I am republishing one of my first blogs from Italy, in honour of the opening of my Italy inspired one woman play, “Woman, Naked.” So many of the folks I met in Italy turn up in some shape or form in my play. We are at the Leaside Manor opening from Thursday-Saturday, showtime at 7.30 pm. Presales at Eventbrite.ca, or cash at the door. To make sure you can reserve call 754-5800.
A fog horn in Italy?
What fresh wonder is this?
Anything is possible here!
A refreshing rain fell through the night but considerately tapered off so we can begin our day!
In Italian that means: You’re Welcome!
Back in the day in Marystown it meant: Preggers!
But I am in Italy and I am infusing all of my language here with as many Italian words as I can learn, as long as they are simple. It matters not if they are precisely sensible or meaningful in the context of my sentence. What matters to me is that they sound good.
Hey you! Il cucchiaio! ( That means: Hey you! Spoon!)
What a lovely day! La prima colazione! (That means: What a lovely day! Breakfast!)
But here is my invitation: Follow me. Segue!
And I will take you to the Torre Pendente.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The best way to walk the streets of Pisa is to dance. Dance as if everyone is watching and no one cares. Which no one does. Although they will dance along in an Italian non-caring way.
We changed hotels since last I wrote. We liked the NH Hotel just fine. It was refined and aloof in that smoldering Italian way. The staff was seductive and friendly, with just a sprinkle of murderous charm. They have an espresso machine in the lobby just so they can scream at those of us who don’t know how to use it properly. And then they weep when we check out.
But alas! They had no room for us at the inn for a second night.
And so it was we were recommended to the Hotel la Pace. It is located at Viale Gramsci. Which frankly is located in the middle of an alley with a bunch of sketchy dudes lounging around outside. Granted, they are sketchy Italian dudes, but the really great thing is that once you walk in the door you have walked back in time and are immediately in a Doctor Who episode. The phone booth is in the lobby.
This recommendation may or may not have been a kind favour. A British lady we just met here in the bar has been complaining bitterly about the somewhat retro (dusty) and antiquated furnishings. But we love it! The woman at the front desk who greeted us is named Regina. She is our new Italian best friend. The bartender is tenderly feeding his little daughter sandwiches as she does her homework in the corner. They have a display in the lobby of all the different kinds of little bottles of hotel shampoos there are IN THE WORLD!
And, if you read my first installment, you know we were brutally deprived of our little hotel shampoos when trying to get through security in St. John’s. I am piling them up as rapidly as I can with the intention to devise a devious means to smuggle them back into Canada.
And thus far we have been given a free breakfast at each hotel! Grazzia!
The bartender’s name is Lorenzo. He is from the Philipines. And he learned to speak Italian from the ground up. He is teaching me a whole slew of new Italian words.
Such as, in Italy the first hotel floor is number “zero.” So, in Italian, that is “zero.”
Hotels in Italy are difficult to locate in that they are shy and elusive. You cannot find them by looking directly for them. You must saunter along deliberately NOT looking and you will soon catch one out of the corner of your eye.
But, to my beloved Torre Pendente.
In my play “Brazil Square”, the main character of Mrs. Kent, played to perfection in St. John’s by Petrina Bromley, dreams of a picnic on the grass in front of the Tower. She dreams, because I do. Did.
I tried to catch a glimpse of her everywhere I went. I looked for her from the air. From the 2 inch by 2 feet balcony our first hotel.
The Leaning Lady hid from me.
I have thought and dreamed and written about her for years. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, in Pisa, which is located in Pisa, Italy.
Your first glimpse of her is endearingly modest. A shy little world famous landmark coyly tilting at the end of an unlikely street.
Be still my heart. And my heart was.
She is tinier than one would think.
We walked toward her in silence, a pilgrimage of admirers from around the world, in saris, kimonos, all ethnicities, religions, persuasions. and all.
The closer we come the more she raises in elegance, reminding me of the iconic bag lady of St. John’s, sometimes known as Marilyn, sometimes as Trixie. Oh lady. You had me at “l’aperitivo.” (That means ‘cocktail’)
We bought our ticket to enter inside, got in the line up, were turned way in the line up because we were not permitted to bring our purses inside, went back to the ticket office to check our bags, went back and got in line again..
Our guide was named Valeria. Or maybe his name was Delirium because he was so very handsome and he began our welcome speech in Italian, which all the Italians speak. This he followed by speaking in English with heavily flavoured Italian accent. I was reeling.
We were all reeling, because the Leaning Tower of Pisa is on a tilt and doing the walk up and down the 251 steps and then navigating around and around the exterior is almost exactly but not quite like trying to walk to the bar whilst on the marine Atlantic ferry in a gale of wind. It is like being drunk, drunk on Italy herself, which requires no alcohol.
The Tower was begun in 1173 by an architect who remains anonymous because, to quote Valeria, “Once it began to tilt it was deemed to be a big flop.” Over the next three centuries various and sundry continued to build on the tower, all the while trying to correct but only exacerbating the tilt.
Which led me to immediately think of Muskrat Falls.
If we closed it down now we could have a world famous landmark that people would flock to see from all around the world because just like the leaning tower of Pisa, it is all about the folly.
But no one listens to me.
We leave the Campo dei Miracoli (field of miracles ) in search of sustenance. We find the Percorso degli Artigiani. The Path of the Craftsmen is filled with restaurants, shops, kiosks, huxters and hustlers of all sorts. Everyone doing the best they can to make a living.
I have posted a picture of the fabulous chef who made our delicious seafood pasta and ravioli freshci!
And there is also a photo of the approximate amount of wine it is appropriate to have with each meal. In case you ever need to gauge such matters for yourself. A benchmark to aim for.
Mrs. Kent is in Italy and en route to Cow Head for the Gros Morn Theatre Festival to see Our Fanny and Brazil Square this summer.
But next from my Un Giornale! Italia! (That actually means: From my newspaper, Italia!)
And my yoga retreat getting underway later today in Il Borghino, Tuscanny.
I wonder if the yoga mats come with a built in wine holder?
Arreviderci! For now!