Meet Le Vecchie Guardie – The Old Guard

A Sacred Meeting Spot. © 2017 Jed Smith

I love these faces. I love surreptitiously watching their interactions, and their steadfast camaraderie. The Old Guard, fondly referred to as “Le vecchie guardie” in Italy, is an integral thread, found woven everywhere in the fabric of Italian culture.

Watching The Old Guard can’t help but make you smile

At least that’s my reaction. If only I could eavesdrop on their conversations to round out the picture. Or, maybe it’s just as well (and more fun) to use my imagination, and focus on capturing the moments of interaction. One minute, they’re sharing a joke. Minutes later, they’re lamenting the state of politics. And, then there’s the rich mine of gossip. And, oh how Italians (and human beings in general) love to work over some good, juicy gossip.

The Old Guard

A Sacred Meeting Spot. © 2017 Jed Smith

Then there’s the sacred meeting spot of the old guard

Better not to mess with it. These guys have been camping out in well-worn benches and other places for a long time. Their female equivalents are often close by, in similarly staked out posts.

The Old Guard

Ever Mindful. © 2017 Jed Smith

Don’t be fooled into thinking the old guard isn’t ever mindful of the world around them.

Yes, these good ole boys are keenly aware of most everything going on around them. In the image above, I love catching this fleeting moment of appraisal. No poker face here.

the old guard

Buds for Life. © 2017 Jed Smith

You just know these bonds of friendship have deep roots

And, so I close this brief photo essay with the image above, and with this uplifting thought. Words fall short of conveying the connective tissue that binds these relationships. I’ll let this image speak for itself.

To see this and other photography, be sure to check out my online gallery.

By |2019-01-27T08:22:24+01:00June 6th, 2017|Black & White, Italian Culture|8 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Nancy June 8, 2017 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Over here, the old guard meets at Hardee’s each morning.

    • Jed June 16, 2017 at 3:12 am - Reply

      It happens in so many different places. The friendships are the constant!

  2. Linda Dini Jenkins June 7, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos Jed — you’ve really captured their character! I’m always aware of the fellows sitting by the aqueduct in Sulmona . . .

    I’ve introduced your blog to many of my travelers and at a pre-trip meeting on Sunday, one of them asked if we could arrange a coffee with you so you can share some of your photography tips. I’d said I’d ask. We’ll be in Venice from October 6 – 13. Let me know if you would like to do this. How’s the house hunting going? Linda

    • Jed June 7, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda! Thanks for sharing my blog with your travelers. And, yes, I’d very much enjoy doing a coffee and share photography tips. If it comes together, it would be helpful to know, ahead of time, what equipment/types of cameras people are using, since that can make a big difference on the suggestions I make! Look forward to seeing you. Let me know as things come together! Jed

  3. Ellen Griffith June 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    My morning begins with a smile when I receive your posting! Your pics just make me feel like I am seeing them live…thanks! BTW Aaron Byerly stopped by the other week to visit AND enjoyed all of your photos and paintings of yours that decorate my walls!

    • Jed June 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm - Reply

      I always love hearing from you, Ellen! Lucky you to see Aaron! Would love to have an Italy reunion one of these days!

  4. Joee Balestrieri June 6, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply


    • Jed June 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply


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