I live just down the hill from a series of small restaurants called grotti — that’s plural for grotto. I think they started as caves or something, but now they’re just good, rustic, little local joints where families & businesspeople (pretty much everybody who knows where they are) gather for good, hearty food and drink. Mom and I went to one tonight. It’s called the Montagnola Social Club (in English). That sounds a lot fancier in Italian (Circolo Sociale di Montagnola), but it wouldn’t be much help at all to you now, would it? (You know another phrase like that that I just love but never say…? A whole fat lotta good that’ll do ya. HA!)
An aside: Montagnola, by the way, is also where Herman Hesse lived and wrote. If you’re a fan, you should come visit… there’s a nice walk and museum and they are very near my house.
Anyway, this place is always empty on Mondays in winter; I’ve been there with a small handful of professors many times. I’d never been there during summer, though. Wow! They’d strung fluorescent kitchen lights through the trees and a guy cooks on a huge outdoor grill over firewood. You share big, old, stone tables. We had local wine and sausages/cured meats and steak and veal and yum… it was great. The tiramisu was the real thing… homemade and chocolaty.
Mom got up to go to the bathroom at one point and sitting there surrounded by families and businesspeople speaking at least three different languages I thought, “Life is good.” The other photo in this collage is my neighborhood church as we drove down the hill toward home.
Mom heads back to the States in a day and a half and it is getting sad. Today we strolled along the lake with gelati (she always has straciatella, chocolate chip, and I nocciola, hazelnut) and shopped for shoes and clothes and souvenirs. It was fun.
I’m back off to London in about 8 days and I have to figure out how I want to write about that. You know what I noticed? When I was dating, dating, dating I related to it like it didn’t really matter… I was just meeting people, having coffee and meals, nice conversations, etc. Then one day Mom and I were doing laundry, I was getting ready to go to London and I had this thought, “It’s starting to matter.” Now I think in my head I think, “It matters.” and my little mind is just off to the races… no more simply being present with nice conversations and happy dinners… oh no… it’s all, “What if he turns out to be…?” and “What if I screw it up?” and “What if this isn’t the right choice?” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. (Think Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment as you say this to yourself.) Not helpful. That’s when it’s time to thank the little voice in your head and simply say, “Thank you for sharing.” I am having such a wonderful time even just talking with this man.