Today was a dear friend’s birthday. She died 13 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 and 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, skied at Abetone, took 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 now chef and while the other has gone into his father’s family business and is also doing well. So much time has past. I know she would have been proud of them. I am very sad to think she hasn’t watched them realize their dreams up close. Maybe she has from afar, I certainly do hope so.