Englishman In Italy

Sunday morning always feels good to me it’s a time to reflect a little on how the proceeding week as gone. This Sunday was no different really, sure I was in a foreign country but this was the third Sunday that I had awoke to the block of light that penetrated through the wooden shutters.

It was 9:30 and I had an appointment in one hour. As I propped myself up with the aid of my solitary pillow (I really ought to get hold of another) my mind recalled the events of the previous evening. I think I crawled into bed at around 2:30. The evening was entertaining. Jason (the American) and myself had ridden the bikes up to the local Blockbusters and had become members of this video emporium. We spent most of the time there studying the female of the species and very little time in choosing a video for the evenings entertainment. Blockbusters have a reasonable supply of native tongue videos and we left the place with the Scorsese classic “Casino”. I had seen this epic four times before but I knew it was right up the Yanks Street and I told him I wouldn’t mind watching it for a fifth. As we left Blockbusters we both felt hungry so we headed for the Pendola (pendulum).

Now this place makes the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life, they are around fifteen inches in diameter, wafer thin in the middle so they roll up like a charm and they are exceedingly juicy. We both left the place feeling well fed and watered after having the house speciality and a large glass of beer not to mention some good conversation about the male gene and how man in a relationship has a constant battle with his instinct, something that all males have surely.

It took us about 10 minutes to cycle home at a casual speed, we bantered all the way.

“Casino” was as good as it ever was. Robert di Niro and Jo Pesci make such an unbeatable combination and with Sharon Stone added to the melting pot I was in a seventh heaven. Jason loved the film too; particularly the way the whole filmed had a narration running through it very similar to “Goodfellows” although Jason hadn’t seen this. We polished off a bottle of white wine that was half-empty when found, and we could have managed another, as the film being three hours long makes you thirsty. I made it into bed after biding Jason a good sleep, locking the vaulted door and watching some crap soft porn that is ever present on Italian television.

Ten minutes had passed since sitting up against this foam pillow. I pulled the sheets back and made a positive move towards getting ready for the door buzzer that was expected in 50 minutes. First job for me after getting out of bed is to whack the kettle on and down a glass of orange juice to wash away the felt left on the throat from the deep slumber. The shower was on and left for about three minutes to warm, it’s a great shower but as it’s gas driven it takes a wee while to get up to temp, still could be worse, could be steam driven.

The buzzer went at 10:40. I laid the guitar down, put the keys to the door in the slot, turned the key to the left four times (security or what), opened the thick wooden door and made my way down the stairs to the front door, pressed the button to unlock both the main door and the front gate and walked through onto the pavement. I looked left then right and spotted a little white fiat with Jason in the passenger seat and Laura waving for all she’s worth in the drivers seat, I waved back and then rubbing my eyes I cleared them of sleep. I hadn’t being imagining the buzzer.

Jason looked like I felt, I gave his shoulder a squeeze as I hopped into the back of this tin can and said hi to Laura, she replied with a very confident yet calm hi. The motor started and off we headed for the flea market in Cortemangiore. I felt comfortable as the language spoken was English and we all make valuable contributions.

It took us 20 minutes to reach Cortemangiore after a safe but hot drive as Laura had the car heater up to boiling point (I hate that in cars), my saving grace was that I kept the window immediately to my right down about three inches. We swung into the main drag of the town, the place was buzzing and full of life, we parked up and strolled into the market.

Flea markets at home never seem to excite me a great deal they are inevitably inside old church halls and the ones that are set up outside tend to be called car boot sales and offer the buyer a great deal of junk! The ones I have seen fit this description anyhow.

Italian flea markets are altogether a different affair to their English counterparts. Always outside and always running up and down the main street of the town or village these markets present an all together contrasting environment. This market stretched for about half a mile and turned into side streets and meandered around little squares and shop fronts. As the three of us strolled through the vast collection of iron work and antique wood pieces arranged in neat columns. I became aware of Laura joining in with my singing of Some Might Say (Oasis). “Yes I have the second album” she joyfully spoke. This was a great starter for getting to know her a little better.

Jason found a little aluminium tube that no longer contained the thermometer for which it was designed and stated it would very useful for storing his drill bits. We mooched for around an hour, sized up a couple of suede jackets (I almost parted with cash), then Laura decided it was time to head back to her place to meet her parents and eat.

As we drove up the cobbled street Laura reached for the little transmitter and clicked the button upon which a motorised gate slide across to reveal a long driveway. I became aware that the family was not poverty stricken and in fact, probably were quite wealthy. We entered by the back door straight into the kitchen and were met by both parents and younger sister. The reception was warm and I felt immediately at ease although I understood very little of what was being said. No time was wasted and we sat down to the moderately sized kitchen table.

The first course was chicken and pork stuffed green olives coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, to compliment this was bread and duck liver pate and some good red wine. I am far from a cognisor of wine as I have only developed a taste for it very recently but this really did taste good with the food. The second course was made by Laura’s aunt and brought over to celebrate All Deads Day which Laura explained is the day after All Saints Day. It looked a little strange being pale in colour and quite thick. An explanation revealed the ingredients – chicken liver, black eyed beans, pigs intestine, salami and some kind of thickening agent, probably cornflower. I always try things at least once with knowledge of exactly what the deal is, without which I stay clear. This really did taste good, very rich and extremely filling although maybe a bit heavy. Next came more bread crumbed ball things containing meat, we ate these with courgettes in garlic. The fourth course was roasted chicken and some more courgettes. Without sounding any more like a food and wine critic we finished with lemon sponge and lemon liqueur and washed it down with good coffee. I was packed and ate like a king, I couldn’t move!

Jason, Laura and myself climbed the stairs and entered her bedroom where we all fell asleep on her bed for around an hour; it was like being fifteen again. We chatted about loads of things and explained differences in American, English and Italian cultures. Laura opened up to us and told us all about her boyfriend and problems she has with him and we discussed differences in Men and Women and relationship problems and all those wonderful things.

Someone suggested English tea and we drank a large mug each before wishing the family good bye and showing extreme gratitude for the hospitality. I was made up with the whole thing, the family lives for their eldest daughter being 20 and they are very happy to see her enjoying herself entertaining guests. They were so so generous and interested in my opinion of Italian life and of course Italian food (standard topic). Laura ran us back in her fiat to the workshop in Via Bonomelli where Jason and myself sat and discussed the day.

I felt so relaxed and comfortable and decided to roll a cigarette and have a smoke. Golden Virginia really does taste good after you’ve eaten and when you’re really in the mood for it. Jason suggested we visit the Irish pub and have a beer, I couldn’t argue with that I was gasping for a pint of bitter and I knew the watering hole in question served a good beer.

I choose a barstool, which gave us a great vantage point of the barmaids. A friendly atmosphere in an English/Irish style decor promoted free flowing banter and we chatted for a while about jazz and spontaneity and how I feel life can be lived through jazz and other styles of music. Jason being more of the classical mould became enlightened about how I appreciate playing jazz and the fact that if your pissed off when you play then that’s fine you just go with it and express it and not try to cover the mood and disguise the emotion, as has to be the case with a performance of classical music. Classical music has a mood before you approach it and this has to be worked. Jazz however, has a free rein in many ways and I told him that I thought life could be viewed and lived in that way. Why should you hide your mood and put on a performance for a situation when you can live it with the way you are at any one point in time? Anyway it made for interesting conversation.

Jason introduced me to an ex-lover of his called Claudia who pulls the pints in the Old Tower. Claudia speaks no English and my Italian is poor so we understood little language but she has great eyes a lovely body and one of the nicest pair of tits I have ever seen (they far outweigh her slight frame). She was entertaining and a sight for sore eyes. One pint of Kilkenny and my eyelids were heavy. So, I coated up, said farewell and straddled my bike and coasted down the road taking in deep breaths of the cold air and trying to catch some of the falling leaves from the branches of the towering trees of the avenue.