A Hot Tango With Heartthrob

It was an absolutely stellar morning.

After 880 stairsteps yesterday – that was the actual count – my body said, Please! Not again! So I gave myself a slow start, basked in rays on the terrace, did my nails.

But it was just too beautiful, and the forecast for tomorrow said rain. ‘Listen up, body.’ I had to be firm. ‘We’ve got to take advantage of this glorious sunshine. We’ll stay on flat road – no stairs – I promise.’

What a bare-faced lie! Simply getting out of my house and to the street requires 224 steps – 112 down and, upon return, 112 back up again. But I seemed to have forgotten that – was busy thinking about tiramisu and another chat with Piccoletto.

So off I went with a plan. First stop, Alimentari Ripoli gourmet grocery to buy a Valentine treat for tomorrow. Then tiramisu and coffee. Then to Angela’s shop to check the bus schedule. I’m strategizing for the winery tour. Angela sells bus tickets.

I’ve mentioned how sleepy Praiano is right now and how many places (most) are closed for the season. I’m also discovering that open ones tend to shut down for a few hours mid-afternoon.

The grocery store, even though its website said it was open, wasn’t. And Piccoletto’s cafe, come to find out, is closed on Thursdays. Today was Thursday.

Cafe Novanta Quattro of Americano coffee and croissant fame, was open. The drop-dead-gorgeous silver-haired owner, aka Heartthrob, remembered me with a huge smile and hearty Buongiorno! The cafe suddenly felt like family. I ordered my Americano then pointed to a miniature pie dusted with powdered sugar.

“What’s inside this one?”

“Cream vanilla and cherries,” he said.

“Yes, please.”

I’d forgotten customers at this order-at-the-counter establishment pay after the dining experience.

My host reminded me. “You sit. I bring.”

I scurried away, chose a table outside in the sun and took off my coat, it was that warm. The treat arrived.

I have many definitions of happiness, but an Americano and this cream cherry tart is the current one. Heartthrob caught me mid-orgasm. “It’s okay?” he asked.

“It’s magnifico! Where do you buy your pastries?”

“I make them, signora.”

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. My heart was dancing a hot tango, and not alone.

I savoured every morsel then sat for a while, daydreaming. A woman arrived. Young. Dark-haired. Gorgeous. She nodded, acknowledging my presence so I asked her if she spoke English. She shrugged. Poco, she said.

From a great distance in time and memory, the phrase, poco a poco, floated to mind. Somehow I knew it meant little by little. So…she could speak a little English. Encouraged, I asked if she lived in Praiano.

“No. Sorrento.”

“What do you do there? Do you have a job?”

“Ingenere,” she said. Uh-oh. That one was not rising to the surface. She saw my vacant look, murmured, “Un momento,” and grabbed her phone. In seconds she showed me the English: engineer.

I would have loved to know what kind of engineer, but just then a man joined her and staccato conversation commenced. I pulled on my coat and went to the counter to pay. “Grazie and caio,” I said, a woman of few words, few Italian words, that is. I’d used them all.

It was a gentle slope downhill to Angela’s shop. By then I’d decided it was time for another bottle of wine, white this time. Something crisp and tart. Two reds in a row are utter decadence.

There was her doorway and what do you suppose?


I turned around and went home, the steps weren’t that bad, waited two hours then tried again.


I found a white that looked intriguing then asked Angela about the bus schedule from Trimonte. You would have to have been there. It was one of those Abbott and Costello, Who’s on first, what’s on second type exchanges, partly because of the language. Correction. All because of the language. I got absolutely nowhere and left laughing, more confused than when I’d arrived.

Who cares if I end up in Trimonte, have a fabulous tour, taste spectacular wines, and there’s no bus back to Praiano? That’s all part of this extraordinary adventure, isn’t it.

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