For the sequel to my book “A European Odyssey”, I decided to opt out of memoir mode and let the local people speak for themselves; it was a good decision. As I’ve said, given the right platform, these people are natural actors.
And when the past speaks to me, I listen, in the same way I have been listening to the Piemontese tell stories about their family, villages, herbs, healers and Shaman. I’m not talking about the self-annointed kind, like the guy with the horns wearing the manbikini, the idiot that stormed the Capitol. No, I’m talking about the real deal, the ones who can ‘mark’ with their mysterious gift, these people who herald from the mountains and forest.
Sometimes, it kinda restores the faith when you listen to an Italian, or anyone from these ancient tribes, these cultures that have been talking for that long; they are comfortable with their tongue – it allows them to live in the moment as they recapture their past. They’re story-tellers and intimately familiar with their content.
I was at a bar yesterday, talking with a young man named Giacomo, he and his mother own the bar. Actually, it’s a kind of gastropub here on Lake Garda called ‘Busat; Charcuterie, Artisanal Cheese, and Sandwiches’. It sells craft beer but I always have a glass of the local white wine. Giacomo and his mother Sabina seem sympatico. I’ve known them for a year or two and we’re comfortable in one another’s company. He wanted to talk to me about recent events. And I was more than happy to and eventually we moved back to history. Europeans have plenty of it, Italians can even feel weighed down by it, but it gives them a story. It’s what Americans lack if they don’t study any of it; especially their own. He had some ideas, and they were pretty accurate, as far as I could tell, but I think what he was really trying to say was how sad it must be not to have a sense of history, not only your own, but world history.
I used to joke that Italians could recite Dante by the age of 8. I’ve seen it, although I’m not sure how true this remains, especially these days, but they have their history; they know it, they own up to it.
I was never great at studying history but I’ve been making up for lost time and I’m really getting jazzed about this next book. It will take time, it always does, and I say most thankfully, I have plenty… at present.