Sarzana and the Aphid 

Coffee, walking sticks, and symbiotic relationships

sarzana capuccinoI like showing people around. It’s all about that symbiotic relationship. You know, like the cute little ladybug who hangs around the rose plant being buddies, eating the occasional aphid so the beautiful rose can blossom and flourish. I take people around, they notice things I don’t, or engage people in ways I wouldn’t think of. We both benefit. Well, mostly I benefit. It’s not that hard to take people around. The things I find to write about are priceless.

So, anyway, we waited for Susan and Louisa at the Bar Costituzionale in piazza Matteotti, the big one in Sarzana. We go there a lot, for coffee, or for Lorenzo’s gelato. Lorenzo, they tell me is Sicilian. So the gelato is predestined to be good. This time I had a cafe macchiato. It was good, too.

Then Susan and Louisa arrived. Susan had a cappuccino. It was nicely finished with a rather swell design on top. We took pictures.

Then, upon returning from one of those feminine reconnaissance missions that included a bathroom stop, Susan came over and said, “did you see the poster of all the designs the guy at the bar can put on top of a cappuccino?”

In all my visits I had never noticed it. It was in Lorenzo’s gelato room, high on the wall. Here:

sarzana capuccini

So, we asked about them. The designs are doled out seasonally. Obviously it wasn’t time for the sun design—we hadn’t seen the glowing orb in weeks. If you are here full time, you can collect them all. Even the sun.

sarzana walking sticksThen we set out to look for antique shops. Susan leads tours of them sometimes. There’s a whole street of antiquarian shops, most of them out of business.

We found enough shops that Susan seemed relatively happy. In one, Susan talked to the owner. He took us into what appeared to be a whole other shop. There, hidden from the kind of riff-raff that peers in through windows but never buys anything was the most interesting collections of walking sticks ever.

There were walking sticks whose handles could be removed to reveal a corkscrew or other interesting tools for the soon-to-be-inebriated, there were some with handles carved from ivory in such a way that a voluptuous woman’s breasts indented the flesh of your hand as you clopped along with it, a far-off gaze of happiness plastered to your happy face (presumably). The last was the best, the one that you peered into a tiny hole at the base of the handle and if you aligned the hole to your eye just right a picture of a naked babe appeared. Really. Not a modern babe but a historic babe—naked, hairy, and a bit chunky.

walking stickYou see what I do? I show them doorways to shops they might fancy, they lead me to treasures I can write about. What a life. When I think about it, I do not fit the properties of the fine, cute and perky ladybug nobly chowing down on the ugly, swollen abdomen of the aphid so the beautiful rose can benefit. No, I am the aphid. Food for the Ladybug so that she can live to protect the rose.

We all have a purpose. You don’t have to be cute and perky. You just have to hang around roses and look like food.

More Stories That Might Lead You Astray

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Florence: Art in Odd Places

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Sarzana and the Aphid originally appeared on , updated: Apr 19, 2022 © .

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