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Report 1043: Luggage, Lattes and Lunacy

By Palma from California, Spring 2006

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Page 12 of 17: May 30: Hell Breaks Loose: Got Xanax?

photo by waiter

Dinner at Il Pino

I woke up at 6, showered, dressed and was having coffee at the corner bar by 6:40. I read through two lattes, until the hotel breakfast room opened at 7:30. After a disappointing breakfast, I went for a walk. I took pictures around town and soon some of the shops began to open. Ida said we were meeting “around 10.” I bought a toy stuffed animal cinghiale, two table toppers for my patio table and a pretty scarf. I returned to the hotel at 10:05, called Ida and told her I’d be waiting in the lobby. They came back at 11:20. And I had worried that I was five minutes “late!”

If truth be known, I had little or no interest in going to Siena. It is one of those cities in Italy that people either love or hate. I have been there three times, and after the first time, didn’t care if I ever returned. My second time was because Brad had read a lot about the Palio, and wanted to see the city. The third time was in ’03, because our friends wanted to go. I have never had a bad time there, but I’m just kind of luke warm about it (although, I have always enjoyed the large Furla store, and never returned from it empty-handed).

I actually do love Siena’s Duomo, and think it is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen in Italy. I always go to the Duomo when in Siena to try to talk myself into liking the city more. Those cathedral floors are fabulous! Today, the only reason I was going was that Ida planned on being back by three; we were meeting a favorite cousin of hers, and I have loved all the relatives so far; and mostly because I recently had a cousin, Catherine, who died. My hope was to have masses said for her at the cathedral.

We left for Siena at 12 and it started to rain. Before we even got out of town, Ida said, "I’d like to leave by ten tomorrow, so we get home to have my water pressure fixed". I teasingly said with a chuckle, “What time is that in REAL time?” Gail turned around from the front seat and started YELLING at me, “We are on vacation! What’s the rush? You are so angry and argumentative!”

I calmly said, "Gail, I’m not angry at all. I was teasing Ida. I don’t laugh when I’m angry. You have to admit, she says 9, and we leave at 11:30.” She continued shouting, “Well you sound ANGRY! Angry and ARGUMENTATIVE!”

I mumbled, “Whatever…” ( like a teenager). I shut up and read my book in the backseat. The day was deteriorating fast. I thought, “I could be floating on a pool raft in my backyard with no one yelling at me…” I can’t even remember the last time someone spoke to me that way. I also don’t appreciate being told how I FEEL. Can you spell P-R-O-J-E-C-T-I-O-N?

We arrived and parked near San Dominica, met Ida’s very fun cousin, Claudia, and walked toward the Campo. It rained off and on. We wandered into a couple of stores, and then went to have lunch in a restaurant on the Campo. Gail and I had spaghetti carbonara; Ida and Claudia had pizza. We said good-by to Claudia (who was on her lunch hour), and shopped our way back to the car. I bought a Furla purse, two evening bags, a shawl, two gold charms, and a stone pendant I will make a necklace for. We returned to San Gimignano at 6:30. I bought a couple more gifts and a couple more pashminas, and then had a quiet latte at Piazza del Duomo.

It always frightens Brad when we go into a nice shop or store out of town, and a sales person remembers me. This is especially true at ceramic stores in Italy. So far, I was remembered by merchants in Pienza, Montalcino, and by three in San Gimignano. It was clearly time for a ceramics purchase. I had scouted yesterday, and I returned to say my favorite phrase, “Charge and ship.” I bought one very large wall platter that matches our huge olive oil jar in the kitchen. My other purchase was a delicate pattern of 3-D lemons on white, of which I bought three assorted size candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers, and napkin rings with the lemons and lemon blossoms. My buddy who I buy from each year was feeling generous; so he threw in a couple of ceramic Christmas ornaments for my Italy tree when I commented that the shipping charges had increased from last September. I was not insane this time… just two boxes!

Tonight was our nice dinner out at Il Pino. We were served a complementary glass of prosecco. I started with a lovely pear, pecorino, saffron rissoto. This was followed by delicious lamb chops in a pistachio crust and half a bottle of Vernaccia. This drinking alone thing is getting old! We finished eating at 9:20. Ida wanted to go to sleep. Gail and I wanted coffee. We tempted Ida with the promise of gelato at the corner caffé. As we waited for our bill, the couple at the next table began a conversation with us. They were from England, and had just purchased a home to refurbish in Le Marche on their first trip to Italy. We engaged in conversation as they ate their dessert. I was dying for coffee, but an enjoyable conversation continued and continued. We paid our bill, and I went out for a smoke.

At this point, (10:00) I should have either ordered coffee, or left. I came back in, and now another American couple had joined the discussion. Gail was fading, and no longer wanted coffee. Finally, we left at five minutes to 11. I ran to the corner bar that was closing, just as they turned off the espresso machine and locked their gelato case. He would not reopen the gelato, but made me a cappuccino. Ida and Gail returned to the hotel. I called Brad, but it was so cold outside, I couldn’t sit there, even to drink a sip of coffee. When I got to the hotel, the front doors were locked. I banged on doors, windows, walked down the deserted street and contemplated yelling up to our window. I remembered the sign on the check-in desk: “Doors will remain open until 1:00 a.m.” After several minutes, the embarrassed night clerk (who was NOT at his desk) finally opened the doors for me. I left my cappuccino on the table and crawled into bed. It was like a weird Twilight Zone episode. I usually read until I’m sleepy, but I didn’t want to keep them up with the light on, so I tried to go to sleep.

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