It’s good to be “home.” There are some things we need to get used to. Again.
Bread stores, for example. Folks walk up, point to a particular pile of bread and ask where it comes from.
And that’s it. Bread like they bake in the tiny little town of Agnino has been purchased, and for about a quarter of the money that a decent loaf will cost in California. Pane di Vinca is more popular. Most likely you’ve never heard of Vinca, but the tiny mountain village is as famous for its bread as Bigliolo is famous (all over Italy!) for beans.
Yesterday we lunched under the awning at Ristorante Rolando in Barbarasco. Well, strike that, we half-lunched under that awning. You see, just as the ravioli with porcini and spaghetti con le vongole were arriving, rain began pelting the tattered canvas stretched over our heads. It was actually quite pleasant, sitting on the terrace, alone (the economy really is that bad, evidently), hearing the rain drum the canvas and feeling the sudden and quite welcome breeze…
Then, as the waiter disappeared into the restaurant to check on our second plates, there came a sizzle suspended in the air, a crackling sizzle that came from nowhere or everywhere—then a very short and very pregnant period of silence, then an ear-splitting and quite authoritative clap of thunder I will never forget.
The waiter arrived with a start, as they say in old lit. We decided to head into the dining room. Lights flickered. A candle was brought. Soon thereafter the lights went out for good.
You need to come and witness a thunderstorm like they have frequently in Tuscany. You don’t get those in California. We’re too mellow for that.
You also won’t get to hear the waiter blame the threatening skies on a politician that often. Yes, the gods were unhappy—and it was Berlusconi’s fault, according to the waiter.
I suppose this means he will just have to sacrifice another of his virgins…