April Kindness - How the Langhe people view us foreigners!
This is a story I wrote a few years ago that I recently came across and thought you might enjoy it.
Welcome to the start of long warm days in north Italy. The weather has been beautiful all year now it's simmeringly hot, bright blue skies with cotton clouds and the snow is nearly gone from high peaks of the Alps that surround our beautiful region. It seems odd to not have had one of the ‘proper’ winters we normally experience in Piedmont but we’re not complaining too much!
One of the questions I often get asked by people looking to buy here is ‘do the local people like it that foreigners are moving here and invading their little ancient communities?’ The clear answer is that they really don’t mind, in fact they love it. And here’s a little story that proves they do like us foreign sort and is a demonstration of their kindness.
In April we had visited a house in Mango that is for sale, the weather was glorious. Just before midday our colleague suggested we stop the cars and sit down to discuss a few current matters. We stopped at a little church, just below Mango on the road to Santo Stefano. Outside the church is a bench and table hewn from local stone. A few moments after we sat down a lady in her early sixties came by on the way to her house, just behind the church. As with most women in this region, she was carrying something – large lengths of wood, probably for a bread oven or to warm the still cool Spring evenings. She greeted us and discovered we (my wife and I) were not Italians. Our Italian colleague commented on what a beautiful day it was and what a lovely spot she lived in. The only thing that was missing, he observed was a glass of Barbera (a good local red wine). She quietly left and a few minutes later returned carrying something different – several disposable cups, a corkscrew and a bottle of red wine! She apologised ‘I’m sorry. It’s not Barbera, it’s Dolcetto, but you're welcome’. So there we sat, sipping fine wine – courtesy of the good neighbour – enjoying beautiful surroundings and the sun on our faces in mid April, feeling good about this simple kindness that so many communities in the western world have lost but is still alive in Piedmont.
You will always get a friendly informal greeting, a handshake and some act of kindness –very likely a bottle of home-brew wine. Well, we actually got two. She returned to her house and came back with a bottle of white and insisted we take that too. We enjoyed every drop. Well actually, we gave the remainder of the red from that afternoon to a client who arrived later that day. They got to their hotel and finished it off. They said that after forgetting their names they slept like babies..