As they drove through the cultivated plains to reach Lucca they passed an old man along the country lane accompanied by his donkey, laden with wood. “That does it!” yelled the father. “Turn around and take me back to Roma! The last thing I saw when I left Lucca forty years ago was a man with a donkey; today I return and the first thing I see is a man with a donkey! Nothing has changed here. Take me home to America.”
To him, the donkey symbolized backwardness. He was sure everything was as it always had been, including the poverty he had grown up with, and he didn’t want to relive any of it. He was unconvinced that Italy had become a modern nation with an active economy during his absence.
The continuity of old traditions is something we find so appealing about Italy. Things have changed, that is certain, but many of the long-held customs and crafts are – at least for the moment – still alive.
Completely logical. It was only then that we took notice of just how many older model Pandas were still in use in Basilicata, and now understood why. The newer Panda is much larger and less desirable in towns like this; old ones are greatly in demand.
Yet the mule guy continues unfazed. The Panda, after all, cannot climb steps. His customers are mostly anziani, elderly folks, but he can be seen around town every day guiding the mule up the stepped, inclined alleyways with bundles of wood to fuel their stoves and fireplaces. It is an old-world tradition that will likely die when he does, but for now he and his mule carry on.