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Friday, April 2, 2010

Local Color

Rick Gush
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

Rick's scooter is easy to drive and carries more than one would think
Photo by Rick Gush
One of my favorite things about life in Italy is the different rhythm of my life here.  In the States, my weekend responsibilities would include tasks like washing the cars and mowing the lawn.  Here my responsibilities include buying the fruit and fresh cheese and I have no lawn and no car, just a vegetable garden and a Vespa.

There is an open-air vegetable market in the center of the pedestrian zone in the city center and it’s open every day until lunchtime. 

On Saturdays even more vendors come in and the whole thing stays open until evening.  My particular assignment is related to a group of growers up near Alessandria that pools their produce for the marketing efforts.  They have a booth here on Saturdays, and it’s my job to buy fruit for the family, some for my wife and I, some for her mother, and sometimes some for her sister. 

Chores in Italy differ greatly from those in the United States
Photo by Rick Gush
At the moment we’re enjoying what will probably be the last pears available for the season, and even the apples will disappear in a month or so when the other fruit starts appearing.  Thursday used to be my soft cheese buying day at the weekly market, but the cooks in my family are not using much soft cheese these days, so I don’t have that responsibility at the moment. 

OK, it’s been a year since I lauded my Vespa, so here goes again.  This is definitely my favorite form of transportation ever.  Parking’s a breeze and driving a scooter is a lot of fun because it’s sort of like flying.  The streets here are so narrow that driving a car is nervewracking, a collision with this or that is always threatening. 

When riding a scooter, it’s so narrow and agile that the chance of hitting something is really low.  And even though it’s just a scooter, I do manage to carry a lot of baggage when required.

I never go so fast as to get in trouble if there’s an accident.  I ride so slowly that I could just get off the scooter if there was an impending collision.  I actually did that a few years ago when another scooter pulled out in front of me from behind a parked truck. 

I had about a millisecond of time before the crash, and I did manage to put my feet on the ground and sort of stand up. 

My scooter kept on going and the other scooter crashed into it, but I was pretty much uninvolved.

Here’s a photo of my Vespa being used as a truck to carry a sack of concrete and some building blocks.  I’m quite susceptible to the attractions of automobiles, and I’ve owned a bunch, but without a doubt, the Vespa is the favorite mode of transport I’ve ever owned.

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