Today I am overcoming jetlag and readjusting to the international experience of living in the villa. The cooks and other workers here are mostly from Poland and, for the most part, speak very little Italian and no English at all. The only Polish I know is what I learned during my stay last year….maybe 10 words. My Italian is at the conversational level with a fairly limited vocabulary. Despite our lack of a common language, we all still manage to communicate. When I am here, I am always reminded how strong of a currency the human smile can be. I know Pier Giorgio knew that. He was known for always having a smile on his face and not just when he was enjoying one of his practical jokes.
Outside the gates of the villa, I have many opportunities to put my Italian into practice. As I was walking to Mass this evening, I saw two ducks in a small yard. The lady of the house was not far behind them and so I called to her from the street above to ask how to say “ducks” in Italian. I thought I heard wrong when she said, “pantaloni,” because that is the same word for a pair of trousers. I wonder what reaction you would get if you told somebody he was wearing a nice pair of ducks!
It is pleasantly sunny here during the day and pleasantly cool in the evening. After enduring the hottest month on record in Nashville this past August, I am enjoying the temperature change and the refreshing mountain air. I also love the Italian windows on this villa. There are three layers: the outer shutters, the inner vertical glass windows, and the solid wood covering that makes the room you are in completely dark. Perfect for sleeping! I have to remember to close the first two layers before it gets dark; otherwise, it will become too cool in my bedroom. Heat is not in use in Italy during the summer months. The people who live here year round burn a lot of firewood and also have gas heat. The Frassati family did not live here year round. It really was more of a summer home used to escape the heat in Turin. They frequently spent Easter here, however. For the most part, there are very high ceilings and either marble or wooden floors, along with various sizes of oriental carpeting. It does get cold inside! At dusk, you can hear the sound of one of the workers going from room to room and closing all of the windows. That is the sound I am hearing now. Pier Giorgio would have heard it here, too, every morning and evening. It’s a little thing, I know, but that’s today’s view from the villa. ///cmw