If not now, when?

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

07 July 2005

The first Thursday night date and She Who Shall Be Obeyed

And I thought *I* was a control freak!?! Sparky & Tortola Artista were in town – a trip for T.A.’s birthday -- by completely random coincidence staying about 20 minutes from me in a beautiful place called Fattoria Montelucci, a small hotel of about 30 rooms with meeting space and 500 acres of production and hiking trails, which is owned by an old friend of theirs and her boyfriend.

VERY long story short; SHSBO is an elegant woman 'of uncertain age' who is a power player in the Milan fashion world. She is a very compelling presence. Sparky had sent me a sort of cryptic email prior to arriving that although they were here on vacation, every moment was being managed by SHSBO … so our initial plan (that I would pick them up at the hotel and take them out for dinner) was NOT going to work.

Late though I was, and filthy from a day of touring, I “slapped on some lipstick” and twisted my hair up, threw on a black sweater, and was good to go. Arriving with a bottle of wine for each of them, at least somewhat appropriate and apologetic!

Hysterically funny is the only way to describe the evening. Like many inside jokes, most of it will only be relevant to those of us who were there… but SHSBO is truly a character, and I would be remiss in not sharing with you:

She was nowhere to be found upon my arrival, the three of us sat and ‘champagned’ (who knew it could be a verb?!?) and got caught up in the garden. If I’ve ever met anyone who was ‘all about her,’ she is definitely it. After she arrived and we did the introductions (she giving me MORE than the once-over… and testing my language skills – as if I were a new toy to play with … ), she waved us off to take a tour of the property. About an hour later (touring the hiking trails, pens for the animals, ancient stone church, and olive groves), we returned and she was – again – nowhere to be found. Multiple calls to her apartment produced nothing. In the absence of other direction, we were content to champagne, enjoy the sunset, and explore on our own.

About 2 hours later, she reappeared, looking a bit (ahem) disheveled and bed-headed, flailing her cigarette about and repeatedly saying, ‘oh, I’m so sorry’… (had apparently taken a nap and then woken later than expected…) I SWEAR, if I had a video of the moment, I would embed it here. Hysterical.

We brushed it off (like there was another option?!?! We're her guests!), saying that it was all fine, and we did a quick tour of the space (and oohed and aaahed over the portfolio of fashion shoots and PR that she had for the hotel), and we went into dinner. Of course it was the best table in the house, and of course everything had been pre-ordered.

The meal was to die for. The best I’ve had since I’ve been here, which is saying a LOT. The bistecca Fiorentina was absolutely mouth-meltingly delicious, we drank the house wine, a perfect companion. We were treated like royalty. More hysterically funny was the way she ordered everyone around – clearly the ‘lady of the house’ - and was such a presence in the dining room as she told stories (not realizing that the other tables (including a travel agent being entertained at the next table by her staff - were hanging obviously on her every word, including the copious and passionate use of the Italian equivalent of the ‘f-bomb,’ vafanculo!) The three of us felt like we were in a movie. Or a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. She ordered dessert and vin santo for everyone then suggested that we go up to her apartment for a nightcap.

4 glasses of champagne, 2 glasses of wine, 1 glass of vin santo later, it’s close to 11 pm. I haven’t yet mentioned that I have a 6:24 am train the next morning to get down to Rome for my flight, and I haven’t packed a THING.

But … I have learned quickly that there is no way other than SHSBO’s, so we cheerfully head upstairs, the chef and staff obviously relieved to see her go.

After a quick nightcap, I say my goodbyes and promise that we will get in touch this fall once I am back more consistently in Italy (which I will do – not only is it good to know neighbors, but she actually is fascinating, and I give her a lot of credit – though I have created a bit of a caricature here, she is exactly what she appears to be, and you can take her or leave her. I admire someone who is that honest about themselves. She was also very sweet to me – after I passed her ‘tests’ – including letting her call all the shots -- which, again, is a part of the mystique!)


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