I’ve been in Italy for several days and have not written much. Perhaps because I have not done much except relax and visit with my beloved cousin, Sergio with whom I only had two days.
Upon arriving in Turin, I made a quick dash for my hotel, Le Serre. Sergio recommended it as his parents had stayed there the previous week. I was enchanted. Only three hundred yards from his own apartment, the location was a country residence with fields surrounding it–smack dab in the middle of suburbia.
Each room was actually a small apartment with a kitchen and sitting area along with a bedroom and bathroom. Rough-hewn wood furniture adorned the rooms. Combined with the brick walls and ceiling, the atmosphere suggested an old Italian farmhouse. The courtyard had wrought iron tables and chairs with stone walkways. The driveway consisted of pea gravel. Below the actual buildings a swimming pool beckoned. Jasmine filled covered the outer walls.
The most amazing aspect of this bejeweled little apartment/hotel was the morning breakfast. Upon checking in, the host had inquired as to what time I would like breakfast brought to my room.
“Quando colazione? Sette e mezza?” (Breakfast at seven-thirty?) I nodded. Was he really going to deliver breakfast to my apartment?
That he was. The next morning at precisely 7:30 a.m. there was a knock on my door. I was exhausted, having slept only five hours the previous two days.
Groggily I leapt out of bed, threw on some clothes and opened the door. The host’s wife proffered to me a platter of salami, ham, bread, crackers, jams, juices, fresh fruit and yogurt. The jam-filled croissant was still warm as was the fresh roll. I stared at the plate.
“Grazie mille!” I croaked out. I made three espressos from the espresso maker and sat down. For the next forty-five minutes I gorged on the mini banquet before me. After finishing, I fell back into bed and slept another seven hours.
Waking up at 3:00 p.m., I fairly kicked myself for sleeping away so much of the day. But, I reasoned that my body obviously needed the respite from international travel and sleep deprivation.
I walked down to the hotel office and Le Serre’s amenable and smiling host phoned for a cab who took me downtown to do some shopping for myself any my cousin in Lviv, Ukraine, a huge fan of the Italian soccer league, Juventus. The sun was shining and there was a haze in the air, and the humidity made even walking a chore. Many businesses in Italy do not have air conditioning as the price of electricity is prohibitive. As a result, it is difficult to find a break from the mugginess.
Nevertheless, I sauntered onward, Viewing the elegant shops along the Via Roma, I searched for some flashy Italian dress shoes to replace the pair I had purchased in Tuscany in October of ’15 for my brother’s wedding in Ascoli Piceno. I was chagrined when I realized that Italian fashion had moved on since that time.
Eventually I found the Juventus store. Unfortunately, its inventory was severely limited and the sizes were not what I needed. I snapped and texted photos of the offerings to my cousin, Victor, in Lviv. However, nothing was his size. I was, however, able to find a shirt for a friend back in Oregon.
I continued my tour of downtown Turin, drinking espresso and enjoying the pastries, something that was probably antagonizing my recently-diagnosed Type 2 diabetes. However, I didn’t care. I reasoned to myself that I would lose a ton of weight from walking in the heat and drinking water.
As evening approached, Sergio sent me a text. We would meet and have dinner together. His wife and daughter were exhausted after a long day and it would give us a chance to be alone together. He picked me up and we drove to a local trattoria where we dined on ham and fig-stuffed ravioli.
After dinner we went to his home where he presented me with a gift bag of Juventus clothing–shorts, t-shirts and a rain jacket. All unique designs unavailable to the general public. As the vice-president for Human Resources at Juventus, my cousin lavishes his opportunities on others. I would now be the best dressed 58-year-old at my gym back in Portland.
We were at his home for a short while before making the short walk to my apartment/hotel. Sitting in my little kitchen we reminisced. Hadn’t life turned out different than we ever expected? The previous month had marked the twenty year anniversary of our meeting, a fact that was not lost on us and caused us to marvel at the concept.
“Where has the time gone, Cugino?” I asked. I remarked at the changes in our lives, Grandfather, our Nonno, had died. My father had died. My brother had married two more times and fathered a son. Sergio was now married with a daughter and his brother, Maurizio was married with two teenagers. Sergio is pushing fifty years of age and I’m nearing sixty.
Sergio nodded. Life had changed so much. Where would the next twenty years take us? We chatted some more, but Sergio was yawning. Dead tired from a long day of work and commuting to high level meetings in Milan, he was fading fast. He got up to leave.
“Thank you for coming, Bob. I am sorry we did not have more time together,” he said.
“That’s okay, Sergio. Two days with “the Devil” will last me for a long time.” We embraced tightly at the door. I told him to give his in-laws my love and thanked him for his hospitality. After closing the door, I watched him walk down the driveway.
It’s different now. I used to get very emotional when I would part with my family in Italy. Perhaps living here in 2015 for a year has jaded me. Perhaps I’m just more mature. Perhaps I am more comfortable in my relationship with my family.