The Pharmacist in Anghiari


This is going to be a short blog, about an ordinary everyday encounter. One morning last week I went down to the pharmacy to buy some band aids. I’d cut my thumb the night before in an absent-minded moment. With great care, the pharmacist, in a white jacket, took me around to a seat behind the counter and asked me to put my thumb on a bed of cottonwool so that she could look it. When I was going on about how stupid I’d been, she said, with understanding, ‘it happens’. We laughed about the state of ‘being in a hurry’.

Out of a special box came one medication after another, each gently applied to my thumb. With each application, she asked if it was OK, did it hurt, and so on. Then it was dressed in layers, with a little space left at the top, ‘for the wound to breathe’. She emphasised the importance of breathing.  Having been given some plastic gloves for showering, and advice about what to do in the next few days, I left, with my thumb wrapped as carefully as they wrap pecorino, prosciutto …well, just everything.

The whole procedure had been done without any sense of rush, any sense of other things having to be done. The shop had been filling up, but everyone was patient and there were others to help. Amongst other things, I had learnt that the pharmacist has an Australian friend, a photographer, who lives half the year here, near San Sepolcro, and half the year in Sydney. We covered quite a range, all with very good humour. And, like everyone here, she was encouraging of my Italian.

I stepped into the piazza in good spirits: something as minor as a cut thumb had been the occasion for a meaningful encounter. And I thought again of the common saying here: ‘piano, piano’ (slowly, slowly). This is how I had been attended to. I could go so far as to say that it’s a way of life here. It made a difference to my day.

PS Just as I finish writing this, it has started to snow. Although it has been getting steadily colder, this was not forecast for today, and I had plans for heading out. I’ll get a fire going and stay in.


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