I was giddy like a little child. We didn’t need much to be happy.
Soon your dad and your uncle were born. When
they were little, we’d go to Lamole to get water from the fountain. The
story goes that these waters have healing powers - and they’re right near the
home of journalist Oriana Fallaci. This whole stretch is an area that I
really like because you can see the whole panorama of Figline Val’Darno,
reaching almost all the way to Florence. Going down, you pass in front of the villa
of Vignamaggio, which they say is the setting for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona
Lisa. Just imagine: they also filmed the movie “Much ado about nothing”
Your dad was good in school and we thought about sending him to study at the University of Florence. The writer Domenico Giuliotti helped us, because we couldn’t make it happen for him. This Giuliotti was a bit of a hermit—he wrote tons of books, even on the Greve residents who weren’t so nice to him. But in my opinion he wasn’t exactly right - in my view, Greve is the most beautiful place in the world.