Thank you must be one of the most frequently used words in the English language. That, and sorry. But is there a point when a phrase becomes so commonplace that its meaning begins to lose significance?
Grazie is different. From the Latin gratia, this one simple word contains a world of meaning. It can be embellished in myriad ways: grazie mille, grazie di cuore, grazie infinite. We can raise it to the skies (grazie al cielo) or elevate our gratitude to the heavens (grazie a Dio) out of overwhelming relief. But grazie always remains in the plural as if one thank-you could never be enough, or perhaps in passing reference to Zeus’s daughters, the Graces (Le Tre Grazie), Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia, who were said to represent beauty, mirth and elegance, for grazie always denotes refinement, harmony and delicacy. Italian thankfulness also conveys an element of salvation and liberation; if you are pardoned for a crime, you are graziato.
Ahead of this year’s Thanksgiving, I am hearing—and feeling the grazie—everywhere I go. Sunday lunch at I’Brindellone saw me handing over the cash and being lavished with a plethora of grazie for having chosen to eat there. (Personally, I’m thankful for an Oltrarno restaurant where the food remains top-quality and reasonably priced. That tagliolini al tartufo!) The other day, an American couple in their twilight years were struggling up the Santa Maria Novella station steps with a quartet of cases. A young Italian guy stopped and insisted on helping them. “Grazie!” they chimed, tiredness in their voices. “Grazie a voi per essere qua!” he earnestly replied, grateful for their return to Italy. If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in the past twenty months, it’s the importance of kindness, of gentilezza, another word brimming with uniquely Italian import that should never be overlooked.
There’s something about beauty that makes us unconsciously grateful and New York-based photographer Ryan David’s capture of Florencehenge (forgive the appropriation!) is an impromptu act of thanksgiving to the city we all hold so dear. We’re not the only ones thinking this way as Lonely Planet names our Florence as the only Italian destination in its Best in Travel 2022 guidebook.
In this November issue of The Florentine, Daniela Lucioni speaks about her caring custodianship of a thirteenth-century palazzo, now a B&B with Duomo views; our friends over at Creative People in Florence treat us to an overview of the artisan scene, as does Kris Garland with her drive to support the city’s craftspeople this holiday season with her InBottega online shopping connection. Art and culture is our focus this month with Martin Holman’s review of Jeff Koons. Shine at Palazzo Strozzi, a look at the new Selfie Museum (it’s more of an installation!) and Hershey Felder’s forthcoming contemporary musical film, Dante and Beatrice in Florence.