Saturday, August 8, 2015

I Love This Bar, Part III


"A rose is arose is a rose is a rose."  
~ Gertrude Stein

And a bar is a bar is a bar is a bar.  Supposedly.  Some may make a cappuccino more to your liking than others, and some may serve a better prosecco or frullato or brioche. Some may have more comfortable seating or lighting. Others may have hours or a location  The big difference comes in the people who run and work the bar and the people who frequent it.  Think about it... How often did you wish you had a bar like Cheers that you could frequent?

As I mentioned previously, when Cesar and Lilli closed the bar for a few days last year, I went to the other bars in the area.  The big difference in the bars was the atmosphere created by the people who owned them. Let me introduce you to the people who make Bar Santo Stefano a warm and welcoming spot in Bologna.

 As I mentioned a few days ago, Cesar is a native of Barcelona.  He originally was working for his father and lived in a number of places including China (where he met Lilli).  He eventually moved to Piacenza, Italy, and worked in a bar there before he and Lilli decided to buy their own bar.  Cesar speaks Spanish, Catalan, Italian, English, French, and some Chinese, so he's probably got you covered if you go into the bar and can't speak Italian.   

Last summer, I relied a little too much on my Spanish when talking with Cesar.  At one point, one of my Italian instructors told me I should change bars and find someone who spoke only Italian.  Almost the exact same day, Cesar told me he was going to talk only in Italian to me.

A native of China, Lilli has lived in Italy for 20+ years.  Her parents spend six months in Piacenza and six months in China, but they visit Bologna at times.  Lilli speaks Chinese and Italian, of course, and she's learning English.

One thing I'll tell you about my two good friends is that they work long and hard hours.  Cesar opens between 6:30 and 7:00, and Lilli joins him mid-morning.  After the rush, he goes home to rest and comes back later in the afternoon.  They close between 7 and 9 pm, and after they lock the door, they clean everything.

After Cesar and Lilli, Giovanni was one of the first people I met in Bologna last year.  He owns a farm a short distance from town, but his home there was destroyed in the earthquake in 2012.  Currently, he lives in Bologna and travels to the farm to check on things.  Giovanni has a heart of gold, and this year he gave Mike and me a list of towns we should visit near Bologna.  Because of him, we discovered Faenza and the ceramic museum and Reggio Emilia.

Last summer, Giovanni bought me wine one evening. My Italian was pretty choppy last year, and my part of the conversation was a series of lurching words.  Bless him, but he stood and talked to me without grimacing at my mistakes.  I was happy I could actually communicate better this year.  (PS Giovanni gave me the white rose in my hair in honor of our leaving.)

Vittoria owns the dress shop that is next to Bar Santo Stefano.  She is another friend from last summer, and I enjoy talking to her.  She is, like me, a dog lover.  If you look closely, you can see Zina, her little dog, on the chair behind us.

Le Donne
Gianna, Rosanna, Patrizia, Lea, and Carla are a group of women who meet at the bar most mornings. Some of them are there every morning, and others come and go.  They always ask me about my day, what I've done, what I'm going to do, etc.  I just love these ladies.

Gianlucca is the brother of one of the morning gals, and like them, I just met him this year.  He is extremely nice, and we've had a number of good conversations.  Like the others, he helps me with the Italian.  Believe it or not, he's a black belt in the martial arts and has taught and competed in them.   The morning before Mike and I left Bologna, Gianlucca and I had a long talk about politics (below).

These are only some of the people I've come to love in Bologna.  Tomorrow I'll introduce you to some of the others (below) who also make my days...

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