We’ve met so many great people here in Perugia; we’ve mentioned many of them in our ‘Miss You’ post.
But Micah has some special acquaintances as well. Here they are, Micah’s friends. As the most sociable member of the family, he quickly won them over.
Ricardo supplies us with news, toys, and calciatori/mondiale Panini stickers. He’s also the coach of the neighborhood (Via dei Priori) soccer team.
Andrea sells tabacco, sweets, lottery tickets, office supplies, etc. If you need something in a jiffy, chances are he has it. He also prints things out for us, recharges our cell-phone credits, and we pay our bills here as well. We purchase essential government tax stickers here. Tabacchi shops are the most useful places in Italy.
We’ve written about Franco before; he is now back at work after his hip-replacement surgery; he loves giving Micah a haircut, sitting in the cavallo-chair.
Micah is learning real-world skills at Elfo’s Pub: how to talk to customers, how to pour a drink, how to make sure bar snacks are in order. Everyone knows him as the boy who wears orange and cheers for Holland.
After Umbria Jazz 14 concludes, Natale and Rosaria are making their first-ever voyage to America, making a circuit from San Diego to Los Angeles to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, and then San Francisco, visiting breweries along the way (business trip!). Natale is super-excited. Buon viaggio!
The accordion man normally plays on Corso Vannucci, though during Umbria Jazz he finds a place on a side street. He has a repertoire of a half-dozen songs, but he plays them well, lyrically, and variantly, so that we never tire of hearing his sad, poignant, melodies. We’ve never heard him speak, but his notes say enough. Micah always leaves some change in the jester’s hat that he sets up on his accordion case.
This is hard to talk about without sounding patronizing. This woman is one of perhaps a dozen people (seemingly gypsy/Roma) who regularly beg on the streets of Perugia. She often takes a place just outside the side door of San Filippo on Via dei Priori, next to our apartment.
She doesn’t say much; she just holds a paper cup for coins in her lap. We don’t really know the situation with the beggars in town. They seem organized (they have particular ‘spots’); they don’t look hungry, they have cell-phones and bags. The common wisdom is that they work in a group (or for a person) which assigns them spots to work, and to which they have to give most of the proceeds. Their pitch follows standard lines: ‘can you spare money for food’; ‘I have to feed my children’, or ‘I will bless the health of your children’, etc. When you give them money, they murmur a blessing on behalf of Madonna or a saint. Some are very pushy, quite in-your-face. For those, if you don’t give, sometimes you get a curse instead of a blessing. It is emotional blackmail.
And yet, and yet. Somehow we decided early on to give her (and one other, older woman) money. We have not given money to men of working age. That sounds sexist; like many things in Italy, there is a deep gender-ization that affects many things, us included. What is clear is that this is her job. She keeps regular hours, has regular spots, and has a regular routine. And people accept that here. It’s just another occupation.
Two weeks ago, we stopped and Micah gave her some coins. I don’t know quite why, but I told her we were leaving Perugia. I asked if she could take a picture with Micah. Yes, she said, smiling, of course. And then I asked what her name was. She gave Micah a hug, and then began to cry.
Her name is Vedana.