Our first walkabouts

by | Daily Life, Italian Living

When we are at liberty, we are a handful. Truth be told, we are a handfull to ourselves, too.

It’s our way.

Out and on the go

It’s a funny thing letting go of all your stuff. It’s a magical act. By clearing space you don’t have so much to do. Nothing to dust, you got no stuff. Nothing to water, you got no lawns, gardens nary a plant. Nothing to look for, everything is right there in three suitcases. 

What should we do first? Eat. That’s always the most important discussion of the day.

Captions for Photos from top down: 
  • Mucciante’s very special people. Roberto’s bread and pizzas are delicious!
  • Un caffè latte e un cornetto.
  • Smiles!

First we found breakfast. Mucciante is nearby. When we met Roberto, Annallea, and Katia, we also found a community. This local Bar serves caffè and cornetti in the morning (coffee and a delicious croissant.) There is a school nearby, so the early morning is a zoo. Italians triple parking, kids lugging book bags, everyone talking hurriedly while drinking their morning espresso in two gulps. They are all in a rush, there is so much to do.

When the frenetic energy clears is our favorite time. It’s when the Bar owners are cleaning up after the rush, starting to bake bread, and preparing lunch specials. Then the regulars start filtering in. All neighbors, mind you.

We learned of a grocery store close by that had bare necessities. Our Angel’s friend’s family owned it. They would even bring over the bottled water it was recommended we stock, if we called them. Did we mention we are basic speakers of the Italian language?

Most Italians love that you are trying to speak Italian. They are very helpful. They also love practicing their own English. We specialize in smiles; they are a universal language.

Captions of Photos from left down:
  • Our path back to the flat. That is Sant’Antonio’s in the distance.
  • Precut makings for minestrone.
  • Steve with our new Nonna cart.

We were all smiles. No work. No chores. All of a sudden we had time for living. Who wouldn’t smile?

As we ventured further afield we were able to find more than basics. Here’s a pro tip. There are small, typically family owned negozi (stores) that specialize in meat, baked goods, fish, and vegetables and fruit. Shop there.  In addition to discovering these shops, we also found wonderful family owned businesses. They’re also neighbors. We are enthusiastic supporters of local businesses.


What else could we do to occupy ourselves? We noticed that most of le nonne (the grandmothers) we saw on our way to get food had a dour look about them. They never smiled. Head down, they would push their carts past us not saying a word. We looked at each other in the eye. Steve said, “Let’s try to make a nonna smile.” His eyes twinkled.

So we did. We soon recognized that le nonne were the cooks for almost every -extended- family. (Italians live mostly in condos in the city. Extended family members often live in the same building across many floors.) Moreover, Italian refrigerators are TINY, so le nonne shop for food (cibo) almost every day.

Le nonne ensure the family is eating the freshest food. It’s the Italian way. This cultural habit, gave us time to practice our goal. It took us a few days, then we got our first Nonna smile.

They were the Pros, we could tell that right off the bat. We recognized that we needed a Nonna Cart (carello). It’s the way they get groceries and other stuff back home while on foot.


We were acclimating. One day at a time. Actually, we are still befuddled today, but we take it in stride. Mostly.

After more than five years, we’ve developed many fond friendships. Walking for essentials is a great way to start the day. Shopkeepers waving to us from their busy counters, calling “Buongiorno!” makes our smiles grow. Everyone smiles, as we respond with our waves and our buongiornos.