Owen had a field trip Thursday of this week, so Fred and I spent the day doing what Owen likes least: visiting small non-touristy towns, walking around photographing, then separating for Fred to draw and me to work in a café with wifi. Owen prefers to see the places more well-known and considered by the masses as worthy of seeing. I like both, frankly, but it’s a whole lot cheaper to work in a café in Vignanello than it is in Florence.
The three towns were Canepina, Vallerano and Vignanello, all about 30 to 40 minutes away from where we live. Surprisingly, in our nine years here we’d not yet explored these three charming towns. Fred found them. The first was small and very quiet. Then again, the whole country is quiet between noon and four, except for the major cities. All you hear is knives and forks being used or washed, and then soap operas. Loud. Wafting out of the shuttered windows. Cats are the only life on the streets.
|So lucky—he popped out just when I clicked :)|
After scouting around Canepina, shooting photos and looking for sketchable scenes for Fred, I settled into my café. It wasn’t too special. A little dark and “modern,” so not especially aesthetically pleasing, but a very nice proprietor. We met at the car in an hour and a half and went on to Vallerano. Walked, shot, and settled me down into a café. It had seemed perfect when we first arrived and asked about wifi. They said yes, they had it, and I said I’ll be back in 20 minutes. When I went back there were now 12 men at tables outside playing cards. Someone like me is a real spectacle—an unfamiliar face, a camera, a huge bag with my laptop, a stupid hat that immediately shouts “TOURIST” but I really need it because of the sun. You can’t put sunblock on your scalp! I walked by them, through the beaded curtain, into the café and sat with two men and the proprietor with a cappuccino and a water (one to perk me up, the other so I didn’t melt). They watched the Tour de France, I worked, and all we said to each other was “Caldo! Troppo caldo!”
At one point a man with a little short beagle type dog walked in and the dog made a beeline for me, as if he had seem me come in earlier and made a mental note, "There's ONE new person in there I have to meet." I gave him tons of attention and he sat down on my bag and settled in for some love.
The last town, Vignanello, was my favorite. It was the biggest and, because it was 5 pm at this point, it was coming to life. After the walk, Fred and I had a drink, as is our custom on these days of sketching and working. The place was called the Modern Café and had a pretty big outdoor area with an amazing view of the surroundingcountryside, as this town is on a hill. The place was ALL MEN PLAYING CARDS. About six tables, four or five to a table. And not one of them wasn’t wearing blue. Blue stripes, blue checks, blue plaid, solid blue. And none of them were eating or drinking. I asked the proprietor, “Dove sono tutti le donne?" My attempt at "Where are all the women?” And he laughed and gave me an answer which I couldn’t understand. DAMN. Fred thinks they were at church. We’ve seen that a lot. The women go to church, while the men hang out and chat till they come out.
Finally some ordering was done by folks other than us. One guy came out with two ice cream cones. One for him, and one for his dog. Have I mentioned Italians love their dogs? He fed the cone to the dog, twisting the cone so the dog could lick it evenly all around. Couldn’t have been more considerate if he were doing this for a child. It was pretty cute, and everyone around him thought so too. Another guy later did the same for his dog—bought him a cone—but just let him chomp down on it in one bite. To each his own.
|That's my big-ass white car on the end. |
I spend 11 months of the year driving a Mini Cooper in the
land of the biggest cars on earth, and the 12th month
driving a freaking Fiat SUV on the most narrow streets ever.
|Fred said that baby cat doesn't look anything like his mother.|
|But just a few blocks away might be the genetic link!|
|Nothing but the sounds of dinner dishes and soap operas.|
|The Modern Café|
|Men in Blue|