I came here in 2001 and bought a ruin. It was magnificent. I walked in and I just knew it was magical and I gave the real estate agent a deposit in just 10 min after he showed me the structure. My neighbor was an interesting character named Bruno or “Gnocchetto”. It took me 5 years to earn the honor of being a friend but he eventually took me in. I would watch him from my balcony for my sunset ritual, a glass of wine and sunset gaze of the Mediterranean Sea. I watched him build a extraordinary garden one meter at a time, everyday.
Bruno is a farmer and wakes up everyday at 4am, has breakfast at the bar with his farmer friend Giovanni then goes to piazza Europa where he sells his vegetables freshly harvested at an open market. The vegetable stand is open until 11:30am then he has lunch and a siesta. At 2pm he is in the fields of vegetables tending to them and planting for the up coming season. He comes home at around 6pm.
My sunset ritual was hard to miss. I would sit there, wine in hand, waiting for the enchanted moment when the sun bows close to the sea. The light becomes golden, blessing the earth as if a flock of angels were flying over the land to shower it with rays of gold. The moment is brief but so beautiful that I looked forward to it everyday.
When Bruno enters his garden, he is greeted by an ark. Peacocks, ducks, funny feathered chickens, turkeys, big white dogs and a flock of cats like an old Saint Francis of Assisi postcard. He feeds the procession then begins to work on his garden.
His ritual became part of mine. Although on the other side of the fence, it was always an essential part of the whole scene. It started with the sunset and a glass of wine that turned into days, weeks and then a decade. I saw him build the impossible a meter each day. He had a vision and tenaciously built a sanctuary where hundreds of visitors come every year for a stroll in the summer afternoons to savor that brief moment when god shines his divine light before nights silent repose.
Bruno, although a simple farmer, has become one of my influential teachers in life. I don’t sit on my balcony anymore but have put on some gloves and rolled up my sleeves and help him when I can. Bruno became my godfather a few years back and my house was sold but I made a real friend and mentor.