Uno Italiano

View of Florence from San Miniato al Monte - Igor Menaker

In one of my travels to Italy I found myself in Florence. Again. It was a warm October afternoon. Blue hazy skies. The magnificent structure of Brunelleschi’s Duomo was glittering in a distance cradled in the palms of the city. I was soaking in the sun and enjoying the view from a bench on the top of the hill by San Miniato al Monte. I was tired and I was drifting on and off from daydreaming to closing my eyes into actual dreams. My soul was floating above the city.

There was a cemetery just below the basilica. Big mossy gravestones and old marble sculptures. An inscription on one of the gravestones caught my eye. It had the date of birth and the date of death carved in a stone. But instead of a name it had just two words in big capital letters: “UNO ITALIANO”. No name, just one human being who was born, lived his life and died. Nothing left but the bones below the gravestone.

Indeed, “UNO ITALIANO” may feel patriotic to the Italian heart. But for me it had a meaning of one individual human being. Like you and me. And it reminded me once again about the uncomfortable truth we have to deal with every minute of our lives: you and I and everyone we know will die, and little to nothing that we do will ever matter. One human being at a time.