Italy has a been on my mind quite a bit lately. We know the dreary statistics. But we also hear Italy singing. See its citizens reaching across balconies. Find them raising a glass of vino. That spirit in the face of tragedy is truly uplifting. But for me there’s something else.
For the past few years, I have been getting random love letters from Italy. Not love letters, really. Random emails is more like it. Messages in a bottle. All of them have attachments and most say “REPUBBLICA ITALIANA, CARTA DI CIRCOLAZIONE.” Many of those email attachments look something like this:
These are Vehicle Registration documents. Why me, you ask? Why am I receiving these messages? It’s, like, slightly strange, right? My best explanation is that it’s because one of my online nicknames is “libretto,” which itself comes from my identity as an author (libretto loosely translates to booklet). “Libretto” is also another name for this vehicle registration document, as in “Libretto di Circolazione.”
How these “messages in a bottle” end up in my mailbox is another question entirely. But they do. They’re sending their Libretto to libretto, I guess. My latest harvest turned up some 52 documents from Italy.
Below is a translation from an Italian automobile magazine about the significance of the Libretto di Circulazione:
I’ve long wanted to respond — somehow — to these love letters… But lacked a storyline. Now I have one. So Italy, in these crazy times, here is my love letter back to you.
May you always sing, may you always dance, may your hearts be glad with amore. I am keeping your personal information private, but I want the world to know where you are and where you live. This way, we have one less reason to forget you!
One thing I look for in your letters, Italy, is something to know you by. Sometimes I can see parts of your life. Your hand. Your foot. Your kitchen table. Occasionally there’s more. Thank you for this. It makes you that much more real. Just be sure to keep your hands off your face, at least for the time-being.
And yes, you are from all over the Italian peninsula. In the north. In the south. In the in-between. This love letter goes wherever you are. In the mountains. On the coast. In towns, big cities and villages.
Surprisingly — not surprisingly? — it’s not just Vehicle Registration cards you send me. A few years ago, I received a wedding programme from Acitrezza, Sicily. Its file name? Nuovo Libretto.
It looks like a cool place. Lorrie and I would love to go there. Not now. Later. When all this blows over. And please, keep your cards and letters coming, Italia. We’re thinking of you, con amore.