“Rainbow in the Piazza” (in San Donato Val Di Comino, Italy)
Joanna M. Leone
This poem is dedicated to my mother, Antonetta Fabrizio Leone. My mother is, and always will be, the great Chef, healer, maloccio specialist, and protector of all Italian traditions in our home.
The rain danced on the window, as it formed tiny rivers on the crystal glass;
Gray, satin sheets slowly crawled in the sky over the emerald green hills as the children ran from the streets into their homes, or under the canopes of the café doorways to hide from the storm.
Men and women ran to close the green or brown shutters of their windows, as the street vendors covered their carts with plastic, and closed the flea market early.
As I watched the golden reflection of the car headlights beating down on the black tar, I saw pink, blue and green umbrellas moving quickly; footsteps getting faster and faster!
The bakers in the Panifico closed their doors, only to leave the aroma of the fresh pizza traveling down the road.
As I turned the old key into the wooden door, I felt warmth in the house, and protected from the waterfalls in the sky.
The only sound I was able to hear was the ticking of the clock on the old walls of the house.
I gained comfort from the oranges and grapes in my grandmother’s old, glass fruit bowl that sat on top of her pink tablecloth with rose designs.
Many cars and buses passed by the house as I went to the gas stove to make espresso.
I remembered my grandmother and my mother making espresso in the old fashioned, aluminum, espresso coffee pot.
As I slowly reached for the delicate espresso cup, I truly felt at home, and protected from the storm.
Since there was not any time to buy the fresh bread or prosciutto in the market today, I decided to reach for the left over ricotta pie on the counter.
San Donatese truly know how to make ricotta pie, with chocolate.
There truly was not a need for groceries today, as all I needed was the ricotta pie and espresso.
All of my senses were awakened by my San Donatese meal.
Since the old television was not working, I went to the old bookshelf, as a good book on a rainy day in San Donato is a great way to relax.
What was there to read on this rainy day? Glamour or Cosmopolitan magazines left from other family members that had used the house months before my arrival? A collection of San Donatese poems? A book about Ferraris?
I had decided to clean the dust off the collection of San Donetese poems as I layed on my grandparents’ couch.
The branches of the apple tree threw its arms violently in the wind, as I noticed the leaves of the fig tree sparkle as the rain fell as I looked out of the window.
Suddenly, the sounds of the rain faded, and the golden sun fought its way through the gray satin sheets in the sky.
The people in town began to come out of their homes, and escaped to the piazza for the fresh air after the storm.
The wet geraniums on the balconies stood tall, and the children gathered their brightly colored toys and blue bicycles for their journey back to the piazza;
Some children knew exactly which flavor of gelato they wanted to order, as if they had been thinking about it during the storm.
The bell towers chanted, one, two, three, four... it was four o’clock, as I saw some of the women dressed in black walk toward the cemetery with bouquets of yellow and red flowers.
The men enjoyed a game of cards as they drank wine, and their wives headed to the local butcher to prepare for the evening meals, or as they headed over to a neighbors' house to catch up on the latest town gossip, or to borrow some basil leaves for their pesto sauce.
There were smiles from everyone in the piazza as the San Donatese came to greet me, some remembering me and my family from my prior vacations; others introduced themselves warmly, asking me for my family name.
This truly is a “home away from home”.
I heard my name from a distance, and it was my friend, Luca Leone (no relation to me, just a very good friend) coming to take a walk with me.
Suddenly, we looked up at the sky, and we both saw the gold, amber, and scarlet leaves on the trees beyond the piazza.
November had brought me the gift of the beautiful autumn colors.
My heart felt joy as I saw the true colors of San Donato!
Then, suddenly, we could not believe what we saw, and the moment is carved in my brain.
There it was!
A ribbon of aqua, light blue, pink, yellow, and orange that extended from my friend, Giuseppe Antonellis' window to the window of the house that my father, Donato Leone, grew up in, which was on Via Belfiore.
The rainbow of San Donato Val Di Comino was the most beautiful array of colors that I had ever seen in my life, and it truly reminded me of the special memories that will always be locked in my heart.
The colors of San Donato are colors that remind us of our family ties, and the special friends there that greet us each and every time that we visit, as if no time had passed at all.