This is a story that began more than 30 years ago. I was eight at the time and as always, I spent a few weeks with my maternal grandmother in her country house in Podio. Podio is a small village on the plain between Bene Vagienna and Monforte, where my grandmother, Maria, was born. The daughter of brickmakers, she became a teacher. I remember her as very soignée-she always wore red lipstick and a string of pearls and carried a matching handbag and hat when she went out.