How does one sum up a six year experience in Italy? One doesn’t. One lives life to its fullest each and every day. The last day needn’t be any different should each day truly be a fulfilling experience worth savoring for the rest of your life. Today was no different. Today was our last full day in Italy.
Therefore there was no better way to spend our last evening than by celebrating with those we love. We met up with our neighbors for the last three years at the annual community festival, party, here they call it a “sagra”, at the church up the hill here in Pianezze, the annual sagra of bigoli, Pianezze del Lago.
We’ve written about the phenomenon of the sagra before, last summer getting our fill over several weekends of local favorites all over the Arcugnano region. Tonight was no different. A community comes together to celebrate and share something awesome for a good cause – and people come from all over the place to celebrate with them!
Community is celebrated. We’ve gotten to know our neighbors and the thing that brings more tears to our eyes than anything else is the fact that we are leaving such amazing people who opened up to us and shared their community with us. That same community who welcomed me here three years ago when I moved in, tied up ribbons when we got married, and invited us to participate in neighborhood events, and cared about us as members of the same community we have come to love.
At the sagra here in Pianezze, community knows no age limit. Participants range from young to old. The entire production is put on by volunteers. The children enthusiastically clear tables, and our neighbors are busy preparing the meals for hundreds of visitors who come to experience the sagra each night. Months of preparation go into pulling off an event like this, much in the same way as a major event I might have planned for my work in Africa. Tents to be rented, food to be prepared, logistics, logistics, logistics!
Extra special for us was the chance to say our last goodbyes to our neighbors. On several occasions it was once again difficult to hold back the tears as we realized that this truly is our “last supper” living in Italy. Neri and Alberto who are busy volunteering working the sagra came and ate their dinners with us in the fest tent, and then we enjoyed spending time with Anna, Davide, and little Irene, as we all sheltered from the seemingly non stop rain.
There’s never been a place we’ve been as comfortable or content. Where we’ve felt as at home as we do here. Where we have felt so a part of the community we live, as we do here in Pianezze. So here on our final night in Italy, we could not have done anything any more appropriate than participate in the sagra of the town where we’ve lived, with the people who have made it home for us, and who we love.
Grazie Pianezze. You will be missed. Arrivederci.