Avezzona, I’m very pleased to meet you!
Avezzona is like middle sized towns all over the world that are comfortable with themselves: modern and in no need of strangers. It’s a steady town with pretty shops and a great big square where the people gather in the evening. Here on dark, their newish church standing sentinel tall at one end, old people sit around on benches chatting in twos and threes while kids whiz round on bikes and the little ones broom toy cars around the fountain. Teenagers laugh too loud and grandfathers push prams. In Italy, I have noticed, men hold the babies. From Rome to Avezzona, it is the men, old and young, who hold the little ones and how they hold them! Firm and steady in strong arms, often gazing straight into this is my birthright eyes.
I spend the day wandering around town in socks and thongs. No bandaids. Blisters soaked in Betadine. Everywhere I walk, in a great loop from the train station to the old castle to the nearly-as-old church and back to the motel, great dusty hills ring the town. Avezzona is corralled by mountains. High mountains. ‘I hope Ben doesn’t have to walk over those mountains’ mountains. Waiting for snow mountains.
I sit in the square at lunchtime and sun my blisters. I am surprised how quiet it is. Then I notice the stall holders curled up sound asleep on a bench and realise that Italians too have their siesta. The town is deserted and the shops are closed. Until 3 o’clock. The cool breeze of autumn blows through the square, bringing with it a faint winter’s-coming chill.
Clouds begin to roll in from the west. Dark clouds. It’s cold when they steal the sun, which now shines only occasionally through swabs of blue. I wonder how Ben’s doing out in the forest. My spirit would love to be out there with him. My body knows there is nowhere else to be but right here in Avezzona, feet tucked up safe and warm between clean white sheets.