So she finally left us: at 99 years of age the ‘Mayoress of San Felice’ died, Unlike her old friend Teresa she did not make her century, but while she travelled very little she packed a lot into her 99 years.
She spent her last few years in the old people’s home at Belvedere where , sharp as a tack as always, she conversed mainly with the nurses since most of the other residents were not up to conversations…she rattled along, always keen for little bits of gossip, the more salacious the better, with a tin of sweets ready to offer to her visitors, of which there were many.
She was our neighbour for many years in the piazza, and when we arrived nearly 30 years ago her welcoming speech in rapid fire Italian made me realise someone should learn a whole lot more of the lanuage than the stilted phrases culled from a book.. and I learned a lot from her, my Italian teacher, though some of her phrases were of course pure Bargighani.
She earned her nickname as the Mayoress or Sindachessa because she was , let’s admit it, quite bossy! “Si capo” I used to reply when she barked out an order and she would giggle at us both.
Her family will mourn her passing but as they say ‘that’s life’…
On one of our last visits we held a party in her honour, and she presided over it all with her usual wry humour, cracking jokes and behaving as one of her compatriots said, like someone half her age..she was definitely fun to be around.
She loved offering visitors a little tipple, of her own limoncino or cedrina or grappa, which she would haul down from her shelves , her eyes sparkling, to toast the assembled company, Whenever we had friends and family visiting she would turn up and show them the ropes.
We used to invite her to supper and she would say suspiciously ‘ma dove il pane’?
When her dog Leo died we thought she might get another, but she never did. ‘What a great loss for Barga’ said one of our friends, hearing of Maria’s death..’All I can hear now is “oh dio” when she would climb those steep stairs of yours.. ‘.
She was clearly deep in the hearts of all our family and friends, much as she was with her fellow Bargighani, and one of our sons said ‘funnily enough I thought about her a couple of days ago’.
She was ‘delightful’ said another friend, and our visitors book is full of praise for her helpful ways. Well she’s climbed up her last flight of steep stairs now and whether or not you believe in heaven, she’s around somewhere, laughing her head off, declaring ‘che so io’!