Old Men and Gelato

by L'Oreal Thompson (Loyola College)
SITTING ON THE WALLS in Cagli’s main piazza, I’m constantly reminded of how simple life can truly be. A group of kids devour pizza by the fountain. A young couple has a nice chat over cappuccino and croissants at Mimi’s cafe. An older couple strolls around the perimeter of the piazza, hands behind their backs. And old men discuss the latest in politics, sports and town gossip at Caffe D’Italia. But one older gentleman in particular appears to love life more than anyone else.

I’m entirely convinced 72-year-old Romano Romanini holds the secret to a long and happy life. Romano has a two-gelato-a-day rule, one that I eagerly adopted. If my 82-year-old grandfather lived in Cagli, I’m entirely convinced him and Romano would quickly become BFFs. Like Romano, my grandfather also takes pleasure in ice cream. I can already picture them sitting in the piazza for hours talking about everything under the sun. Life just doesn’t get much better than that.

But, unfortunately, my grandfather does not live in Italy, where it appears as though people have more reverence and admiration for senior citizens. Unlike the United States, where it seems as though people have a countdown until it’s time to throw Grandma into the assisted living home, the Italians take on a different approach. It is not uncommon to find grandparents living with families and it isn’t a burden to care for them either.

In most parts of the world, more years equals more wisdom. Even though my grandfather never finished high school, I truly believe he is one of the wisest people I know. He would fit in perfectly with the slow-paced and simple Italian way of life. A part of me wishes I lived here with my family and my Pop-Pop, but since he’s not a fan of flying, I’ll just adopt those Italian values to my American lifestyle. Here’s to old men and gelato around the world!