Friday, September 21, 2007
19 September 2007
A couple weeks ago Genesis and Patrick took a trip to Venice. I got a taste of what it would be like to be all alone. I didn’t think I would have any problem with it and I didn’t, although, I will say I slept with my window closed for the first time. Now, they are days away from finishing up here at the restaurant. They will travel a little before heading back to the states. All I have to say is, if you have been dreading the added cost of living arrangements while touring the Italian countryside, I have two rooms that are lying empty for the next 6 weeks.
10 years ago I traveled to Italy for the first time – and until this trip it seemed like my last time. While visiting Venice and Turin I met Elisabetta. We became fast friends and I even thought I might have attended her wedding…but time and money – especially money did not permit that. It’s 10 years later and while I consider her a good friend, I hadn’t spoken to her much. We sent letters and traded a couple emails throughout the years - the very last time was when I first arrived in San Francisco. After arriving here in August, I sent an email letting her know I was in country. I am lucky to have use of my sister’s Italian mobile phone (THANKS GINA) because last week she called!
Elisabetta is really an amazing person. If I’m not mistaken, she speaks some 4 languages. My host 10 years ago is another Italian named Paolo. Well my real hosts where his parents Enrico and Carla. It is Carla and Elisabetta’s mother that were friends so naturally their children were friends as well. I must have made a big impression on Carla because Paolo said that for years after my visit she still spoke of me. Carla has since passed on but I think of her very fondly and miss her. Although she didn’t speak any English (just Italian and French), we seemed to communicate well with the use of an Italian-English dictionary and spent many afternoons together running errands and sightseeing. Paolo, Elisabetta and I had a great time together and I left Italy thinking we would all be lifelong friends. Paolo and I kept in touch a little more than Elisabetta and I have. It was a blow to learn that some years after my visit, Paolo and Elisabetta had broken their friendship. Prior to coming to Italy (the second time) I had tried to convince Paolo to contact Elisabetta but I don’t think he had attempted it. Luckily, Elisabetta was not at all hesitant. I gave her Paolo’s mobile number and she called him that same evening. I am happy – no ecstatic to report that they have reconciled and we are planning to get together as soon as possible. Leave it to a woman to do what a man can’t (hehe had to add that in there).
Currently I am planning to meet with Elisabetta in Nice, the French Riviera for some sun and sand (if the weather agrees). I have Saturday and Sunday off and, as I missed a chance to head out last week due to illness, I am hoping to make the most of this “leave” time. Because Patrick and Genesis are leaving, I think next week I will not be afforded my day and half off…maybe just one day while we figure out the work load with less two bodies in the kitchen. September is supposed to be a busy time for the restaurant. Already this weekend we are closing the restaurant to other guests because we have wedding parties. I keep questioning the weather because it is a lot cooler than it should be. Today after lunch service the temperature dropped and it was (excuse my “French”) butt-f*ck cold. And while I will be here to watch the leave change and drop, I should expect rain rather than snow. If anyone’s adept at checking for a weather almanac of Chianti, I’ll be pleased to find out what the weather pattern has been the past years.
This post is an accumulation of posts that I meant to type. Paolo, the restaurant owner, who, when I first arrived, had been on holiday, has since returned and getting time on the computer is hard to come by. I have been gifted with the use of John’s laptop which he sent via the post. Of course the idea was that I would use it to blog but prior to that, I had to get my fill of Spider Solitaire, watching the movies he loaded on the laptop as well as the DVDs I brought and Free-Cell before I could really use it for what it was intended. Unfortunately for the past couple days, the internet in the kitchen office is down and I have not been able to check email – I feel so cut off!
In addition to mailing me the laptop, John has en route a box of goodies which include candy bars, and an order of Jelly Belly flavours at my request. As it turns out, Italian candies suck. The guys here are crazy about Jelly Bellies. I’m thinking a distributorship for Jelly Bellies might be profitable in Italy.
I know the lot of you is thinking I don’t have much to complain about being in Italy but you must understand how remote it is where I am. I live above the restaurant. My day is as follows.
Get up and shower and be in at 9:15
Prep from 9:15 to 11:30
Family meal from 11:30 to 12:00
Lunch service from 12:15 to 3:30 (sometimes 4:00)
Downtime from 3:30 to 6:15
Dinner prep and cooking of family meal 6:15 to 6:30
Family meal from 6:30 to 7:00
Dinner service from 7:15 to 10:30
The downtime is spent writing, online (if possible), napping, laundry, and/or watching movies. I have spent one afternoon laying out in a grassy field trying to get a tan. Patrick and Genesis have spent it walking/hiking or running – I’m not that ambitious.
The town of Montevarchi is 14 miles away. There is only one bus that goes in that direction in the morning at 7:39 am and one bus that comes back at 1:39 pm. So you can see that going to town during down time is not possible without asking someone to give me a lift. The guys use their downtime to play soccer on Play station or nap. I am reluctant to ask them to take me to town. I did ask Francesco when I got a hankering for mint gelato but he turned me down – actually there was a lot of bribing with future Jelly Bellies and a Rubik’s Cube ®. I have to respect that they want to rest too. Days off mean the opportunity to do some traveling. I have since been to Montevarchi numerous times to shop at the Ipercoop, purchase TIM cards for the mobile phone & go to the craft shop for embroidery floss. I have traveled to Florence and met up with Gina’s in-laws. Corrado took me to Montalcino one evening for dinner and sightseeing. I had hoped to go to Rome but was unable to due to illness. So you can see that the 1.5 days I get off is an event in and of itself. There is no corner store I can walk to, to pick up snacks – unless you count l’osteria where I can purchase vino ½ a mile down the road. I have discovered that the wait staff will give me Cokes ® from the bar if I ask nicely. I can get a sugar fix with the desserts we serve but after a while it gets old. I’m not at the point where I am drinking nightly, but I can understand how it can happen ☺.
I’m not unhappy but there are a few things that can make the time pass easier…hint hint…naw, actually they’ll just add to the weight of the bags when I leave.