Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quadri di Estate

It seems I may have come to this small village in Campania in reverse. Arriving for the first time in late November just after celebrating Thanksgiving alone on a rooftop in Rome - savoring the best tuna fish sandwich I had ever eaten in my life.

Thanksgiving was on a Thursday as usual. But in Rome it was just another day and just another panini to the young confident guy behind the counter.
Fresh arugula, crisp capers and olive oil smothered the pink tuna on thick-crusted bread. Bought with a bottle of white wine at a crowded corner deli outside Campo dei Fiore, the sandwich was big enough for me to split into two meals. But rather than find it sodden a few hours later - and really enjoying my prosaic solitude on the day of American family feasting - I devoured both halves sitting on a folding chair with the sounds of the neighborhood wafting up to the roof.

It was the last day of the closing week of the Jubilee Year, 2000. All week the Eternal City had seemed quiet and withdrawn, her museums and churches nearly empty. The couple in the window below my perch were just boiling the water for their pasta. I poured myself another glass of wine and thought of my parents and my first daring adventure away from home alone on the holidays.

In a week I would find myself in Calitri. And the simple days of rooftop wine and panini would be over. Not to mention freedom from familial responsibilities. I was meandering along on a personal journey that would lead me to discover another world and fairly change the course of my life, but that wouldn’t occur to me until much, much later...