Friday, 14 August 2009

AUG 14th

I set my alarm for 6.30am so I could get up and away before the house on the other side of the road woke up and the residents found a homeless old man asleep in a bivouac on the grass verge. All's well -apart from some more bites. It's a choice between covering myself in insect repellant and putting up with the bites. It's a close call. I'm on my way to Borgotaro. That's where both my mother's parents came from. My grandmother never went back but when she was 95 she became the oldest villager of Borgotaro and the mayor and dignitaries of Borgotaro came to Edinburgh to give her the golden chain and all the other stuff the oldest person gets. You see, Edinburgh may think of itself as the capital of Scotland but it is just a suburb of Borgotaro. On the saddle of a Vespa it seems like a mighty long way. I've come to Strela - a tiny village outside Borgotaro - where my mother's cousin, Don Innocente is the parish priest. He is 89 and in case you think that was a typo I can tell you he was born in 1920. He lives with his sister who is only 83. I got there in time for lunch - tortelli stuffed with ricotta followed by fish and chips in honour of Pietro Gasparini, my grandfather (Don Innocente's uncle) who came to Edinburgh at the beginning of the last century and opened a fish asnd chip shop. At the beginning of this century it is a Chinese restaurant. Same shop - new immigrants. Margharita made an almond cake and I washed it all down with a bottle red wine from Piacenza and then I fell asleep until supper time - chicken soup fllowed by a hunk of parmigiano, bread peaches and grapes. I had intended to record Don Innocente and Margharita but it was too late - we three were too tired - me struggling to understand their Italian and them struggling to understand mine. And wouldn't an English pedant just love to take his or her red pen to the grammar in that last sentence. I was in bed before 9.30 and I tried to read but couldn't do anything else but fall asleep. Buona notte.

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