A Life of Purpose in her Home Town

by Yanjun Sun

The morning breeze is filled with moisture, giving Marina Mari a little coolness in June. Marina sits in Ristorante Caffè, her favorite place in Orvieto, resting as usual. She has lived here for 46 years, she dresses like an Italian, speaks like an Italian, but doesn’t eat like an Italian. It is time for breakfast; the air smells of espresso and croissants. Marina orders an orange juice and takes out her files to start her routine work.

Before work, Marina always starts her day at 7:30 in the morning. The beginning of the day is always hectic — getting out of bed, taking a shower, waking up her son, boiling the tea. After all this work, she can finally enjoy a short time with her tea and newspaper. Orvieto is a small town with narrow alleys, so driving is not a good idea here, and Marina always leave at 8:15 and walks to the office.

Calculating the expenditures, organizing the timetable of classes, planning the trips for students, allocating the apartments of students and teachers who toil in the K-State in Italy program are all Marina’s daily work. She is the one balancing the local sources and foreign visitors. The three-inch-high folder and the always ringing telephone on her table shows how busy her work is.

Marina wants to travel a lot, but her work limits her time. She has already been working here for 16 years. When she was young, she went to France, Spain and Greece. “I am addicted to modern art now,” says Marina about her travels. “Because of the sculpted look and the vitality of the art, my first choice is the Guggenheim museum in New York.”

Although she wants to enjoy traveling, she has to prepare the dinner after work. Marina likes to decide the daily menu in the market. The Italians’ standard dishes are the best. Everyone has their own recipes. The sauce always has herbs of basil, mushroom, and additional vegetables and spices. The whole house is strongly impregnated with the fragrance of meat sauce and wine. The fresh smell of Parmesan, basil and onion makes a great appetite for everyone.

After dinner, doing yoga or having a walk along the cliff is her own way to relax. The night wind is cool, carrying the scent of sun-scorched grass and the murmur of voices along the wall. Orvieto is a miraculous town with the power to pacify the heart of the people. Take a deep breathe, and all the exhaustion is blown away in the evening breeze.