Awake in Italia…

I’m publishing from my tablet with a difficult internet connection, so please bear with my technical difficulties!

In my travels I have found that Italian kitchens make are some of the best places for writing.
And it just so happens, I find myself in a kitchen in Florence, Italy.

It was a last minute trip and its not like I have plane ticket money laying around. I should just get that part out right now. I would love to have Italian plane ticket money sitting around the house, alas…now I have credit card debt sitting around. Ah well…life is to be lived right?

My sister lives in Florence. I’ve mentioned her before. I mention her often actually. So much so that I often fear people are rolling their eyes ready to scream, “we get it, your sister lives in flipping Italy.”

Anyway, long story short, here I am in Italy to help out my sister for a week before we head back to southern California together to visit our parents.

The tourist, the historian, the wide eyed girl, the writer and the Italian speaker in me have aligned for these few precious moments. This is a quick trip and I’m not going to waste a minute of it.

It’s a different trip this time, for several reasons. The first being the time. I usually try for two weeks at the minimum in order to try and get the most out of the cost of a plane ticket. So seven days really becomes 5, as two of the days are for travel.

Second, I usually try to visit in the fall or spring, there are less tourists and the weather is much nicer. And there are less tourists. Did I mention that already? This is high tourist season right now. The busses are packed. The top five monuments are overrun, and the heat is almost unbearable.

The third reason this is a different trip is because of a book I’ve been writing lately. The bulk of the action takes place in the Tuscan countryside and in Florence, among other locations. So for inspiration sake and for research sake, it’s beyond nice to be here once again.

I rolled in on Wednesday evening and it was about 90 degrees, and yesterday heated up to a ripe 98. My sister and her family don’t have air conditioning, but let’s be honest, no one is going to feel sorry for me one teensy tiny iota of a bit. I’m in freaking Italy.

So as a writer, what better way to share my adventures with you than…well hell. Share my adventures with you.

So, the Italian kitchen. I love Italian kitchens, or perhaps it’s all kitchens that I like. I’ve written some of my favorite things at kitchen tables. Life begins and ends at the kitchen table where we find sustenance and comradery and friends to laugh with and dear ones to cry with. I sit in awe of my sister who has built a life for herself in another country as she cooks in her overly hot kitchen. It’s blue in here. Royal blue cabinets cover one side of the thin kitchen space. What looks like a pantry is really the fridge and freezer, cleverly disguised. There is enough room for one small table and three chairs, if said table and chairs suck it in.

The table sits against he wall opposite the counter space. At one end of the kitchen is a sliding door that closes the kitchen off from the rest of the house. Most of the homes I’ve visited in Italy have doors to the kitchen area that can close. Is this to cut down on the sound, the smell throughout the rest of the house, give the cook some privacy? To be honest I haven’t actually asked, because part of me doesn’t really want to know the answer.

The other end of the kitchen has thin floor to ceiling French doors that lead to a balcony. This is a small balcony, there is enough space for a washing machine, and I use the term lightly. Take an average size washing machine in the states and cut almost half of it off, and there you go, you have an Italian size washing machine. That sits at one end of the balcony, and there is just enough room to take about two full size steps and turn yourself around before heading back. Small, you see.

The sun is setting, it’s about 930pm. There is a discussion on the latitude of Italy vs. Boise, the corner of the world I call home. I am strangely excited to find that we are both on a 43 degree latitude line. And at the same time strangely disappointed. I wanted Italy to be something so special it was difficult to have a connection to in the sates. Being on the same line, well, it brings it closer, hugs that idea of being a small world closer. On the one hand my sister is closer to me, on the other hand I feel a bit robbed of the foreignness I’ve come to love of this country.

Dinner is pasta in a pesto sauce. The noodles are al dente. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is set in the center of the table along with some homemade salami from my brother in law’s town. I’m pored a glass of wine and the day slips away from me. The jet lag, the strange mix of exhaustion and wanting to keep going. Jet lag, the heat, the sounds of neighbors in the courtyard fixing their own dinners, the crazy wild cats screaming at each other mingle and the foreignness of it and yet the normalcy of it seeps into my bones and sets up shop and I’m home. My home away from home.

I rally long enough for a quick passigiare, a walk through the near by piazza to get a gelato and shake out my legs. I try something called atomico, and I’m still not sure what sort of concoction of gelato it was. Still the coolness of the creamy treat is needed. I talk with my sister and brother in law a few more minutes before I give up on trying to keep my eyes open. I am for the land of the dreamers now.

I cuddle up on the pullout sofa and hope the lone mosquito I saw flying around doesn’t do too much damage. Either way, I can’t help but smile as I whisper a buona notte to the blood thirsty zanzare.


  • Sandra Frechette

    You’re story about kitchens in In Italy paints a picture that I would like to see and have somebody cook a real Italian meal and have a glass of wine. Keep writing i really enjoy your reflection of your life as you see it.

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