I am just back from my first trip to Europe. Bravissimo!! I spent 7 days in Italy, 2 in Florence, and 5 in central Tuscany. The art, the architecture, the people, the wine, the countryside, the food, and the list goes on, and of course, gets repeated.
Part of my mission on this trip was to explore the possibility of establishing a satellite office somewhere in Italy for the Monroe County Bar Association. Though the Board of Trustees had not authorized this research, I was convinced that they would be impressed and supportive of my innovative idea.
So I dedicated one day to exploring this wonderful possibility. I set out to meet the Avvocatos (Italian for lawyers) in Tuscany. My strategy was quite simple. I started by Googling them to locate their offices, and successfully found a few. I thought it was best if I catch them early, so I began knocking on doors about 8am, you know, before the courts opened. But tried a few, and none were open. One person suggested I “come back at 10 when they open.” I was shocked! How do you get any work done starting at 10:00 AM? To bide my time, I sought out a small cafe for my 3rd cappuccino of the day. I had almost 90 minutes to kill. Oh my god, what do I do for 90 free minutes in Italy? Sad, sad commentary that I even had to think this, but it is true. So I took a deep breathe, and told myself to relax and try to embrace the spirit of Italy.
Soon, a well dressed (beautiful Italian suit) gentleman took a seat beside me with his own cappuccino. Out of the corner of my eye, I observed that he appeared most relaxed. No newspaper, no paperwork, and NO PHONE! He just sat there with a look of peacefulness. Puzzled by this non-stressed behavior, I was dying to engage him, to see if he spoke English, in order to engage him in some good dialogue to find out what his story was. Who are you? What do you mean to simply JUST SIT HERE? Don’t you have something to do? Somewhere to be? WHY ARE YOU SO CALM????
Finally when I could not stand it anymore, I covered my watch, and said, “Excuse me, do you speak English?” to which he responded, “yes”. I went on to ask if he had the time. He told me that it was 9:20 AM. He must have noted my my impatience for the hour, as he went on to ask me where I was rushing off to.
I told him that I was doing some informal research, and I was waiting for the avvacatos to arrive in their offices so I could interview a few of them. He went on to ask me why I wanted to interview them?
I introduced myself, and explained my position back in the United States as a bar association executive director, and that while on vacation in Italy, I was doing some research on how bar associations functioned in Italy. I did not tell him about my plans to open a satellite office, as I did not want to appear to be presumptuous, as that could also be interpreted as “pushy American”. I explained that I had identified a few offices I was going to simply call on, to see if the avvacatos would agree to spend a few minutes with me, but found no one in yet.
With this, he began to laugh. When I asked why he was laughing, he responded, “Oh, you American’s…you work too hard! I am a lawyer, what would you like to ask me?” WOW, what incredible good fortune. Where do I start? By this time, I was on my 4th cappuccino, and my creative juices were overflowing.
I had done some advance research and knew that bar associations do in fact exist in Italy. So I asked, do you belong to your local bar association? He responded that he was a member of several bar associations, including The Bar Association of Tuscany. I then asked a number of questions about the practice of law, style courts, and the role of the bars in Italy. Avvacatos Michael San Gimignano was very talkative, considering he was on his first cappuccino of the day, so I could not imagine what he would be like on his 4th?
After about 30 minutes, and hearing about the good work of the associations in Italy, and the community service and wonderful events they hosted, it really all just sounded incredible. He asked me many questions about the MCBA and about the practice of law in Rochester. Avvacato San Gimignano stood to leave, and I thanked him for his time, for a great conversation, and for sharing with me their bar association world.
As he left, I had one final question, “Avvacato San Gimignano, by chance does your bar association need a bar executive? I can commute…” To which he responded, “Oh Mary, you are a funny American!” He went on to give me one piece of advice, “Mary, you are in one the most beautiful places in the world, stop working, stop thinking…rilassarsi divertirsi e essere in pace (enjoy, relax and be peaceful). You have had enough cappuccino for the day, it is time for a glass of fine vino!”
So I did!
NOTE TO READERS: This is my first attempt at fiction, how did I do? Do I have a future?
Thank you for checking in…. Mary