Today was a dear friend’s birthday. She died ten years ago of cancer at the age of 37. Every time I hear a certain song, eat a particular food or hear a deeply Tuscan accent, I think of her. She was a wonderful, artistic, creative soul who suffered an awful early death from that plague – cancer. I miss Francesca all the time. She was one of my oldest friends. I met her when I was 24 living in Florence and I spent every weekend with her and her boyfriend/husband for the better part of six years. She lived in the Mugello, an area of Tuscany above Florence towards Bologna in an old Medici Villa.
She taught me how to make Castagnaccio, showed me how to restore paintings, make jewelry, make nocino, and so many other delights. We sung our lungs out to Jovanotti, Ligabue and other Italian singers. We traveled to Spain and Portugal in a car, skiing in the Val Badia, trips to Portovenere and everywhere else. She was incredibly wise and very different than I am as a person. None of that nostalgia crap she would say when I would get weepy over something. Not that she was without warmth, she wasn’t. She loved her sons to pieces, Matteo and Filippo. I adored her and I miss her to this day. I just want to remember her today. One of her sons is a chef and is about to move to Spain to live with his girlfriend. The other is now on his own as well. So much time has past. I know she would have been proud. I am very sad to think she can’t see them realize their dreams. Maybe she can. I hope so.