Is this love or just infatuation?

Woman on a mission: Find Cafe Novanto Quattro. Get coffee and a croissant. Eat, drink, and observe the locals.

I couldn’t ask for a finer morning. Orange sky again. Even less wind than yesterday. I put on two layers instead of three and exchanged the cashmere scarf for cotton. You know the drill, down 112 steps to the blue gate and into the street. I turned right.

Praiano is a V-shaped town. My house is practically at the tip of the V and to date my forays have been in the easterly direction. Today I ventured west.

Just around the bend – oh, oh. That tunnel didn’t show on the map. I paused – almost no traffic – it wasn’t a long tunnel – deep breath…

Made it!

I exited and stepped into an alternate universe. This side of Praiano is raw. Untamed. A different world.

I walked with my jaw hanging. Is there no end to the magnificence here? The feeling of being on the edge of the world? That everything is possible and joy multiplies with each breath?

A bit farther on I encountered civilization. Bustle and commerce. People. Scents of bread baking, bacon frying. I was suddenly reminded I hadn’t had breakfast. Where was this elusive Cafe Novanto Quattro?

When I saw the blue dome of San Gennaro I knew I’d gone too far. It should be right across from…ah! And there it was, a welcoming little hole-in-the-wall with tables both inside and out. The patter of conversation played like music. There was a line at the counter but I could see the pastry case and swallowed drool before it leaked from the corners of my mouth.

“Buongiorno.” The tall, heartthrob behind the counter greeted me.

“Buongiorno. I would like coffee please.”

“Americano?”

Did he mean me or the coffee? “Yes, and this.” I pointed to a flaky croissant oozing lemon filling.

“The cream one?”

“Yes.” I opened my purse.

“You eat here or take with you?”

“Here.”

“Then sit. I will bring it.”

I closed my purse.

Three of the six tables inside were occupied. I took an empty one nearest the door. Two women on my right chatted and laughed. Good friends, I thought. The couple across from me, older, probably married, conversed in muted tones. A man, woman, and dark-eyed boy about five finished their coffees and juice, paid, and left. There were no handphones or computers anywhere to be seen. Did these people actually come to drink coffee and speak to each other?

Heartthrob approached with breakfast and placed it in front of me. “Enjoy,” he said.

With the first bite it was confirmed – this would be my morning ritual for the rest of my stay and Americano was my new favorite brew. I ate slowly, savoring, indulging all the senses.

When I approached the counter to pay I had questions. “Per favore, when I arrive I say buongiorno, and when I leave I say ciao, is that right?”

“Yes, ciao,” he said. “Or, see ya later.” He winked and I laughed, paid the 4€ bill, and was on my way.

I didn’t want the tunnel again. Via Guglielmo Marconi veered off to the left at an incline that would take me up the mountain instead of through it – a far superior choice. Soon I was huffing and almost sweating. I loosened my scarf, unbuttoned my jacket and pressed onward.

At a three-way intersection I considered my options. Take Via Constantinopoli and continue climbing or choose Via Umberto for a gentle slope downward.

I remembered the juicy apple I bought at Centro Market on Via Umberto. I’d like another one. Decision made.

It was a picturesque and comfortable stroll. On the way down I passed a lovely lemon tree – isn’t there a song? Peter, Paul, and Mary? Yes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLhYghzNfII

After the lemons, I came upon this fabulous door with a pot of burgundy cyclamens in a niche and a car that matched the robe of…who is the patron saint of animals? There’s a cow peeking around…St. Francis maybe? I’d just snapped this shot when…

…someone called my name.

It happens all the time in Ubud, but here? I’ve only been here six days and I don’t know any…Nicola! My Airbnb host! What are the chances?

“Buongiorno, Sherry! You would like to meet somebody?”

“Yes! Of course!”

“Follow me.”

Down the steps. Turn. Down more steps to a door. A flurry of Italian, then, “Felicia, Raffaele, meet Sherry.”

What warmth! What welcome! Did I want coffee? Juice? Felicia was cooking, did I want to eat? Nicola translated.

“Please thank them,” I said, a bit overwhelmed. “But I just had breakfast. I don’t want to disturb…”

Disturbare!” Felicia caught the word and let loose with another volley of Italian.

“She says you do not disturb. She says come again tomorrow. Come any time.”

We took leave and once out of earshot I asked, “Nicola, who are they? Your family? Friends?”

“Family. Yes. Family. She is my mother-in-law. She owns your house.”

Do I fall too hard, too fast? Is this love or just infatuation? Bali, you’ll always have my heart…but…I’m in Italy now.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda G
    Feb 09, 2020 @ 02:01:35

    What a beautiful place! And you are there at a perfect time!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. stevecastley
    Feb 09, 2020 @ 02:52:16

    I love the post and that magnificent coastline. But best of all is the ad at the end for blood pressure tablets. Day 6 looked magnificent.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. meenawalia
    Feb 09, 2020 @ 02:56:19

    Nature is so beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Pat Malcolm
    Feb 09, 2020 @ 05:32:16

    Sherry, I’m just enjoying this visit to Italy so much! And today you have underscored just one of the many reasons I love Airbnb!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Jackie Countryman
    Feb 10, 2020 @ 01:21:25

    I totally loved this visit to Italy with you. I was in Italy in 1991 but I was an escort for a tour group for the bank where I worked at the time. I loved the trip but I was responsible for my group of 40 people and always said I would love to go back sometime as “just a tourist.” Thank you for reminding me of this beautiful country and how blessed I am to at least have visited it once. You made me very happy today.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 10, 2020 @ 05:52:45

      I hope you can come back. It would be an entirely different experience. This is my fourth time in Italy but I was always with people before. This time I’m on my own and it is more fabulous than I even imagined.

      Like

      Reply

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