Well, I am at a real cultural event! We are staying at a villa just outside Ambra, between Siena and Arezzo. We’ve been here nearly a week, doing day trips which I have begun to write about, and will continue to report to all of you. Tonight, after our last dinner at the villa, brought to us by our local favorite couple, Anna and Pasquale and their son Patrizio, three of us decided to go into Ambra, the little village, to find an Internet cafe.
We were told about two computers sitting quietly in the back of the local bar, open until midnight. So here we sit, with most of the townspeople of all ages outside on the piazza, men crowded around the tables and the bar entrance, the women sitting on benches on the outer perimeter, and little children running around everywhere. You enter the bar (sort of a cross between a 7-11, a gelato shop and a pool hall), find your way to the second layer of rooms, and move to the corner where the computers are. This particular screen is hiding the left two inches, so I have no idea what I have typed at the beginning of each line. Mea culpa.
At any rate, the conversation behind us is deafening, as perhaps thirty old Italian men have pulled their chairs into a circle in the middle of which is a card came or dice or something. All we can hear is the roar of approval or dismay after each hand. I want to stay here forever, part of a little community like this.
My Italian classes continue to serve me fairly well. I understood at least 30-50% of all the velocemente (fast) conversations thrown at me by our cooks, as well as by the old owners of the villa. They have invited me to contact them directly next time I come to visit, rather than go through the two agencies we have to use. Andthe cooks have invited us all to their house next time we are here. Cinque minute vicino . . . five minutes near, actually.
Tomorrow we brave the trip back to Florence in our three rental cars, where a 16-passenger van is supposed to be waiting to pick us up, take us to Pisa for a couple of hours to see the Leaning Tower, Baptistry and Duomo, etc., and then whisk us on to Cinque Terre, specifically our little village of Manarola, the fourth in the line of five villages, if you are going north to south.
Iàll write more in another entry, since it looks like no matter how I format my writing, paragraphs, indentations, double space between paragraphs, everything shows up in one long stream of letters. Again, mea culpa.
Grazie e ciao.