Tired old tales for Thursdays – originally posted on 07/05/2010
status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
Tonight, I had the first of what I hope will be many ‘aperitivi’ in my new village.
Being a girl often on her lonesome own-some, going out and about in the evening has never been the easiest of things in any of the Mediterranean countries I have lived in. Although a solitary visit to a restaurant terrace in the touristy coastal towns would be perfectly acceptable, venturing into any of the village bars or eateries on my tod would get me the sort of attention that I could well do without.
Thus far, my only night-time excursion had been to the local pizza restaurant safe in the company of some French friends who had trekked over the border for the simple pleasure of my company.
It was an interesting experience that got off to a cracking start with ‘Les Français’ being two hours late due to work issues.
I was then moaned at because my directions hadn’t been accurate enough.
Then there were the snide asides about what a monied area I must live in because of all the large villas they had passed (either the pitch darkness or a little too much pre-dinner vin had obviously been at work, for I travel that road at least twice a day and have yet to find myself nez à nez with a millionaire).
I was then treated to a bout of Gallic snootiness because there was no wine list (one just orders a caraffa of rosso, bianco or rosato – which are usually pretty faultless as well as costing less than a round of soft drinks).
To top it off, most of the group persisted in speaking to the bemused waiter all night in French.
I have often noticed that Italians who trot over the border to France, even if it’s just to visit the supermarket for a bit of variety, manage to communicate perfectly well in French. The French journeying in the opposite direction, however, can barely even seem to manage a ‘grazie’, when ironically a large percentage in the south-east of France carry Italian surnames due to the historical overlap between the two countries.
Anyway, although a laugh and a reminisce were had, and some indecently delicious pizza was guzzled, by the end of the evening I was reassured that the path I have chosen is the right one for me. Viva Italia!
(that said, I still get a real thrill from revisiting my old French haunts every few weeks and feeling just as home there as I am starting to feel in my new host country – I acknowledge that I am an extremely fortunate girl who has no reasons for complaint!)
So this afternoon, my colleague/friend and I decided to push the boat out and have a couple of drinks while we were waiting for her daughter to get back from a school trip.
We chose a bar with a terrace alongside the main thoroughfare, and settled back to enjoy our wine and nibbles. Italy is delightfully like Spain in that respect; with each drink, an array of goodies is spread out for you to feast on. For a measly five euros we had two drinks each, 1 bowl of crisps, 1 bowl of tacos, 1 bowl of peanuts, 1 plate of pizza chunks and 2 plates of cheese and ham piadina sections. (Piadine are hot or cold sandwiches made with a special unleavened bread from the Emilia Romagna region). And that was supper taken care of, although if we had had the inclination to continue boozing, the offerings would have become more and more expansive.
Whilst we were scoffing and chatting, a small lorry pulled up in front of us so that the driver could chat to a friend. After a few seconds everyone in the vicinity was made very aware of its cargo, as the smell of manure wafted fragrantly over the tables to mingle with the aroma of the delicacies on our plates.
And on he chatted, and on and on, whilst all around him people heaved, and gagged, and reeled. Eventually a similarly sized lorry, this time with a more acceptable cargo of strawberries, drew up alongside and pointed out that he was causing a Mexican wave of retching up and down the high street. With much guffawing and not a word of apology for the olfactory rape he had just subjected us all to, he drove off.
(and only my revolting Pooch was sad to see him go)
This is Status Viatoris, still chuckling to herself – “Only in Italy!”.