Life in a small town beyond the usual clichés

When you are born in a small town, you already have a certainty in life: before you give off the first wail, everyone already knows that you are alive.

Eh yes, because life in a small town is exactly this way: when you go to take a step, everyone is well aware of it before you do it.
And which is definitely the gigantic factory for other people’s business?
Villagers sate their desire to gossip, which is part of their genetic code in a certain almost mystical place, bordering on transcendental: the bar.

The bar, where I come from (but I could say that it is the same in Tuscany, and, generally speaking, throughout Italy) is not a place, but rather a lifestyle: people know who you are, depending on the bar, which you hang out at. And this is a label that will remain forever, even if you, as a young countryman, will go to another place; despite everything, you will always be the one who used to hang out at the bar X.

However, let us face it: at a bar, the biggest hurdle is not to develop a certain percentage of self-mockery, which is necessary for survival inside it; the biggest challenge is to be able to acquire the skills to pursue an activity of the utmost importance: playing briscola. There is no way, if you play badly, you will be marked for life as “the one who does not know the signs, and plays the trumps half-ass.”

Obviously, I am just jocking (but not that much) about living in a small town. Living in a small hamlet, consisting of a few hundred houses and a single main road that crosses it from top to bottom, has its charm (I can tell you this, living here my whole life).

Beyond the clichés that have always opposed the small town to the great metropolis, like in the tale of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, there is something more that makes life in these corners of land so special.

In a world that is increasingly going in the direction of a fading of human relationships, in the small towns of Valdichiana Senese, where everybody knows each other, you can feel less “numbers” and more “people”. You can just go out for a coffee at the bar, knowing that you will surely find someone you know to have a word (starting with the bartender).

The days follow the rhythm of the seasons, that is, in summer you are out for exploiting down to the last ray of sunshine, and in winter at 10 pm there is nobody around, and not because people are afraid to go out, as it is in other parts of the world. The fact is that, in a village, in the evening there are no concerts-events, or nightclubs that organize soirees every day of the week, so in the evening, even young people, after dinner, stay at home, with their family, to watch a nice movie or read a good book, waiting for the weekend, when everyone comes out and meet again, without a precise date, always there, at the same bar.

Although we are not free from the events, which terrorize the rest of the world, inside the four walls of our small towns we feel more protected than ever. Because in the end, the fact of living a little in the middle of nowhere manages to reassure us, and makes us live at peace.