I am reposting one of my first blogs from my Italy trip, to promote the play I was inspired to write by my trip to that wonderful place. At Leaside Manor this week, 3,4 and 5th! Show is at 7.30 pm. Presales at Eventbrite.ca, or cash at the door. Call 754-5800 to get your name written down! Thank you for re-reading. This trip was so influential for me. xo
Everything since we began our journey to Italy is a great big wonderful trick.
We show up for our security check-through at the airport in St. John’s, resplendent in our resolve to travel with carry-on bags only. That boils down to one carry on and one personal bag each.
We are thrifty souls and have loaded up two large Zip-lock bags (two for each of us, that is) with small containers of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions, gels, perfumes, cosmetics and other secret beauty items. A security guard accosts us as we are unloading everything into the trays, which within minutes look as if we are setting up our own pharmacy. She dryly informs us that we are only permitted one miniscule zip lock bag of gels and liquids. Each.
Several phone calls and one good Samaritan later, our excess potions are in safe hands back home and we are allowed to board as long as we are on good behavior.
The red eye to London is uneventful with only two calls of “Is there a doctor on board?!” to break the monotony. One poor lady projectile vomits all over creation but thankfully she is sitting next to Amy and not to me.
After our brief layover at Gatwick with barely time for one Gin and Tonic we board our Easy Jet connection to Italy. As we ready for landing there is a stern warning of “extreme turbulence ahead” from our pilot. He commands all of us passengers and crew to immediately be seated and personally insists we all double strap ourselves in our seats due to the severe winds of 20 kilometers an hour
We try not to look incredulous and each take a nap.
There are continued dire, abject and lengthy apologies from our pilot about the 50 minute holding pattern we all have to endure due to the tumultuous (non-existent) gales, while we circle over and around wonderful Pisa and get the bird’s eye view of first the city and then the surrounding farms and vineyards in slow lazy spirals as we circle in to land. A private helicopter could do no better.
A shuttle picks us up at the foot of the plane steps and ferries us a hundred yards to the entrance to the terminal.
Newfoundland would kill these people.
The first proper Italian we meet is a handsome bus driver who speaks no English but waves us on board, will take no money and deposits us somewhere almost but not quite where we need to be.
By chance we have booked in at the NH Hotel, which overlooks the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Our balcony is two inches wide by two feet long and we are ecstatic. We resist the urge to wash out our underwear and hang them out to flap and wave at the endless procession of busses, motorcyclists and tourist.
EVERYONE is going around speaking Italian. And when they are not speaking Italian they are speaking with Italian accents.
And so I sit around trying not to speak at all so tourists will think I am Italian and mysterious. Because even when Italians say things like “ Please pass the butter” it sounds like “But you have the eyes of a butterfly’s last breath.”
Everyone is sexy as hell. The old people. The young people. The poor people. The middle aged people. Especially all the women of any age.
The drivers are all very polite! They will scream to a halt and cause a fifty car pile up of rear enders just so a little old lady with a broom can cross the street.
I have caused many pileups so far because I keep darting into the street because I can’t believe how polite they all are. When I cross the street I stop and bow at all the handsome drivers.
There is a Jacuzzi in our bathroom. Except it is not a Jacuzzi.
I keep calling it a Jacuzzi except what it is, is, it is a Bidet. And the two of us will not fit in that at the same time. But it is there and there will be no way that it goes unused in some way shape or form. Maybe for the laundry.
We find a restaurant called Ristorante Lo Schiaccianoci, located at Via Vespuccie 104 where we are surrounded by happy rowdy Italians from the neighborhood and the proprietor Giovanni eschews the menu and tells us what he thinks we should eat.
We eat our weight in pasta. We share two dishes. The first is made of a light delicate pasta with fresh clams. Those clams are so fresh they would be in a Mel Brooks routine. The pasta is el denté, simple all the way with the slightest of flavours. The other pasta dish has a very subtle cream sauce, as if the chef thought of a cream sauce and then maybe waved the thought of it over the plate. It is layered with mushrooms which still taste slightly of the Italian earth.
The entire thing is delicious to die for, and cheap. We feel bad. We are going to move in with them. We highly recommend this restaurant. It is family run and populated by local residents, not tourists.
In the night we lie awake and drink red wine with the soothing sound of the Piazza outside our miniature balcony, the rumblings of mobilletes and the busses and the rowdy boys with man buns riding bikes and scoping out little old ladies to rob.
It is 11.03 pm Pisa time.
Buono Sera, Pisa.
Soon! The Leaning Tower of Pisa.