One of the best parts about being in Italy was being away from it all. Away from the anxiety-ridden conversations that take place in my head, but rarely come to fruition. The ones I secretly have with my husband’s kids, his parents, his siblings, my parents, and my brothers. Being away from the place that hosts everyone, gives me a break from the imagined discomfort I enact with them in my anxious mind.
While in Italy my mind was focused on two things: how can I see it all in 10 days and do I know enough Italian to get me through this trip? The answer came quickly- you can’t see it all in 10 days and be sure to learn as much Italian as you can. “Il bambino beve” doesn’t get you what you want on a menu. Thanks, Rosetta stone.
My mind was totally occupied with things like: Did I offend anyone by not eating the whole pizza myself? Why couldn’t I take the leftovers? Pizza for one in Italy is like a medium pizza you share in America, and you eat the whole thing with knife and fork… alone. I saw thin, gorgeous women eating whole pizzas and throwing it back with Birra Moretti Rosso (the best beer I’ve ever tasted and I am not a beer drinker, I’m a wine-o) like it was no problem. How the hell are they keeping their Sophia Loren-like shape?
I also thought things like: What are those pinkish-orange, fizzy cocktails everyone is drinking in the afternoon? Why isn’t everyone at work? Those pinkish-orange, fizzy mixes were like heaven to my lips. I stopped wondering why people weren’t at work because I suddenly understood. This little concoction everyone seemed to be drinking, the Aperol Spritz, is comprised of the following ingredients: 1-1/4 oz. of Aperol, 2 oz. of Prosecco and about 1 oz. of soda water.
One of my fondest memories was sitting at this little place, tucked away in an alley, called Il Grillo. The manager was a sweet, handsome guy. Upon our arrival to an outside table in the alley, where Fiats and Vespas zoomed by each other, we looked at the menu posted on the window in obvious confusion.
“Aperol Spritz?” He asked, nodding and smiling.
“Yes!” I smiled back, nodding enthusiastically.
In this moment, I had no idea what I was saying yes to, but he seemed more than happy to bring them and he kept ‘em coming, along with what I can only assume were spicy pork rinds. I said yes to lots of things while in Italy and some things I had agreed to, I still can’t be sure. I know I ate meat and had my very own Ratatouille experience (no lie, I cried in Rome over lasagna).
It wasn’t just the drink but the fun we had at Il Grillo. Since it was tucked away in a cobblestone alley, Fiats and Vespas zooming by, we happened to be a little tipsy when the coolest thing happened.
There we were, still buzzing from the five Italian espressos we had at breakfast and further buzzed from the Spritzes and pork rinds, when along comes this little car trying to get into a tiny parking spot. The apartment entrance, guarded by these amazing, huge green doors, was directly across from where we were sitting. And that was maybe five feet away.
Along with others drinking Spritzes that day, we watched closely as this car went forward, then back, forward, then back. Turning and swerving to get in the lot without hitting my husband, who was sitting with drink in hand, watching intently as he did a bit of drunk swerving of his own. This little car, continued to move into the space, avoiding the corner of the apartment’s entrance, and a bench outside of the barber shop/salon diagonally across from where we sat. Once the car made it in, everyone in the alley cheered.
I love these little moments, these strange scenarios, that whisk me away from my mind, and the things that go on there while I am in N.H. In Italy, thinking about how I’m going to fare when ordering my next meal, whether or not my actions are culturally appropriate, and thinking about the enigma that is Pompeii Porn- beats wondering how I am going to give my mom the Italian fabric I bought for her. Because her religion prohibits us from speaking, I’ll have to get crafty with that quandary.
I’ll take struggling with my Italian and dodging Fiats in alleys over that any day.