Without Tina and Rina our lives in Bagni di Lucca would not run as smoothly and would not be nearly as much fun. They have both been generous with their time in helping us set up home in the village. Tina is an expert in the complexities of Italian paperwork and the filling out of forms and seems to know everything . We have called on her for help many times. Rina looks after things for us when we are not there and is able to sort out problems that come up from time to time, but what we value most is their friendship. I was lucky to meet them almost as soon as I arrived to move into the apartment and they immediately took me under their wings.
Tina’s parents were from Bagni di Lucca, but she was born in New York. She moved back to Italy at 12 years of age with her mother when her father died. She worked for several years in New York in her twenties and as a result speaks perfect English with an American accent. My Italian was practically non existent when I first arrived so I was very grateful for this.
Rina was born in a nearby village and has lived next door to Tina for many years. They became good friends when Rina helped to look after Tina’s mother in her later years. Rina doesn’t speak English. She understands a little and has been a great help to me in learning the language. She is always conscious of keeping her sentences simple so that I catch on. Anything I don’t get Tina translates for me which also helps me to learn. I’m getting better all the time and Rina and I can share a joke and talk about most things. I was even able to explain the term “budgie smugglers” to her one day at the beach.
They have introduced me to wonderful restaurants in the surrounding hills that I would never have discovered alone. One of our favourites is at San Cassiano where there is no menu, you get whatever is put in front of you and it is always delicious. It is a reasonable distance from Ponte a Serraglio on a steep, winding road. I have yet to brave the drive myself.
Italy is gorgeous, the food is delicious but it is the people we love the most.
Liz: Just a little addition – Deb’s quite right in saying that without our two ladies (as we fondly refer to them) the management of our apartments when we are not in Italy would be very difficult.
Tina lets us know if anything needs fixing and with her infinite store of contacts, is able to fix problems effortlessly. In our case, for example, in July she sees to it that our chimney is closed – this prevents birds nesting in it. I dont even have to remind her, it just gets done. She is the source when we require firewood for our fireplace – not necessary, but most comfortable in the winter when we like to visit. Recently her “fixing” skills really came to the fore. We had some visitors in our apartment and unfortunately, one of them had a bad fall in a nearby town. Tina was able to help out in getting the necessary documentation prepared to enable her to have a wheelchair at the airport, seating so she was able to travel in comfort, the ambulance and all the necessary incidentalia which made this ladies trip home as comfortable as possible. Without her, this would have been nigh on impossible.
Among Rina’s many talents in assisting with the day to day running of our homes in Italy is her undisbuted skill as a central heating (riscaldemente centrale) expert. As Australians, we are unaccustomed to the complexities of these systems. There are problems, especially in charming old buildings with pressure – just a phone call and she is at our door with a smile, a joke and always ready to fix the problem and allora we have heating and hot water again.
So as Deb says, these two ladies are two more examples of why we love Italy so much. Yes it is a beautiful country, gorgeous scenery, divine food and wine, but most of all it is always the people who make it special for us.