But before you are bummed out by thoughts of our looming depression and the loss of traditional agriculture in Tuscany consider this other conversation I had in Florence in Piazza Santo Spirito:
August 14, 2007
My friend, Carla, introduced me to an ‘aperitivo’ in the piazza. If someone buys a drink for three or four euros he has the right to take the food, simple but delicious, that is available. Every night there is a crowd of young Florentines here.
Today I met Lucca while I was eating at the ‘aperitivo’ a fascinating Florentine of around forty who talks rapidly accompanying all his words with gestures. He says that the Florentines have lost the greater part of the center of Florence to the tourists and merchants.
“Here in San Frediano there remains a vestige of the spirit of the old city. However, not even here remain many of the artisans of years past. One needs to go to certain neighborhoods in the periphery of the city or even further out to the small towns to find them. In those places there are people and collectives who want to create quality products in a calm environment. They work outside the global market and for this reason they can offer the products at low prices to the community. When the global market collapses, perhaps these groups can take over. I also have faith in the intuition of the youth. They’re great.”
Artisans working outside the global economy, the 'slow food' movement, 'agriturismos' like the one we visit where a new generation can afford to continue farming: all these are indications that Italy, at the grassroots, is turning away from the consumer model that it has pursued, in its infatuation with everything American, since the last world war.
Those of you who have read this far might be interested in viewing my illustrated, bilingual book "Due Mesi in Italia e Istria, Two Months in Italy" online at lulu.com