Nell'amicizia, Italians do not necessarily aim for understanding. The simply see, know and feel. And while this type of soul-searching needs no consent, real trust might not apear for years.
People phone the pressroom with various questions. Some depend on the season. In autumn, they call wondering where to buy Halloween costumes and where to find canned pumpkin for pies. In winter, they ask how to get flu vaccinations and where to go to celebrate Christmas mass. Up until last week, our prize-winning call came from an Italian man who rang The Florentine to get the metric equivalent of inches and ounces. But his first-place rank in the ‘Top 10 telefonate of all time’ was recently lost to a woman named Sandra who phoned to ask a favor. She was leading a round-table discussion on friendship in Italy and wanted to know if I’d ever written an article about amicizia.
‘Well, not specifically. But, I can write one this week, if you want’, I offered, relieved to have an assignment.
It didn’t take long to discover, however, that amicizia is not as friendly a word as it sounds. Writing about friendship is like standing in a field, hoping a butterfly will land on your hand. And if by chance it actually does, it’s a fragile creature whose wings should not be tampered with. Nonetheless—when Elleci asked what word he’d be drawing this week, I answered, ‘L’amicizia. A lady asked me to write about it.’
He usually never argues about the expressions I choose, but apparently my answer surprised him, ‘That’s way too broad a topic’! he protested.
‘Maybe—but the real problem is that it’s made me realize how few friends I have’.