Mondays in Scandiano bring the market. Not just the market, but THE Market. This town goes all out every Monday. Think of it like a farmer’s market in America that takes over an entire town instead of just an empty parking lot. Also add in toys, clothing, home goods, food, meats, cheeses, vegetables and fruits, honey, wine, anything you could possibly think of. At times, there have also been clowns making balloon animals, and Vance is always presented with a spada (sword) free of charge.
The first Monday we were here, back in the fall, I was completely blown away. The entire town was covered in tents and small vending carts, with shopkeepers selling their goods to passerby. Even the cold or rain doesn’t keep people from attending. Vance and Caroline and I immediately made it a mainstay of our weeks here, to visit the market every Monday, grab an erbazzonne ( a delicious herb, spinach, and cheese pastry) or cannoli from a nearby bakery, and peruse the isles.
I buy my Parmigiano Reggiano every Monday from the Parmigiano Reggiano “guy”. The Gold Standard of PR’s, aged 30 months and only about 14 Euro per Kilo. I have bought souvenirs for family and friends from the clothing tents, as well as a few things for myself. Our veggies come from the hands of the farmer who picked them that morning, carefully checking the state of her basil, tomatoes, cantaloupes, greens, and onions to make sure they are looking good. And everything tastes so much better knowing where it came from.
It is so much fun to walk around town and enjoy the different vendors. Mondays also bring a welcome time for community, as the entire town comes out to witness the market. People are gathered in the streets chatting, the cafes are packed with loud locals having an espresso and recounting their weekends and vacations. I used to notice many people gathered around a cork board that was hung on the side of one of the buildings downtown. At first I thought it was just community events, but upon closer inspection, I found that it was a board of obituaries, a place to remember those that the town has lost in the past week or two.
The market is more than just purchasing goods. It is a testament to how much the community in Scandiano (and the communities all over Italy, as every single town has a similar weekly event) cares about its members, both young and old. They take the time to say hello, ask how each other is faring, find out what is going on that week, pat the heads of the children. It is more than just a quick “hi, how are you” with no meaning behind it. They care and they support local producers and vendors.
This kind, caring, personable nature is something I hope to carry with me always. It is a compassion that we share in our human experience. And it is fun to support the efforts of people who are generally trying to make the best life for themselves and their communities!