Why you should care

Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Roberto Anfosso
Cuneo, Italy

I’m on the run. Actually, I should say on the gallop. Riding across green rolling hills and shimmering rivers, my mustache blowing in the wind. It’s my profession. Bet you’re thinking, “What kind of a job could that be?” I’m a cowboy doctor, and I visit my patients on the back of my lovely horse. People envy me. Sometimes I almost envy myself.

Yes, I’m happy, more than happy. Running has always been my passion. As I kid, I ran marathons, but then one day, when I was 12, the doctor told me I had asthma, that I should stop. I fell into a depression, until I found someone else who could run for me: my beloved quadruped.

I live like a knight physician in the Middle Ages. Each morning, no matter the weather — rain, snow or ice — I take all my medical equipment (stethoscope, blood pressure device, bandages, thermometers, antibiotics, ear inspectors) and throw it in a sack over my horse’s back. I ride out into the countryside, picking up speed as soon as I reach the big oak tree just outside my hamlet where there’s a breathtaking view that invigorates me, like a morning espresso. Riding like the wind is a drug.

My patients are shepherds and peasants who live in remote areas where there are no connecting roads, so the fastest way to reach them is by horse. No pollution, great views, pure oxygen fills my lungs making me almost dizzy.

I know, I know … am I lucky! When I used to live in the big city, it was hell. Now I keep fit, exercising my legs while curing sick people who need my help. Talking about doing a job one loves, that’s more than satisfaction.

I’ve given up the modern comfort of a car. First, I don’t need one. Second, it’s not a comfort compared to the beauty of a living animal. Horses have always been man’s best friend. When I make my daily tour of farms, I’m like a bus stopping here and there to see how old folks are doing down in the valley, or visiting a new baby born on the other side of the mountain. Locals greet me with sunburned cheeks and warm smiles.

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Dr. Roberto Anfosso

Source Silvia Marchetti

They race to offer me their best pies and hazelnut cakes, and bottles of red wine they make themselves. I can’t refuse to taste at least a glass, otherwise they get offended.

And so I drink, and drink, and drink. Each stop is a sip of wine. Yep! Believe it or not, but drinking — as if horseback riding weren’t enough — is part of my work. And eating, of course. Just like in the Middle Ages when physicians were rewarded with goods for their healing abilities, I leave the farms of my patients with my cowboy sack filled with eggs, chickens, flasks of wine, even fresh pasta made by grannies early in the morning. They’re eager to invite me for lunch or dinner, but I can’t stay.

I need to move on with my daily visits before it gets dark.

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Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.