After nearly 2 months in Castelvecchio di Compito, I have grown accustomed to certain family rituals and routines. Folco naps around 2:30pm; and if he misses his nap, you will pay dearly for it around dinnertime. Vera & Anna have summer workbooks and every morning they will attempt one their many stall tactics. Simone smokes his pipe immediately after every meal and assumes the same contemplative position leaning out the window. Tonja is perpetually 30 minutes late, no matter how important the event.
There are also routines in how the village functions. Trash is taken to the curb on Thursdays, compost on Mondays, Glass/Plastics on Tuesdays and paper on Wednesdays. Maria (neighbor) takes her evening passegiata around 8:30pm. And the grumpy old Italian man across the street, I still have never gotten his name, is up at 6:00am watering the street…yes, the street…I have no idea why.
But perhaps the most reliable and punctual event is the arrival of La Postina – the mail woman – at 12:30pm sharp, 6 days a week. What is unusual about our Postina is that she is barely recognizable as an employee of the Poste. Rather than an official van or car, she drives a motorino (scooter). She wears a skimpy tank top, and her skin is approaching Oompa Loompa status under this Tuscan sun. Actually, the only thing that separates her from any other Italian woman riding a scooter is the fact that her helmet has a small yellow stripe with the words “Poste Italiano” written on it.
The other half of this regular event occurs at 12:29pm, when Toast lifts his head and perks up his ears, hearing the sound of the motorino’s engine around the bend. He races down the stairs, oblivious to any obstacle or small child in his way, and takes off down the street. What happens next is not so unlike the American phenomenon of dog vs. mailman: a mess of cursing, barking, and screeching breaks. La Postina parks her motorino in the middle of the piazza and, leaving the engine running, proceeds to deliver mail to the surrounding 15 residences. Meanwhile, Toast continues to bark with all his might, but never once gets within biting distance of La Postina.
The two proceed to have their ridiculous territorial dance for the entire 10 minutes that she is in town. And then she hops on her moto and disappears down the hill. Toast returns upstairs to his bed, proud of his accomplishment in “scaring” off an unwelcome guest.
Another universal phenomenon: it appears that all dogs chase all mail men.