Fruttivendolo: a vendor of fresh, usually locally grown fruits and vegetables, also known as one of your best friends in Italy.
Everyone knows that one of the best parts about living in Italy is the food, especially the fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables you can find at any open-air market throughout the country.
But not everyone has their Antonio.
The other morning as I arrived in the piazza with Marisa a bit earlier than usual, I was greeted by five or six elders of the village sitting on the little wall by the bar. I didn’t think much of it (except that, sadly, perhaps someone had died as that’s one of the few times you’ll see so many people huddled together) until I heard the rumblings of an Ape coming around the square.
Buzzzzzzzzzz buzzzzzz buzzz buzzz buzzzzzzzz.
Suddenly these normally slow-moving folks were scampering to stand up and secure a prime spot; a couple of them were propped up on canes while others leaned on one another for support.
And, of course, there I was without my camera or even a phone or iPad to catch this amazing image of them playfully throwing elbows as they shook out their plastic bags and clamored for the best eggplants, artichokes, oranges, lettuce, fennel, and more from the back of the old, dark green Ape (three-wheeled truck) of Antonio, the fruttivendolo.
Shouts asking how much these were and when those were picked and descriptions of what was to be done with this particular kilo of fava beans permeated the cool morning air as my daughter tugged on her father’s shirt to be picked up so she could see the artichokes he was buying, too.
We’ve bought (and I’m not exaggerating) 250 artichokes from Antonio this spring. So far. You’ll notice there are none in these photos? That’s because we bought them all.
So yeah, Antonio is definitely our fruttivendolo.
And unfortunately, these photos came from a calm time around the Ape, so you’ll just have to imagine the glorious chaos that ensues when Antonio first pulls up in the piazza on Monday and Thursday mornings.
Antonio is somewhere in the vicinity of 80 years old but has only been driving around from village to village for the past ten years or so — post-retirement, I suppose. He grows what he sells on his property in Guardavalle (the next town over from me on the Ionian Coast) and then spends many mornings chugging up and down and all around these windy roads of ours, delivering his goodies to the locals.
Last summer, his son started coming around with him, I suppose to learn the routes as well as the faces and names of the regular customers, preparing for the inevitable.
But today I’m not thinking about the inevitable. I’m only thinking about and appreciating Antonio, my local fruit and vegetable guy, and wishing you the good fortune of finding your own Antonio someday if you haven’t already.
A good Antonio is hard to find.
This post is part of this month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable‘s theme “My Local.” Read other posts here: