I learned today the sad news that Natalina Zafferri, better known as Lina Nizza, died yesterday. She was in an RSA (nursing home) since 2014.
Guests of Casa La Pace from 2011 – 2013 may remember her as the old lady who sat in our courtyard and spoke very loudly. And Lina didn’t care that our guests didn’t know Italian, she would have a long, loud discourse with anyone.
When Pepper and I first arrived in Ghivizzano, Lina was in the courtyard to greet us. She seemed to be there always: any time we walked out the front door or walked into the courtyard returning home. She had a sixth sense about new arrivals, coming out of the passageway from her house just as our guests were rolling their suitcase to the front door.
For a very long time, I tried to avoid her. Lina had a severe face, a loud grating voice, and a ‘blue’ vocabulary that few other Italians could match. When she saw me, she’d yell “O, Americano”, and then follow with a long discourse. I would respond politely – and then make a quick exit.
One day, as we were loading our dirty laundry into our car, she rushed to the gate and yelled, “Where are you going?” in an accusatory manner. I responded that we were going to the laundrymat to wash our clothes. There was silence for a moment, and then Lina yelled, “Why are you going there? I have a perfectly good washing machine that is going to waste. Use mine!”
From that point on, we were fast friends. As she became less mobile, I sometimes dropped by and sat in her cozy kitchen to chat for a few minutes.
Our neighbors told me we were lucky to have met Lina in her declining years, when she wasn’t so cruel and annoying. I am lucky to have known her and to have been a friend.