If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

03 July 2005

A family affair

Dinner tonight again at Al Cacciatore. Perhaps I'm falling into a rut, but it's so much easier to go somewhere where I'm already known, tolerated for speaking badly, and -- if I may be so bold -- liked. Welcomed. Like I'm already a local.

I walked in tonight ... parked my car on the road, and walked into the courtyard, and before I even got through the 'gate' -- Paolo, who was sitting at a table with some other guests -- called to me. 'Ciao, Kael-eee'! (even though it's been a week since I've been in.) I'm a sucker for a 'cheers' experience.

I sat outside, at Paolo's urging. I apologize for being late -- it's nearly 10 pm (just after sunset) when I arrive. It's a point of pride for me that when I am alone, he no longer really asks what I want to eat, just brings me whatever is good that day. And always, a bottle of wine and a bottle of water - without asking. Tonight, it is fried squash blossoms, which are TO DIE FOR, and steak. And tiramisu, which I never in a million years would have ordered - not having much of a sweet tooth at all, but that I try to eat when he brings it to be polite. He sweetly 'plays' with me all night -- checking what I'm reading (an elementary Italian book - he's already told me I'm not allowed to read anything except Italian there.) Throughout the night, he introduces me to the entire family -- it's summer, so all the nipoti - nieces & nephews - are about: Simone, the cheeky little 14 year old with the cresta (mohawk), and Stefano, the 17 year old, who says he is obviously the sweet one because he is being eaten alive by the mosquitos, and remembers me because he waited on me last week. Plus Gaia - whose name translates to Joy, and two others whose names I don't remember, and of course, Giulia, Paolo's daughter (15), who he wants to have visit America. They are all fascinated that I lived near the Casa Bianca (White House.) Simone is darling - though a bit of a studente seccatore, we would call it a 'brown nose' -- he speaks English better than the rest and is always quick to try to help me translate when I am missing a word. I say that when Giulia she graduates from Scuola Superiore (high school), she can come to visit the US.

It's a Saturday night out, and the tourists are here in droves. I love the people watching. The women in the strange overly-'done' outfits (really. It looks like a Milan runway.) for a night in a country restaurant. The families. The group of men who had too much to drink and start singing. Roberto - the regular - who recognizes me and comes over to say hello. The old couple who live in Arezzo - she with cancer (telltale head scarf), he dapper in glasses and an painters' style overshirt -- he comes over to ask politely who I am and why I am living here; as this is his third time seeing me. He welcomes me: tanti auguri. Yes -- it's the classic family business - they live upstairs, and close when the last guests leave.

Tonight, just after midnight, I am the last guest, and I say my goodbyes warmly after paying Paolo ... no matter what I eat, he always says my bill is 15 Euro. I always give him 20 (tips aren't normal here, but my bill - always - should rightly be more than that - tonight: a bottle of wine, bottle of water, bruschetta, a ridiculously large steak, fried squash blossoms, coffee, and tiramisu...) But it's always 15 Euro. It's nice to be a local.


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