I've been thinking about what the best parts of Fate Bene Fratelli were. I have a few favorites.
First there is Camomilla time!!! Every nite, around 8 pm, one of the staff made the rounds on the floor with a metal teapot full of steaming camomilla tea. 8 pm was the beginning of the dispensing of medications for the evening, and the start of bedtime. For me, by 8pm every nite I was wiped out and very eager to hear that voice at my doorway asking "Camomilla????" SI!!!!!!!!!
Next there's Giordano, my next door neighbor. Every morning, right after breakfast was served, I had to run (correction, make that hobble) to my 8:30 am session with Blagha. And every morning, right outside my door, Giordano, in his wheelchair, was taking up his position for the day. Most of the wheelchair bound residents seem to do this same thing, They would get themselves ready for the day, then go to the hallway to watch what was going on. When I did my walks up and down the hallway I'd pass them all one by one. No one ever said a thing to me, but they all watched me. And when I was in my room in my bed, I'd hear people pass my room and ask Giordano about " the Americana", One day on my rounds I just started saying hello to people as I passed by. Giordano was the one who spoke back. The next day I found Giordano wheeling right along beside me as I walked, so I said, "Let's go together!" I could manage that in Italian. We ended up stopping at the end of the hall to have a great conversation. He asked me about why I was here in Italy, and he told me about his one and only trip to America, a month long vacation to the West Coast.
Thereafter when someone passed Giordano's room asking about "the Americana", I'd hear him answer "She's Italian too!!", and day by day, as I made my rounds down the hall saying Buon Giorno to every one, little by little they would answer me back. Giordano and I would have little conversations every day whenever we passed each other.
Giordano was such a character. My room, and also his, were right opposite the nurses station. He never rang his bell to call a nurse if he needed one, he would just bellow. Nightly, we would hear him yell " Olio!!". Giordano needed a nightly dose of oil, I guess. It got so funny hearing him yell for "Olio" that I also started yelling " Bring Giordano his Olio". The nurses would just stop in my room , laughing, and say "OK. Basta (Stop)". I miss seeing Giordano everyday. I hope he is ok.
Next there is the nursing staff on First floor. Oh my god, this is a great bunch of men and women. There were only one or two of them who knew a few words of English, so I not only had the challenge of getting my knee rehabilitated, but also to communicate. All of these people are special, a few of them stick out in my mind: Nicola, a nurse, who had his first day of work at Fate Bene Fratelli during my stay. I'll never forget the day he and another nurse had the fun task of getting my sock (calze) on my leg after one of my pool sessions. He had never done this before, so it was a good training exercise for him. These two poor nurses looked like they were trying to hog-tie me and all I could do was laugh. It took them both about 20 minutes to get the one sock finished, and they left my room exhausted. And one one of my very last days, Nicola was the one who brought me my ice pack at the end of the day. My leg was swollen and hurting. He handed me the ice and said to me in Italian, "Basta. Stay in bed. You are on the go all day, from 8;30 to now, and in between you walk. And then you die. Let your knee rest now. Basta".
Next there is Rosita. On the morning I met Rosita, she was coming into our room to make beds. The first thing she said to me, in English, was " Put it on the table". I was confused, I asked her " What?". Then she said, in Italian, "That's the only English I know, so I thought I'd say it to you". Quite a few times after that when I'd see Rosita either she or I would begin with " Put it on the table".
On my last few days at Fate Bene Fratelli, I started taking photos of people with my iPhone. The staff cracked me up, they all wanted to see the photos of themselves. I honestly never want to forget them, or my time spent there. My one regret is that one of my favorite characters was off from work those days so I missed getting a shot of Guilio. Guilio scared me at first because he just didn't look like a nurse to me. He looked more like a biker dude. He had longish hair, and this scary tattoo of a snake that took up half his arm. I had to hold my mouth shut from laughing when it was his turn to serve meals because he looked so darned funny in a plastic apron and plastic cap on his head. But, despite his outward appearance, Guilio turned out to be the most gentle and tender of them all. He found his calling as a nurse, I can tell, and I was lucky enough to experience it.
My list goes on, but I'll stop here.
My Italian improved dramatically during my three weeks here. Who knew there'd be such an additional bonus!