Behind the Eyes We Meet

Gaiato, July 10, 1946

My dearest Luisa,

I’ve been at the sanatorium for just two days but I miss you already. What are you doing? I can picture you getting up in the morning, drinking your coffee, slipping on your pretty black dress, and going to work. I’m jealous of the customers you serve espresso to, the men waiting for their cold beer and panino1 . Here they make us drink lots of water and eat our vegetables. The fresh country air will help me recover, of that I’m certain. But the wind blowing across the mountain will never replace you by my side.

Write to me. Soon.

Your Sergio


Carpi, July 23, 1946


I miss you too. But the days are so full, I don’t have much time to think about it. Apart from work at the bar, I’m very busy with the household chores. I must help my mother take care of Irio, Carla, and Giovanna. My father and brother spend their days in the fields. In the evenings they need rest and good food: meat, pasta, polenta. I prepare the meals when I come home in the evening so that everything is ready for the next day. I’m not very fond of cooking, as you know. Sometimes I think I should have gone to the city, to Bologna or Modena, to study at university. I don’t know what I would have studied or where I would have found the money. Besides, I’m not that smart. I didn’t have high marks in college. So maybe it’s better this way. Life as it is, now. And it will be even more complete once you return. On that day, I will make you a cake—your favourite kind, the one with the almonds—even though you know I’m not fond of cooking. For you, it won’t be a chore.

Get well, get well soon,



Gaiato, August 6, 1946

Luisa mia,

I was so delighted to receive your letter that I worked myself into a coughing fit that lasted nearly an hour! I believe Doctor Franzoni was right: I would not have survived if I hadn’t come here. Though it is difficult for me to admit, it was necessary. Otherwise, I would have ended up like my poor sister Irene. I hope they will find a cure for tuberculosis one day. It’s hard to believe that she is gone. So young. She was engaged to be married to Bruno Sogari at the end of the summer. I think you know him. I would have liked to take you to the wedding on my arm. Would you have said yes? The marriage will never take place now. But promise me there will be other occasions to celebrate.

If you remember, slip something of yours into the next envelope you send. So I can have something that smells of you.



Carpi, August 30, 1946

Dear Sergio,

Please forgive me for not writing more often. The post can sometimes take weeks to reach me. And in the evenings I don’t always have the energy to sit down to write. My eyelids droop the moment I sit at the table and pick up a pencil. My days never end, I tell you. And I don’t want to write just anything. I want to choose the right words. You deserve that. I may not be very good at composing rhymes, but I know how to say what I think. I hope this pleases you. Sometimes, I admit, I should learn to bite my tongue, but the temptation is hard to resist. Yesterday, I made one of my customers at the bar angry; he claimed he ordered a panino with prosciutto cotto but I brought him a panino with prosciutto crudo. I told him to go cook the prosciutto himself. He didn’t find this very funny, and left without paying. Luckily my boss, Cavicchini, did not find out. I cannot lose this job. We need the money. I hope that one day our country will recover from this war that has sucked us dry, and that the future holds more fortunate times, nights without fear. Sometimes I can still hear the bombers overhead. In those moments, I wish you were here, just to hold my hand.

Are you taking good care of yourself ? That is the only thing that matters right now.