19 April 2011

Johnny Be Good

Last night I went to a little local pub called, of all things, Johnny Be Good, in Silvi Marina, the community next to us here in Italy.  Z Z King was the group appearing, singing the blues with all their hearts and inviting their friends up onto the stage to jam with them. It was wall to wall people, the crowd loved this group and the music was great, hand clapping, toe tapping fun.

But what I noticed more that anything else was just the sheer physicality of the folks there. Italians are such physical people. People come in, hug, kiss each other on both cheeks, look each other in the eye, stand and talk for awhile, stroke each others hair or face or back while talking. This is men greeting men, women greeting women, men greeting women, women greeting men, old greeting young, young greeting old. When they part, the kissing starts again and the lingering, the taking time to separate as if they're reluctant. Good-byes stretch out.

Because it was my first time there and I knew only one other person besides my husband, I had a chance to really observe for the evening, in between foot stomping and cheering for the musicians. As an American, the cultural difference was startling.  It seemed such an elemental way to contact one another, to connect with one another. I saw their pleasure in each others company and their freedom to express it. This is a good way to live. A way of simple pleasures.

And then, when it was time to leave, my friend, who hadn't seen us since the summer, invited my husband and me to walk with him to his apartment a short distance away so he could give us some of his favorite cheese and some pasta sauce his mother had just made. He hugged us, kissed us on both cheeks, talked of events coming up where we might meet, told us how his wife and son were, took a long time to say good-bye, seemed like he was reluctant to have us leave. I felt special. I have a lot to learn and I like this way of learning.

What are you learning these days?


  1. Oh, you make me homesick!
    I bet in their corporate training, they emphasize American expediency and time awareness!

  2. It is a way of life we need to embody more ... wish I were there!

  3. That physicality is a learned trait. They start young and keep it up. Here, just the opposite: we learn early on to be suspicious of physical touch. It's pretty sad, really.

  4. I think it would be so great to live in a society such as this. We have a large Italian community here that goes back several generations. It is always fun to go to their social events.

  5. It sounds lovely, so unlike some places here where no one ever meets your eye.

  6. Lucky you, all those huggers!

  7. HUGS! English people sometimes give us funny looks. I recently realised it's because we walk along with our arms around one another. I stroke the boys' hair, kiss them, they kiss me, Sean kisses them, we all hold hands... Chas and Sam are nearly as tall as us now, and not supposed to snuggle in public! I hope they don't realise it yet :)

  8. I love this way of loving friends in Italy and Spain (haven't been to Spain, but I see it around).

  9. It's been many years since I lived in Italy (for a short 6 months) but at that time the crime rate was just nonexistent....they are just too happy to have crime! Oh what a lifestyle....I love it!

  10. Rosaria, Mi piace tua paese. My husband does some corporate training in Europe and when he has Italians in his class and they have to simulate hostile questions to learn how to deal with them, he says the Italians sound like their making love.
    Lauren, So drop by and visit, you'll love it!
    DJan, You're right. I was talking about adults but you should see them with kids!
    Sally, You'd see it there for sure!
    Patti, It feels so life affirming somehow.
    Linda, Hugs galore!
    Nan, I can so picture that. It's one of the things I love about your family. How about a country of Shepherd families!
    Ruth, I love it too. Throw in the art, literature, architecture, history and it makes for a great way to live.
    Nanny, Same thing around here in Abruzzo province!

  11. I am learning the value of a firm hug is much greater than that of a firm handshake.

  12. The 'warmth'of Italy is as much about the people as it is the sunshine. The whole country is like a warm embrace. I am so happy my English son is living there -- his friends are so warm and welcoming even to his 'old' parents. No place is perfect -- but Italy is wonderful.

  13. I love your descriptions of leave taking, I want to be Italian! We're the "last kids at camp" in Tucson. Next Saturday we depart for the east coast and then on to Germany. Looking forward to seeing a new country and hoping we love it.

  14. Lou, Hugs rock!
    TB, I agree. Stop by for a visit when you come.
    AM, Germany- to stay? What part. Enjoy!


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