Goodbye, Signor Verza

Annalisa Verza is a talented, beautiful friend of my heart, and a person I admire very much. I wanted to say in a small way how warm and kind her father seemed to me when I met him on those occasions in Rovigo.

Last Tuesday, he joined Anna's lovely mother, whom I met in Oxford but whom I will always associate with Venice. My prayers of course, are with my friend. A good man has passed on, and every time I dip a piece of bread in wine I will think of his kindness and intelligence. He learned to do that when he was young, in the countryside of Italy. We had such strange conversations early in the morning, he not speaking English and me not speaking Italian, to my shame.

Signor Verza and his family have taught me, though they do not know it, a great deal about the dignity and decency of the ordinary Italy that people like me almost never see. There is a calm and an honesty about many of Italy's long suffering decent citizens that is often lost on English speakers and, indeed, on those who only know of that country from the news and from their fantasies. I will always be grateful for the hospitality I was shown and the love I saw.

My thoughts are with you, my friend. I hope that you don't mind that I made what passes for a public tribute.

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