Flies and the number 58

Life changed the day the people of Pezza discovered that flies were scared of the number 58.

Life changed for the better for calligraphers, for potters and for tile firers. Every family wanted a 58 tile to hang below the crucifix above the bed. Some went further and had a tile, or at least a piece of paper with the number written black on it, in every room or above every door.

For a while life changed for the worse for Piero, who drove around the town in his Ape car, stopping in the shade and selling whisks and swatters, horses’ tails and, lately, plug-in insecticides. But he was only away for a week and then he was back, driving around in the hottest hours, offering tiles and earthenware numbers, the hooks and nails to hang them from and, the biggest novelty, a portable laminating machine for those who could not afford the pottery numbers but were embarrassed by the tattered sheets of paper that flapped above their doorways.

But life changed most, and for the best, for those who lived at number 58. Visitors from the north and from further began to buy up the lucky houses – Zia Maria became the talk of the village when she sold her family house at via Ferramosca 58 to a couple of Norwegian interior designers and moved in with her daughter and son-in-law.

In later years, who knows what happened, to the flies, to Piero and, perhaps most importantly, to Zia Maria, her daughter and her son-in-law. But for now, the people of Pezza were happy.

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