Thursday, October 22, 2009

Days in Aviano

I have spent the last four days in Aviano, Italy where I lived for three years. It has been two years since my last visit. I have been itching to back here for a long time. Traveling all the way to Italy from Hawaii is not a pleasant experience. I have done it twice over the years and it just takes too much out of me to do it on purpose. As soon as we got to Abu Dhabi, I began to plan a visit to Italy to meet with my vendors in Venice and to visit my old stomping grounds in Aviano.

Frankly, I feel like I have come home. John and I were fortunate enough to make Italian friends while here that have lasted even after we departed. We always visit our good friend Aurelio who was the cousin to our landlord. He worked in the vineyards beside our house and offered assistance to us on many occasions as we transitioned living in a foreign country. He translated for us many times and offered a helping hand on too many occasions to mention. He and his wife have become important people in our lives and we do not visit the area without calling on them and seeing how they are doing.
I also became friends with Nicoletta Caine, an Honorary Squadron Commander associated with the base. She worked with her husband Federico Camarotto at their winery Col Longone and she was instrumental in developing relationships between the Italians and the Americans in the community. She and Federico worked tirelessly to produce good "vino" for the Friuli region and invited many people to their beautiful villa in Caneva. They have hosted many important VIPs in the area and attended many functions on the base throughout the years. I became a personal friend of Nicoletta's and have enjoyed a lasting friend. I cannot imagine coming to Italy and not seeing my good friend. I had dinner with her and her dear friend Armando tonight in Sacile at Ceolini's, a beautiful restaurant overlooking the water in the river that runs through Sacile. Nicoletta is a teacher in the Italian school system and is currently teaching English and Spanish at middle school and high school. John and I love her dearly and value her friendship.

My hairstylist Carla Torresin is a must see person on every visit. She truly knows how to take care of my beauty needs. She cut and colored my hair the whole time we lived here and we became friends in the process. If I were very rich, I would fly to Italy once a month for Carla to do my hair. The Italians are just very good stylists. I spent some time with Carla this afternoon drinking cappucino and catching up. The other stylist in her shop, Brigitta, is also someone I love to see when I come back. She is so sweet and has a beautiful home in Sacile right next to the Sacile Duomo.

I have to visit all the ladies at Stradella's cafe. I enjoyed their company too many mornings while I lived in Aviano. Stradella's is the local gathering place and watering hole. It is the center of the community. If only we had places like this in America!

I was sad to learn right after I arrived that my old acquaintance Bartolemeo (Bart) died only last week. Bart had a leather stand in the BX where he sold Italian leather purses, luggage, and briefcases. His son ran a stand in the local markets and traveled all around the area. When I used to go into the BX, Bart would call out to me, "Costanza, Ciao Costanza." Even if I was all the way on the other side, he would call out to me. I got used to my greeting and always looked forward to his bright smile and tossle of silver hair. So, Sunday afternoon when I went into the BX, I was looking forward to hearing him yell out "Costanza!" His stand was always right by the front door so I noticed immediately he was not there. Then I saw his little shop all closed up and a sign on the door that read "closed due to death in the family." I then walked over to read a paper posted beside the sign. Sadly, it was Bart's obituary from the local paper. He died up in Maniago helping his son at the market last week. I really missed him. It's the little things in life that mean so much sometimes. You never know what your presence in someone's life means to them. I am sure Bart never knew how much I enjoyed his jovial greeting and how much it meant to me to hear him call out my name in Italian. I was blessed to have him in my life. Thanks, Bart.

There are also the Italians who I met and loved dearly but didn't get to know personally. The little man at the hardware store, the young girl who opened the massage and tanning center, the girls at Viaggi travel who helped me plan trips and buy train tickets, Pierre, the manager of Viaggi travel who lived just down the street from me, our next door neighbors Fulvio and Cinzia, the lady who always waited on us at Doimo's, Anna and Alberto who ran Ca d'Bosco restaurant in Budoia, Georgio of Georgio's famous restaurant in Budoia---everyone loves Georgio; and many, many more of the local people in Aviano who shared their beautiful country with us so graciously.

I could go on and on about this little place. At times, I think it is a little slice of heaven. I left a big piece of my heart here. I always come back.

No comments:

Post a Comment