Friday, May 10, 2013

Arrivederci, Spoleto

The women shop the market while the men gossip

"In Spoleto, we are all
very open, not like in
Perugia where the people
are very reserved."
~ Aurio (Owner of the Salumeria in Piazza di Mercati)

"What," I asked Mike while we were waiting for dinner tonight, "has been your favorite part of this trip so far?"

He thought a few minutes before responding.  "Well, I certainly liked going to the museums in Paris and all, and I've liked going to different places around here. I think, though, that my favorite thing has been watching you talk to the locals here. You look so happy."

Excuse me while I blush.

He's right.  If I had to pinpoint the best part of the trip for me, it's talking to people.  I tried in France, but my very, very limited French made it difficult.  Nonetheless, they understood my Frenlish, and I understood the Engles.  :-)

It's been different here, though.  Since I have somewhat of a base in Italian, I can converse in broken Italian.  I understand more than I say because I still mix up the Spanish words that are similar to the Italian ones.  But, as I mentioned either yesterday or the day before, I appreiate the Spoletini's kindness and patience with me.

Allow me to introduce you to some of the people who have touched our lives over the past 2.5 weeks.


It all started with a simple, "Bongiorno.  Come va?"  Aurio, the very nice owner of the salumeria stopped to talk with me our second full day in Spoleto, and every time he saw me after that, we had a nice conversation.  In addition to telling me about the history of the area, he talked about his family, his shop, Italy, Umbria, and more.  He suggested restaurants for us to try, and his recommendations were always good.  He, more than anyone, helped me with my Italian.  I'll miss him.

Comandante Russo

"Can I hep-a you?"  Comandante Vincente Russo asked me when he saw me looking at a map the first day we were in Spoleto.  We were trying to get back to our apartment, and in the maze of streets and alleys that is Spoleto, we were lost.  His willingnes to help was a light in the dark for us.

The thing that Bob, Steph, Mike and I will remember most about him was his love for American music, particularly the Woodstock artists, Richie Havens, and FREE-DOM!!


"Hello, my frain!  My frain. How are-a you?"

We usually hear the exuberant Francesco before we see him.  The 33-year old hotel school graduate is a staple around Cafe degli Artisti and the train station.  He works in his father's bakery but wants to own his own hotel someday.  He doesn't drive because he had a heart condition when he was a baby, so he walks around Spoleto during the day looking for Americans with whom he can talk.  He wants to come to the States some day, but he has to find a woman first.  He kept telling us that he loved American girls, and yesterday he added Spanish girls to the list.  He said he will come and visit us in Las Vegas, but since I somehow forgot to give him my card, that may be difficult. (Thank heaven.)

Sandra, owner of The Enoteca

On our first Sunday in Spoleto, we were searching for a place to eat and stumbled on the Enoteca which is near Piazza di Mercati. When we had finished eating Sandra, the owner and chef, came out to ask us how things were.  We gave her rave reviews, and she was happy that we were pleased with dinner.  Two mornings later, she came into the cafe while we were having coffee on the "porch" outside, and she talked to me for a few minutes before she went inside to have her own breakfast.  About 30 minutes later, she came out and tapped me on the shoulder.

"I paid for your breakfast," she announced.  "I hope you have a great day in Spoleto."

It wasn't much.  The four of us had a cappuccino and pastry each, but it was such a nice surprise and so generous of her to honor us in that way.

Giancarlo, the shoe repair man

I noticed Giancarlo our first night in Spoleto.  He has a little shoe-repair shop on our street, and he's in there every morning and evening.  We have never really had a conversation, but we always wish him, "Bongiorno" or "Buona sera," and he responds in kind.  He alway waves when he sees us walking by. 

"I kinda wish we'd talked to him," Mike just said to me.  He went on to mention how we never see cobblers anymore, but also that Giancarlo was so friendly with us.  Amen.

The barista at Bar Comercio

I have no idea what this guy's name is, but he is the owner and barista at another coffee bar in Spoleto.  We alternated between his place and Cafe degli Artisti, and I really liked his coffee better.  when he made me cappuccini, he would always put a little design in chocolate syrup on top of mine... I noticed he didn't do that with everyone.  It makes a diffrence, you know.

Finally, let me just mention the men in the photo at the top of this post.  I don't know any of them, but we have passed a number of them more than once in the time we've been here. We always greeted whomever we passed, and to a man, they responded to us.  

So, tomorrow is the big day.  We'll be on the 8:30 train to Sulmona (with stops in Terni and L'Aquila first), arriving around 2:00.  I'm sure I'll have a lot to report tomorrow evening.

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