Friday, December 7, 2012

Barby and "Tea with Mussolini"


Barby’s on my mind.   When her son David remembered her as a wonderful mom, remembered her art, books, and pie crust, my mind immediately jumped to the movie “Tea with Mussolini.”  God knows why!  That’s the brilliant 1999 partially-autobiographical film by Franco Zeffirelli that takes place in Florence, Italy before and during World War II.  An immediate association buried deep in my unconscious, I guess.  I haven’t thought of the film, which Barby and I loved, for years.

Maybe I was thinking how amazing and special it would be growing up surrounded by such witty, erudite, and talented women as those played by Judi Densch, Maggie Smith, Judy Plowright, Cher, Lily Tomlin, some of Barby’s favorite actresses.   We gushed on and on about the film in a phone call, the Toledo-Washington, DC connection.

Maybe I was thinking of the boy Luca Innocenti , who imbibed the women’s love of the arts, their distinctiveness, their passions.  The Italians called this group of English and American ex-pats the “Scorpioni,.” not very pleasant, but frankly, my dear, the women didn't give a damn!  They were independent, quirky, some acerbic and haughty, others down to earth and compassionate, all passionate about life and art, all passionate about entertaining and being entertained.    

It’s not that there’s a one-to-one relationship here. It’s just that thinking about Barby can take you all over the cultural map across the ages.  Barby’s life triggers memories, some serious, some hilarious.   It’s a great trip.  Lord knows what will pop up next.   
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