by Mirna Pleines
I have never wanted to understand the Italian language so much as when I met Signora Karla. While venturing out alone on the cobblestone streets of Cagli, I stumbled upon a small church at the end of town. The door was open, I walked in and there I met her. I introduced myself, “Il mio nome è Mirna. Come ti chiami?”
Signora Karla was in the process of locking up the old church. When she saw me, she smiled and gestured me to come in. After my introduction, she began speaking to me in her beautiful language and all I could say, “Non capisco Italiano, scuse.” Of course she knew I did not speak the language but she did not seem to care, she wanted to so much to share her church. She talked and pointed at the old church artifacts. Because I speak Spanish, I was able to understand a word here and there but nothing that I could put together that would make sense to me.
Very quickly, I became frustrated with my inability to understand what she was saying. Signora Karla was sharing with me the history of this beautiful church and I was missing it all. I felt heartbroken. I wanted to understand every detail. At one point, she grabs my hand and takes me to the front of the church. She wanted to show me something. She opens a hidden compartment in the alter table. It was an old statute of Jesus. It was beautiful. I took pictures as she kept talking and pointing. I thanked her a million times, “Grazie mille!” Still frustrated that I did not have more words to express my sincere gratitude.
We walked out together and she locks up the church behind us and invites me to her casa. A short narrow walk up a cobblestone street from the church, Signora Karla spoke to me as if I could understand every word she was saying. All I could do was nod and smile. What I was able to understand is that we were walking on a street that was built in 1265. Numbers are easy to decipher for me. At the end of the street, she stops and points up at an old and weathered painting of the blessed Mary and baby Jesus. It was beautiful.Signora Karla looked so prideful as she pointed. I could not help but smile.
Soon we arrived to her home where I met her husband. After the brief introduction, she led me to her fruit stand, which was situated next to her home. Holding my hand, she takes me in, she introduces me to her son, gives me a hug, a kiss and a banana.
“Buona notte Signora Karla! And Grazie Mille"