They say that there are two subjects that shouldn’t be talked about over the dinner table, one is religion and the other is politics. The beauty of living at Sensone is that I am far removed from both most of the time, like the time when the priest visits all of the houses and gives them a blessing, he visits Renaio with his troop of youngsters, holy water, and kind and protective words for the house, but that’s as far as they go. They don’t venture down our forest strada to our little house nestled into the mountain side.
The local politicians (or our equivalent of) also don’t venture down to the house but for the last few weeks it has been impossible to avoid their presence and the elections are big news and the political arena has reached as far as Renaio. With the local school house being taken over and turned into the voting centre. You could be forgiven in thinking that there wouldn’t be many voters with only five families (six including us) living up here, but there are certain times when like worker ants a mirage of mountain people descend from all corners.
Sunday I was having lunch with my neighbors and just happened to mention that I really didn’t understand enough about the syndicates and their offerings to make an informed decision when all war broke out. As soon as the final word had come out of my mouth I knew that I had said the wrong thing. My Italian is pretty good now so I could understand the gist of everything. With words like stupido, fascista and many Dio canes shooting back and forth I could feel myself shrink right into myself and this was compounded when Richard said “you had to go and mention politics”. The war continued for some time, as all we could do was sit quietly to avoid the on slaughter, and this continue for at least half an hour until a couple of them left the room and apart from a few grunts, groans and fascista comments the conversation was dropped.
But I use the word war in no light terms, because the Italians are passionate people, within a household you can have several members all with differing points of views and alliances to opposing sides and even when they agree on the group their will still be differences of opinions on the candidates themselves. Get them talking on a subject and they throw all that passion, and yes even aggression out there, they are set in their ways, in particular the older generation and the mix of ages within the household, hold onto your hats and duck the fall out. .
For me politics is a subject I have found to be very dishonest, each candidate saying strong and powerful words to win votes but all of them held down by the bureaucracy of antiquated systems and economical constraints. Now I am sure that each candidate truly believes in what he/she is saying, and I am sure that they really believe that they can change the system in a “looking at the world through rose glasses” kinda way. I would add here too though that England is just the same, if not worse.
I feel sad being a woman that I don’t vote, especially after the struggle to win women the vote, but for me it is not the people, the politicians, the syndicates that I have a problem with, it is the system, the system that doesn’t allow them the opportunity to put actions behind their publicity, to help them put actions behind the words.
Most of us more rural habitants only see these candidates the weeks running up to an election, most are passing strangers of the night, and I guess for a lot of people this is the same. Being a straneri is in many ways worse with lots of barriers in the way but mainly the language. I know of people (straneri) battling with communes for in some cases basic rights which is sad because where would Barga be if not for the large influx of expatriats. Where is our representative within each party?
But that being said I am not a politic animal, at Renaio the grass area around the school house has not only be trimmed but raked to perfection in preparation for the weekend. Me I learned my lesson and will not be discussing politics at the dinner table in the future. And I truly wish the winning syndicates every success in putting the all important actions behind their words and making a difference to this very special community of people.
Article by Sensone
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996