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lockout.

impatience does not get you good things in Italy.  and i am learning this the hard way today.

got home to my frontdoor, thinking happily of the new salmon paste i'd bought and the pasta i'd make with it, and forced my key a little too hard, and it bent.

so.  instead of remembering the quit-while-you're-ahead rule, and doing what i should have done (which is drop my bags by the doorstep and stroll up the street to have a glass of wine and wait for Lynda to come home with my spare key) i tried applying the very new-yorker, you-can-fix-a-problem-if-you-sweat-on-it-enough rule.  i tried unbending the key and reinserting it in the lock.

and so, of course, it broke.
*inside* the lock.

at which point the absorbed-by-osmosis Italian in me (and the urge to go to the bathroom), took over, and i did what i should have done anyway:  dropped my bags by the doorstep and strolled up the street to have a glass of wine.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[La Saletta, Cortona]
[mercoledi 26 maggio 2004 ore 21:00:36] []

matrimonio in Montepulciano.

i don't know how common it is for weddings in Tuscany to be held at gorgeous vineyards.  maybe it's hard to have a wedding in Tuscany at anything *but* a gorgeous vineyard.  nevertheless, i don't think i'm going to be jaded by this tradition any time soon.  at least not based on Saturday's spettacolo at Avignonesi.

it's kind of hard to describe, without sounding exceedingly tedious.  like trying to come out with good writing when you're in love -- no one really wants to read about how wonderful your point of view happens to be.  there are only so many synonyms for the words beautiful and breathtaking, and after a while they all sound like the word boring.

but okay let's try.  you've got:  rolling green hillsides (ack! cliche! cliche!) and seriously-straight cypresses standing sentry at random horizons.  a grey horse and a white horse in a field in the distance.  which, now that i come to think of it, may as well have been picked to match the bride and groom's colors for the day.  salami piccante and prosecco at key points, and perfect, perfect weather.

it frightens me how often i marvel at how beautiful this country is.  at least a couple of times a day, is becoming quite normal.  this, from a seven-year-new-yorker who used to speed-walk past vaguely tufted traffic triangles on Houston Street and think, "ooh.  grass."

here, i sit on the bus for ten minutes, between Camucia and her big-sister-Cortona up the hill, and it is a full ten minutes of visual amazement.

here, if i happen to look at my watch around 8:30 in the evening, i run over to the window with a glass of wine, because the sunset, and the swallows celebrating it, are a *show*.

here, when we drive to work, i love watching poppy fields as we pass them by, as they go from Sea-Of-Red to Sea-Of-Green to Sea-Of-Red-Again.

here, my favorite part of coming home at night after too much fun at La Saletta is stopping at the door and looking up to see how many stars i can see in just my personal patch of sky.

see.  i told you too much beautiful can get boring...


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Canutola, Lisciano Niccone]
[martedi 25 maggio 2004 ore 13:02:34] []

when the scallopina takes too long to get to your table...

i have just decided, via some force inside that i can't quite rationalize, that I Am Going To Get A Cat.

of course, this is after a particularly (but not wholly unusual) wine-heavy lunch.  but what can i do?  when we go to Gianna's, the primi come after the secondi, the bread even later, and all you have is the house rosso to keep you busy while you wait.  i was *trying* to be adult, and unhurried.  i was only just messaging Ciro, quietly, to ask -- unbeknowst to anyone else at the table -- if he'd take me to the pound this weekend to help choose one.  and i get stuck on the Italian word for pound, and have to ask Danilo.  and Bianca, sitting next to me, asks if i'd be interested in a three-day old stray that a client of hers has found, and is feeding -- by syringe.  i ask what she looks like, thinking brush-offedly, that i'm so fussy, it won't be the right color...  and Bianca says it's a tabby.  i look crestfallen, and ask terrifiedly if it's "gray".  and she nods, with eyes scrunched tight for further illustration -- "we don't know the color of her eyes yet."  oh dear.

so i call Ciro to say we may not be going to the pound after all...


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Canutola, Lisciano Niccone]
[mercoledi 17 maggio 2004 ore 15:35:10] []

the night they invented champagne.

i can't help it, it's true.  one of my favorite movies, of all time, is Gigi.  not just Breakfast At Tiffany's, or Roman Holiday, but in addition to, and perhaps in excess of.  and this week, in edicola, they were selling Leslie Caron and Louis Jordan and the shockingly-shameless-for-his-time Maurice Chevalier, on dvd.  

i could not resist.

not only could i not resist, i could not wait.  all week, since discovering last friday -- while lounging about Arezzo waiting for the Centro d'Integrazione to open so that i could make my appointment to submit my request to ask for my permesso (not kidding), when i found An American In Paris being sold on dvd (which i also could not resist, but which turned out, as i feared, to have been a bad investment -- now i understand why i never actually watched anything apart from the ballet sequence as a little girl)...  all week, i have been priming myself to scour the newstands today, to garner my precious copy (because you know it's just going to fly off the shelves).  all week, i have been looking forward to this.

i know.  i know.  but i can't help it.  i have a father who raised me on mgm musicals.  i'm not kidding.  we're talking buzby berkley and the original stairway to heaven and groucho marx (thank goodness) and esther williams and liza minelli talking about her girlfriend in chelsea and audrey hepburn insisting she could have danced all night.  i loved them when i was six and didn't have a clue that they were talking about (or living the lives of) callgirls and kept women and adultery and abortion and fabricated lives.  and every year i got older, and every year i'd watch them over again.  and every year i'd understand a little more about, or at least have a slightly suspicious-er sense of, the cold realities they were actually singing and dancing so "gaily" about.  and every year that i understood more, i'd be in danger of liking less, of being disillusioned, disappointed, hurt that this was *not* in fact the disney-like fairy-tale i'd been loving, but something a little darker; that these were *not* in fact the uncomplicatedly-happy-endings i had always thought they were, but instead, sort of disturbing commentaries on society, and sort of uncomfortable compromises on life.

Gigi was, and probably still is, the best example of this funny, slow, coming-of-age phenomenon in my life.  when i was seven i loved the movie.  i wanted to *be* Gigi.  i wanted to live her life -- because i thought every part of it was perfect, the beginning, the end, the middle.  to me she was a princess all through, and the entire courtesan undercurrent flowed far, far over my head.  it must have been like watching Pretty Woman and thinking, oh, what a funny way to meet someone...

it was only years later, and slowly, in tiny, vhs-increments of hesitant clarity, that i started to think, hey wait a second...  and every time i caught a bigger glimmer of the undercurrent, the not-quite-there storyline, i'd end up feeling a little out of sorts.  not nearly the way you might feel when you found out suddenly, that in fact there was no tooth fairy, but along those lines:  you knew you could handle this new information, but you weren't sure you liked it very much, and you weren't sure how stupid to feel about having been a bit misled...

i am twenty-six years old now.  the last time i watched Gigi i was still in college, home on summer break from my already life-altering new-york-city experience.  i have since read Collette's novel in all it's no-nonsense brusqueness ("i know you just want me to sleep in your bed.").  and i have since learned to be wary of men who might love little girls as much as Honore Lachaille does.

but, i think i will still love this film.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Roma, Cortona]
[mercoledi 05 maggio 2004 ore 19:49:17] []

barbialla nuova.

this weekend's surprise was a trip to a friend's agristurismo.  my first time as far as this still relatively-new Italian phenomenon goes.  it is all i can do not to run around telling everyone, very loudly, how huge a Chianina cow is in real life.  they stand almost *six* feet tall, per l'amore di Dio!  forget looking you in the eye, these things can spit cud right on your head if they wanted to.  they are so large, so ancient and not-of-our-time, you feel like you're in some domestic, farmy version of Jurassic Park...

the agriturismo is beautiful, all five-hundred-odd hectares of it.  we did not get to go truffle-hunting in the woods (with the truffle-hunting-dogs and the truffle-hunting-man, or tartufaio, as he is called) -- it is not the season.  and we did not get to see a toro, or Chianina bull.  but we did get to see a female pheasant scuttling busily away from a much-better-dressed male pheasant.  and we did get to have a fabulous dinner, fresh fave and bruschetta (di pomodoro, di carciofi), farfalle al ragu (and we're talking the good ragu, not the Olive Garden slap-together-grit-sauce), roastbeef (di Chianina), and -- for us especially, because Ciro is a friend of theirs -- a sampling of the always-incredible, (and in this case incredible-celestial) bistecca di Chianina.

i could not move from being so fabulously full.

of course, it really makes you wonder, as you savor the deliciousness of a steak that good, what kind of soul you must be, to have just a few hours earlier seen these fabulous beasts up close, been awed and fascinated and moved by them, and now to be eating one of them, and to be enjoying it so, so, SO much.

needless to say, it was not a discussion that lasted very long at the dinner table...


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Benedetto, Cortona]
[lunedi 03 maggio 2004 ore 22:05:19] []