Life Lessons from the Market


The seasons are changing here in Siena. Today’s the 1st of October, and although I’ll still put on a pair of sandals and go outside without a coat, there’s no denying the imminent arrival of autunno here in Tuscany. So what does that mean for those of us living here? It has meant back to school for the kids and university students. It’s meant closing up the beach house on the coast and spending more weekends in the city. It means drinking more hot tea and less iced tea. It means the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and it seems as if everyone is doing a little more reflecting on life.

The other day I took a trip to Florence with just me, myself and I for company. It was a productive day. I got some shopping done, had a leisurely lunch and got around to doing some thinking. I wandered through Florence’s well-known San Lorenzo Market admiring all of the beautiful leather jackets, purses and gloves, thinking that the temperatures would soon be arriving that warranted wearing them. At one particular stand, the friendly vendor and I struck up a conversation. It came out that I was Canadian, that he was married with a son, that I lived in Siena and that the seasons were indeed changing. As I contemplated buying a few things from him, he launched into a spiel about his exchange policy:

“And if you find that you want to exchange what you have bought, signorina, all that matters is that it is in a condition that I can sell it again. I mean, if you just try on the gloves, take them home and decide you want a different colour, va bene. But if you buy my boots and then wear them for three days outside then you want to return them, it is not possible.”

I nodded and continued to browse. He continued to talk.

“And I’m here every day of the week except for Sundays, if you ever wanted to exchange anything. But don’t come on Sunday. Because one day, we have to rest, no? I have my church in the morning, and the rest of the day with my famiglia. These are the important things in life. Why should I work 7 days a week and never get to see my family and enjoy time with my friends? For what? So I can eat one or two more bistecche (steaks) in my life? I don’t think so.”

I agreed with him and decided on what to purchase. As he was wrapping up my parcels, he added, “Grazie, signorina! And remember, I’m not here on Sundays because we have to work to live, not live to work.”

Just a little something that we should all keep in mind.

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