House Hunting in Lagnasco

April 1

Monday we drove back to Lagnasco. Tony spent a long time practicing the following phrases in Italian, to explain to his relatives who he was and why he was here:

Mi chiamo Tony Familia.

Mi dispiace. Parlo piccolo Italiano

I miei antenati vivevano in Lagnasco. Sono Bodreri. Siamo parenti.

Vorrei vivere in Lagnasco. Desidero affittare un appartamento amobiliare.

abbiamo bisogno dell’aiuto.

Tony’s relatives in Logan had shown us photographs of the Bodrero family they found in Lagnasco, and told us that the flower shop was owned by Roberta Bodrero. Accordingly, we went and knocked on the door of the shop. Nobody was there. The place was closed until 4:00, and it was only just 1:00. We decided to make the best of it and eat lunch, so we stepped into the cafe across the street. It was lovely and very cozy inside, and we had a delicious lunch of pasta with pesto, roast beef, and divine creme caramel to finish it off. Then we took a nice walk around the town. We came back at 4:00 to find the flower shop still closed. Taking a closer look at the sign, we realized that our limited Italian had failed to note that the shop didn’t open at all on Mondays.

Now thoroughly dispirited, we moved to the boldness of desperation. We approached the old men sitting in the town square (the same ones who had watched us walk around and around that tiny town all day long) to inquire if they knew of anywhere to rent in Lagnasco. They took us around the corner to an office where Robbi worked. He had fortuitously lived in Bolivia, and so could speak quite a bit of Spanish. I explained that we needed accommodations in Lagnasco. No, not in Saluzzo (the larger town adjacent), but in Lagnasco. He made a few calls, but was doubtful that anyone would have a place to rent out to us.

We explained that Tony was descended from the Bodreros of Lagnasco, upon which he produced a young man who worked in the office, and was named Luca. Luca Bodrero. He was very nice too, and thrilled to meet some relatives, however distant. But neither he nor Robbi could think of anyone with an apartment to let. Luca’s grandfather would be home at 8:00 that evening and might be able to help, but for the moment, they could not think of a single available apartment in the whole town. Robbi did finally think of someone with a tiny studio apartment he was keeping for his son. He tried to call, but there was no answer, and he was sure the man was sleeping. He sent us over to ring the bell, for a half an hour, he assured us, until we could wake him up. We thanked him, and walked over to the place he had directed us, with some trepidation. I rang the buzzer and explained sheepishly into the microphone that we were relatives of the Bodreros from the United States and looking for an apartment to rent. “There is no apartment,” was the cordial but brisk reply, and that was that.

Dejected, we went back to our car and sat down, trying to decide whether we should wait three hours for the grandfather to come home and tell us there was no apartment for rent in Lagnasco or just go home to Torino and search for a place to do our laundry. In fact, thinking about it, we wondered if there were any point to trying to live in Lagnasco. It did seem unlikely. And did we really want to live in such a tiny town? What if we couldn’t even get our internet to work? And we rather did like Turin anyway.

We decided to pray about it. Right there in the car, Tony said “please help us to know if we should live in Lagnasco.” We waited expectantly for some feeling to come. Finally, a little voice piped up, “no.” It was Axa. Tony tried again. “Please help us know if we should live in Torino” he continued. Again, Axa said “no.” He finished his prayer and we looked at each other doubtfully. Then a silver mercedes pulled up in front of us. Robbi and Luca jumped out.

“Don’t leave,” said Luca. “I’ve called my mother, and she will be in the flower shop around 6:00.” We exchanged emails, and he gave us his phone number. As they drove off, we realized that as we had been praying for guidance on where to live, Robbi and Luca had been driving around Lagnasco, looking for us. So we think we ought to live in Lagnasco.

Later that evening, we met Roberta and her mother Anna in the flower shop, along with Luca’s brother, Paolo, who was just as nice. We also met her brother, Andrea. We had a little bite to eat, and then headed off to a Bed and Breakfast run by a Lagnascan and her Kiwi husband. Roberta was concerned that we didn’t understand anything she said. Then she invited us to dinner at her house. It was one of the most delightful evenings of our life. We talked and talked, and got comfortable with each other. She showed us her charming condominium, which was immaculate and beautifully decorated. She whipped up a delicious dinner. We tried to figure out the common Bodrero ancestor, and shared details of our lives. It was as if we had known each other for years and years. They promised to try to help us find an apartment in Lagnasco, although nobody in the town rents.