Ballo Liscio

July 2, 2012 / Local Interest
The Oltrepo' Pavese, Lombardia

The elderly, pot-bellied dancers do it best. They seem to float, with pressed shirts and pleated trousers. Sometimes they hopscotch or stumble onto the dance floor, behind their still spry woman. But once on the slippery floor gravity seems lifted. Like the burden of their years.

A smile on his face again, eyes twinkling anew. The music, quiet 50’s hits, waltzes, cha cha chas, mazurkas, begins. His wife, just like when they were first in love, keeps on looking straight ahead, counting dance steps, while his gaze shoots back and forth across the dance floor. Do they see how easily he still dances? How handsome he still is? Forever young! He is free!

He tries his rusty Roman lover ways: a wink here, a smile there. During his hip movements he puts up with the pain with a grimace. But his moves still work and he feels twenty again for a while, until the music stops and he is led by his wife to the long dining tables. A dolce or a glass of wine then, as a consolation. For the belly.

Stef Smulders

by Stef Smulders

Stef is a Dutch expat now living the dolce vita in the Oltrepò Pavese wine region, an undiscovered Tuscany 50 km south of Milan. 

With husband Nico & dog Joia he runs a B&B Villa I Due Padroni (

Stef has just completed his first book about his experiences in Italy during the first few years (in Dutch).
An English translation will appear later in 2016. Interested? Send me a mail and have a look at my Facebook page.

5 Responses to “Ballo Liscio”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Love this note Stef. With what economy and elegance you describe the scene and we are all there with you. Thanks so much.

  2. Colleen Simpson

    A wonderful note that evokes all there is to love about village dances! We have one gentleman in Piegaro whose wife is always working at the communal food tent so he dances the night away with all the other ladies. His wife doesn’t care for it gets him out of her hair for a night!

  3. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Such a sight for sore eyes! That can be my moglie Gioia of 47 years and I. we still love to dance although I like to think of myself as a Pugliese lover.

  4. Great post! Brings back memories, too, of a long-ago family road trip to Northern Saskatchewan for a relative’s 50th wedding anniversary. Farming couples who moved like refrigerators off the dance floor whirled like autumn leaves when the band struck up the polka music. A joyful and inspiring memory…

  5. Anne Robichaud

    ah, yes, il ballo liscio / che bello!
    And such an integral part of rural life in Italy that I took lessons /so that I would stop stepping on the feet of farm neighbors, asking me to dance at local festivals.
    Love the dancing – and what wonderful exercise for all, the elderly too,- all evening fox-trotting with light steps at age 88, 90 or older!~(after a day in the fields!)
    My husband Pino did not take lessons with me but is a good sport as I dance with “gli anziani” at local sagras, other festivals.


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