Monday, May 17 – A grey day, but at least it isn’t raining. Our destination today is San Gimignano because even if it rains, there are enough churches, shops and museums to protect our wet heads. We’ll wait for more sunshine before we venture to the Tuscan coast.
I am on a mission as well, finding an internet cafe so I can sent a message to Neil and my good friend Carole, a tribute to Marcia I wrote in lieu of my presence at her memorial service later today. I am still stunned by the reality of her death, and probably won’t really deal with it completely for a long time to come. But I must get this eulogy to someone who can read it in my absence.
While the traveling women wander here and there, through the many ceramics shops, jewelry shops and stores displaying beautiful stacks of olive wood cutting boards, I hunt for the internet cafe. I have brought my own computer today, making my backpack twice as heavy as it might be, but by the time I find the Bar Boboli, I see that it was to no avail. They do have computers but not wireless, so I type my entire piece of writing into their computer, sending it through the g-mail airwaves. With all the funky keyboard changes on European computers, it takes me twice as long, but I’m happy to have sent it so I can relax.
My favorite store in San Gimignano belongs to the potter Franco Balducci and it is tucked away behind the right side of the Duomo down a smaller cobblestone street. Franco is at the front of the tiny space, making bowls and cups and other vessels as his customers browse among his finished products. I have bought many of his wares in the past and this trip I’m not collecting. I’m thinking about my home and the packing that awaits me, and I know the last thing I need is MORE of anything. Less and less will do nicely. But it’s comforting to visit this artisan every two years, in the same space, with new versions of the same quality items. And I still pine for one or two of his larger vessels, the ones you couldn’t possibly hope to ship home in one piece without a lot more trouble than I’d like to take at the moment.
The day turns out to be quite nice, with cloud cover in part, but no rain. No umbrella time for a change, and we wander up and down the streets until 5:30, when we begin to make the long haul down the “hill” to the parking lot, trying to find our car. Somehow the shuttle bus to the parking lots has inconveniently disappeared or stopped running for the day, and the walk is good for us.
We return to the little town just before our villa, Torrinieri, and stop at a local restaurant, La Compania, for spaghetti al ragu, Caprese salad (tomatoes and mozarella), a glass of the local red wine, and for me, a dessert of Grand Marnier. Stefano, our waiter and probably the owner of this establishment, seems delighted by my meager attempts to speak Italian to him, and is kind and attentive to our table. He is a bear of a man, whose front teeth stick nearly straight out of his mouth, with a wide gap in between. He would have benefited from some attentive BRACES during his youth, but his hospitality is unaffected by this lack.
Home again, home again, to think about Marcia’s service coming up in Fort Collins, starting at midnight, Italy time. A bit of writing and reading in bed before sleep.
More in Part Three