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Report 881: A Slow Trip to Italy for a Mother and Daughter

By stella from Brooklyn, New York, Fall 2005

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Page 16 of 16: Surrendering to Reality

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Gulls gather to bid us farewell

We decided we would eat out for our last dinner. I was not in the emotional state to cook. Mom wanted to go back to Arnaldo’s to say goodbye to our friend Gianni, but sadly, the restaurant was closed. Another trattoria that seemed to be hopping every night of the week was about 20 steps away, Trattoria Der Pallaro. They serve a prix fix dinner there, you sit, and they bring out food. There are no menus, you eat what they give you. I remembered from the Slow Travel board that many people love this place, so it seemed like the perfect choice. Moreover, Mom did not want to walk another step.

They quickly brought proscuitto, some olives, some arancini, freshly fried and hot, and a dish of creamy lentils, along with a huge bottle of crisp house white wine, and a bottle of water. It was hard not to eat everything in front of you, but you must resist, since more is coming. Next up, simple rigatoni alla marinara, with parmigiano, which was very good. Then, slices of roasted veal, potatoes, and oddly placed within the menu, fresh mozzarella bocconcini. Finally, there were dolci, shots of fresh mandarin orange liqueur, incredibly sweet, and torta della nonna, with a terrific crust. It was perfect, quick, fresh, and delicious. I imagine if you live around here and simply want a good meal without thinking about it, and a place to linger and talk and enjoy company, this is the place to visit. It was not a bad way to end our trip at all. They warmly wished us a buona sera on the way out, and we took another slow passiagata around the streets near our apartment.

I fell asleep almost immediately after we got back to the apartment. In the middle of the night, however, I was awakened by a thunderstorm that moved through Rome, intense amounts of rain and a single, thunderous clap. I am still trying to assign some sort of sign to this occurrence; it cannot simply be weather at play. The only sign that I can tell at this point is that it is time for my New York insomnia to return. I could not fall back asleep, so there I was, on the couch at 3:30 am, watching bad Italian TV.

The morning dawned and I was admittedly pouty and silent. I felt once again like I live in Rome, so how can I leave? We had become regulars at Roscioli, I recognized the signoras who walk by every day on the way to the Campo, and there is my sweet adoptive nonno at Bar Farnese. I have said this before and will say it again. I love Rome.

I packed entirely in sad mode. Then I took a last, lingering walk. I told Nonno at Bar Farnese that I was leaving today for New York, he asked when I would return, or at least I think he did, since he doesn’t speak English. I said soon, and left it at that. I will miss him more than the perfect cappuccino his son makes.

It was then a short walk to the best newsstand in the Campo to get one last International Herald Tribune for the plane ride (The New York Times is €12!!), and a last stroll among the stands of the Campo. The clementines were everywhere, the season for them having just started, and the tender, delicate curls of puntarelle were like green and white flowers. The artichokes were huge and purple, there were fresh chestnuts, porcini and even a truffle or two for sale.

Back onto Via Guibbonari, the apartment, and my departure, drew closer with every step. To delay the inevitable, I stopped into Antico Forno Marco Roscioli one last time for some snacks for the plane. I asked for pizza bianca, and the man behind the counter who has seen me all week knows exactly how much I like. Whack! His knife goes down, making one, then another cut, folding the rectangles over onto each other and wrapping them in brown, tissue-like paper. He knows I also one want some pizza marinara, and I am treated to another Whack! Whack! and the careful, considerate wrapping. I knew how much it would cost and had the exact change; Italian proprietors really like that. “Buon Giorno, Ciao!” they said to me as I left, and I said it too, as if I would indeed see them again tomorrow.

We were all packed up, all there was left to do was wait for Massimo, who would check us out. It turned out that the thunderstorm last night was pretty powerful, hitting the outer edges of the city hard and taking down some trees and power lines. Massimo called me at about 10:30 to say that he wasn’t sure he would make it, as they were stuck in terrible traffic. We were disappointed, because we wanted to say goodbye. At the last possible moment, right at 11:00 am, he called again to say that they were a few minutes away; and sure enough, they arrived only moments later. Massimo helped me lug everything downstairs and we were able to say a nice goodbye to him, Biancamaria, and Delfina; her kindergarten class was cancelled today because of the trees that had come down during the storm.

Our very handsome driver was there and all the bags were loaded into the van. We pulled away from apartment, the block, and the neighborhood. And just like that, my vacation was over. I could hardly believe it as we moved closer and closer to the airport. I felt like I had been gone forever, like I had left my old life completely behind. Then, just when the new one had started, it was time to surrender it. I heard it was raining and cold in New York. Wonderful.

The flight back was fine, and uneventful; in the baggage claim area at JFK, my mother and I parted company, as my throat closed and the tears welled up, this time for real. The long, tight hug she gave me instantly made it all seem better, the way that only a mother’s hug can magically do that. This was a very, very special trip for us to have taken together, and even though there was not much activity, there was something far more precious that we shared – time. In the end, I don’t think I could ask for anything more.


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