July 27, 2017

San Lorenzo di Moriano, Italy. November, 1986

Every November 1, All Saints Day, I think of my friends Antonio and Roberta (shown here with Lupo, their gentle, pasta-loving dog), a couple back when this photo was snapped, living in a wonderful farmhouse just outside Lucca. Tutti Santi in Italy is the day, I was told, that “everyone goes to the cemetery.” (I remember planning a country restaurant visit in Italy on November 1 six years earlier, and my Roman hosts charted their route to avoid getting anywhere near a cemetery. They knew.) Antonio and Roberta invited me along on their cemetery visit. Any trepidation about respecting proper decorum I may have had vanished when Roberta came to the car with a picnic basket, jam-packed Italian-style, wearing a Betty Boop T-shirt with the English legend on it: Let’s Get Physical! I had a feeling this was to be no ordinary cemetery visit. It wasn’t. It resembled a family party. People were sitting on graves, eating antipasti, pizza, pastries, elaborate meals, you name it. Laughter and screaming, kids running around being kids. I loved the whole thing so much. It taught me more about Italy and Italians than just about anything else I’d experienced.

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