“I hate Giotto,” says Monica, when we are alone in her shop. “You’re not supposed to say that. And I know he changed everything, perspective, et cetera--but I hate him. I had him for nine months in high school. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be an Italian high school student? History! Two thousand five hundred years of history--though of course of modern times nothing is said. Twice a day at least they must tell you that the best times were seven hundred years before you were born. If you are unlucky you get a teacher who wants to do a whole year of Dante. Not just six months--a year. Or Leopardi, the most depressing writer ever. I know you say you like these things--but imagine you are in high school. Imagine it is Spring!
"Your teacher announces, ‘And now we will study Giaccomo Leopardi’ and you think, ‘That is it. I am going to kill him.’
"As for me, I keep my own opinions. Of course I sell whatever calendars but if the customer asks me a question I am like, ‘Giotto, who?’"