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Monday, November 1, 2010

Italian Experience

I left early this morning to take a long walk outside the city center.  I didn't eat breakfast because I thought I would enjoy stopping at a bar, as caffes are called here, and have 'un cappucino e un cornetto a tavolo.'  I've learned that if you want to sit at the tavolo, you must say that right away. It costs extra.  Most locals just stand at the counter, throw down the espresso and pastry and are on their way.  There's no sitting around in the morning.  Where is that easy-going lifestyle I heard so much about?

Anyway, the long walk and stop for breakfast would have been a great plan if it were any other day but Monday.  Italians don't work on Monday mornings.  I knew that!  Mostly I forgot it was Monday.  Not only do they not work on Monday mornings but  November 1st is a holiday.  It's Okay! I tell myself.   I can make it til I get back to Firenze without eating.  And I did but about three miles into the walk rain pelts down without warning.  No I didn't bring an umbrella nor wear my rain jacket because the sky looked like it was clearing when I left.  So now I'm not only hungry but cold and wet.  No place open to find shelter.  I stood for awhile in a bus shelter but it became evident there was nothing to do but trudge back through the rain and the puddles.  My hair slick, my jeans stretching and scraping against the ground as I walk.  I feel like a drowned rat.

After drying off and warming up next to the space heater at the apartment, I decide that I've earned a hot lunch at Da Garibaldi's.  So off I go into the rain again with an umbrella this time.  I am seated at a table for two in a room with six couples at a long table. My first thought was, 'Really?'  It didn't take long though to realize being in the room with them was a real Italian treat.  I was thoroughly entertained.  Hands flew in every direction and people popped up and down out of their seats, yet not a drop of wine was spilled.  Voices escalated at the same time to be heard.  Arguments, finger pointing, laughter and frowns.  Men talking as much as women.

You know how we often don't like to sit at a long narrow table because you can only talk to the people next to you.  That's just not true.  There was never a moment that anyone at this table was not a part of what was going on.  And there was no one telling anyone to 'lower their voice.'  By tiramisu and espresso time they realized they were entertaining me.

I asked, 'famiglia italiana?'  'No.  No.  Amici.'  they said.  I told them in English that I couldn't understand what they were saying but I am thoroughly enjoying the real Italian experience.  One person  translated for the rest.  They liked it.  I was gauche enough to ask if I could take their picture.  Obviously, they didn't mind.  Of course, I didn't get them to sign a waiver for publication.

We arriverderci'd and shook hands a lot when they left.... and best of all...

There was no extra charge for the entertainment!  

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