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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making Plans

Making Plans

“Mingu, is anything wrong?” Don Paolo didn’t expect to find anybody awake at his return from the city. As Mingu helped him down from his horse.
“Good evening, Don Paolo. ” Mingu took the horse to the stable and later returned to see what Don Paolo's had to say after a long day.
“Come, join me for a drink.” It was late and everyone was asleep, but Don Paolo  found a  snack of bread, salami and a glass of wine, and set another plate for Mingu who joined him in the kitchen after feeding and watering the horse,

The kitchen was warm, a fire still burning, anticipating his arrival. Gemma heard the men from the back room where she slept and came to see what was needed. She offered to fry some eggs and assemble a proper meal for the padrone.

She saw Mingu's long face.

“Sorry, Gemma, didn’t mean to wake you. Mingu and I are just having a glass of wine, something to relax me before I get to bed.” Don Paolo’s tone was calm, but she couldn’t help noticing his visage wincing in pain as he dropped in a chair.

“Go back to bed, Gemma. Morning is just a few hours away.” He was commanding her, and it was no use arguing at this point.  If Mingu wasn't around, Don Paolo would allow a salt bath for his feet, even a massage of that throbbing leg.  She went back to her room without protesting.

If they needed her, they knew where she was.

Mingu dropped down to help the padrone  with the removal of the boots.

“Get the good wine, will you? I could use company. You look like you have something on your mind. What is it?” Don Paolo didn't like much fussing.  At these times, he missed his wife more than ever.  Marianna always waited up for him, insisted on treating that leg of his with rubbings of alcohol, with special pomates of oil or this, or oil of that.  Marianna would have had a hot meal waiting for him too.

“You’ve had a long day.”

“We’re awake. Might as well get it off your chest.”

“Graziella and I. Just today.” Mingu moved around the place and cut himself a slice of bread. He found it easier to talk as he moved to gather things. He was afraid Don Paolo was going to erupt any minute at the ideas discussed.

“You and Graziella?” Don Paolo’s tone was warm and gentle. “ My young man, my daughter is always finding ways to be around you. I thought you noticed.”

“I thought….” Mingu stopped in mid-sentence. What did he hear?

“She’s been fond of you for a long time. 'Mingu this; Mingu that'. She's still very young, no?”

“Graziella wanted us to speak to you together, Don Paolo. ”

“A long day! I’m glad we talked.”


“How is your mother going to take the news? Have you thought about that? She’s the one you need to worry about.”

“I’m picking her up for the Festa tomorrow.”

“Yes. Tomorrow, we’ll talk tomorrow. Good night, Mingu.”

“Good night, Don Paolo.”

It was almost dawn when Don Paolo went to bed. Mingu then,  saddled up and rode to town.  The Festa was going to bring them all back together in a few hours.

When Mingu arrived at his mother's, she fixed him a hearty breakfast and before he opened his mouth about anything, she brought up the topic of Graziella.

“So, you two have feelings for each other.” She started.

“Yes, Mamma’. I wasn’t sure myself until just the other day, right after she came down to talk to you. What did she say exactly?”

“Never mind that. I want to know how you plan to support her. She is used to the life at the Loggia. What can you give her? Your father left us those few acres by the forest and they don’t produce much these days. Even the hunt has come to a stop. We made extra money when we had dozens of people at the time spend time at the Loggia during hunting season. I almost had the dowry for your sister after one season. I’m quite sure Don Paoluccio, in his condition misses his old lifestyle. Soon, he’ll be telling you to get rid of the horses, and then, where will you be?”

“I’m running the place, Mamma. Not just the stables. Besides, I can always re-enlist in the military. I always loved the Cavalry.”

“You haven’t been paying attention! There is a lot of talk with Mussolini changing things. Cavalry or no Cavalry, I’m a widow and if you leave us what will happen? Who’ll help your poor Mamma and the young ones? Rodolfo and Nicola need your guidance. Your sister will need a trousseau. We have nothing. Four mouths and no steady income. Don Paoluccio romised your dad two acres by the river. I bet he forgot that. I bet now that his daughter is coming of age he’d rather not look back.”

“Mamma, I’m asking Graziella’s hand if Don Paoluccio doesn’t object. Now, it doesn’t affect our family at all. I’ll still watch out for my brothers and sister.”

“We’re about to see the dismantling of things. No, son. No. The military is the last place you’ll be happy in. I think we better get you to America. Yes. I’ll talk to Paoluccio. His brother and sister are there, in New York. You and Graziella can make a new life there. You can send for the rest of the children, and your brothers and your sister. Paoluccio and I do not have a lot of time on this earth.”

“Mamma, you’re worrying for nothing. You’ll both live to be a hundred. I can still run the Masseria for the family, and in a few years, I can buy some land, build our own place.”

“I wouldn’t set my hopes too high, figlio mio. Paoluccio is not like Marianna, his dear wife.You are still the stable boy. You better make other plans. I’d hate for you to be disappointed. What you want is impossible.”


  1. Such wonderful writing. You paint clear pictures with your words, Rosaria.

  2. yes, truly beautiful wordpictures, rosaria!

  3. Feels a lot like Under the Tuscan Sun. Beautiful.

    (that is the hugest header picture ever...stunning)

  4. I really like the style and tone of this piece. :)

  5. So, Benito has cropped up. The old order is bound to crumble now. Can't wait for the next episode.

  6. This is a truly wonderful story! I'm so glad to have found you and your beautiful writing, and look forward to reading more as you post it.

    Have you read "A Kiss from Maddalena" by Christopher Castellani? It's another fictionalized family memoir which takes place in the early 40's.

    I've also bookmarked your Italian language blog with great enthusiasm. I understand Italian far better than I speak it and would like to remedy that.

  7. Ha! And so it wasn't impossible! Ha!

    Imagine living within such a history. HOly holy.