I’m getting so excited for our trip to the lake… Only one more week before we spend eight glorious days by Lake Como in Northern Italy.
I’ve seriously lost count of the number of times I’ve visited and stayed in San Giovanni di Bellagio.
As you know it’s been my go-to place for quite some time now, in fact when I was writing my first book back in 2014 I spent almost a month there re-writing and editing it.
Although that particular visit was during the summer when Zach and Sami were away at camp for a month, and so a perfect time to go and spend time with myself and getting serious with my manuscript.
I had a delightful routine during that particular visit, as I’d wake early around 6:00 am, make a pot of coffee and sit out on the stone deck and write until the sun came up above the line of houses on the other side of the village square which was around 10:30 am. Much too hot to work!
After that, it was a quick shower while I decided what I’d like for dinner that night. Every evening meal I would cook something Italian…as you would when you’re immersed into village life.
Then I’d draw up a list of ingredients, then practice ordering each of the items in Italian before heading to the local market which was situated about a kilometer away along a series of narrow roads (yes, read…one lane) with no sidewalks.
This portion of my morning was not for the faint of heart as the motorcycles, cars, trucks and buses would all zoom by, literally within centimeters of me as I walked.
My favourite part was wandering through the small neighbourhood market choosing my ingredients and practicing my Italian.
The produce was always super fresh and delicious! As an aside, Europe has much stricter rules on GMOs and so the food actually has a smell and taste to it, unlike much of what we buy in our local supermarkets here in North America. Just sayin…
I suppose the beauty and ease of being in Italy is that literally everyone under the age of 50 speaks english in addition to Italian, French plus another language or two. I have definite envy in that respect…
It was perfect, because if I was saying a term incorrectly or using the wrong tense in Italian, they would break into English and correct me then revert back to Italian as I awkwardly stumbled on. Way too kind!
As my ex-wife used to say, I speak Australian with a smattering of english. Indeed, I am bereft of language skills other than my 50 words of poor Italian… 🙂
I think on my next trip to Italy it’s going to be language school for me. I seriously need three months of immersion to make a half decent go of the language – now that will be fun!
Anyway, back to the story at hand…
I’d only buy enough ingredients for the day, as do most Europeans by the way – they like their produce fresh everyday…how very civilized! 🙂
This local neighbourhood market was a relatively small, and often if you arrived at the store early enough you’d see all of the local fresh produce still stacked outside the door from the local farmers.
It was a real family affair, with the daughter running the fruit and vegetable section, the son managing the breads and meats and Nonna operating the cash.
I remember one day walking by the very small wine section in the store after collecting my daily rations and noticed a few bottles of wine on a shelf. I stopped to see what they had, and low and behold there was a bottle of Brunello sitting on the shelf unattended, to which I quickly snatched it up to check the price.
A measly 19 Euros for this premium bottle of delicious red – what a bargain!!!
At the cash as I begin placing down my items Nonna spied my bottle of red under my arm, as quick as a flash grabs it and eyes it suspiciously. “No”, she says in her thick Italian accent. “Troppo costoso” (too expensive) to which I reply “no, non va bene”. She pulls it close and gestures with hand for me to go back and get a cheaper bottle.
At this point she’s holding up four fingers and says “4 Euro ora vai” (four euros now go), shaking head in disgust, I think it was the tsk, tsking that finally got to me. 🙂
Yes, I’d just been told off for buying a much too expensive bottle of wine…
Unfortunately by this time, I’d used up all of my Italian but was now desperate to prove that I wanted the was still firmly in her grasp.
At this point the entire situation became one big comical opera with me asking for the wine in her hand as nicely as possible, but her continuing to resist my attempts to get it and pay for it.
She finally relented, but was clearly disgusted at this “pazzo inglese” (crazy englishman) who wanted to buy such expensive wine, especially while there was perfectly good bottle of wine for 4 euros per bottle just a few meters away. What was I thinking?!
As you can imagine the wine was incredible! Over the course of the month they had to replenish their wine selection a couple more times is all I’m saying. And, yes, I had to drink the 4 euro bottles as well. Actually they were delicious!
After this entertaining little episode whenever I would see Nonna at the cash, she would always “tsk, tsk” and shake her head.
Perhaps I was just the “pazzo inglese” after all…
So until next week, when I begin packing my carry on.
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