Whiskey, the singing dog of Praiano

There’s an unassuming little ceramics shop in Praiano called La Bacheca. I was told it would be open from 10:30 to 1:00 today. And by the way, my friend in Florida texted, they speak English.

At this point in my communication-starved state, that’s all the reason I needed to stop by.

After yesterday’s wind and rain, the warm sun was a welcome companion as I strolled Via Roma through the tunnel to the San Gennaro side of Praiano. It really is like two separate towns. People have asked me, Are you staying on the San Luca side or the San Gennaro side? referring to the two major churches. I’m on the San Luca side.

As usual, I was staring at the ever-changing sea and almost missed the shop across the road. When I twisted the handle to enter nothing happened. I peered through the glass and was about to leave when the door swung wide. Buongiorno, the woman said.

“I’m sorry, are you closed?” No, the shop was open, but it was immediately apparent that this person did not speak English. I made apologies for my lack of language skills with my one Italian sentence, Mi dispiace non parlo Italiano, and stepped inside to drool over the merchandise.

I’d made two full circuits of the store and collected a small pile of must-have items on the counter when a gorgeous young woman walked in. Buongiorno, she said. A minute later the door opened again and a second beauty entered. There was a flurry of Italian, then their attention turned to me. They both spoke beautiful English.

The questions began. Where was I from? How long had I been in Praiano? Where was I staying? When it was my turn I found out that Carmela and Lucia were sisters and the woman who had let me into the shop was their mother, Anna. By this time a bottle of limoncello had come out of the back room and a shot was poured.

“Mmm, delicious,” I purred.

“It’s made here in Praiano. Have you been to the factory?” I had not. “Do you like Bailey’s?” Strange question, I thought. Limoncello was nothing like Baileys.

“I do, yes.”

“Then you must try this.” Another bottle appeared. It’s contents had a greenish tinge. “Creme di Pistacchio,” she said. “It tastes like Bailey’s.” She poured. She was right – like Bailey’s but a thousand times better.

“Carmella, it’s a good thing I didn’t know about this a month ago!”

“Here,” she tilted the bottle toward my cup. “Have some more.”

I laughed and told her no thank you, that I’d be too drunk to walk home. That’s when she offered to have her father give me a ride. How do you not fall in love with these people?

I was able to convince them that I enjoyed walking and needed the exercise. By then my items had been professionally wrapped.

I paid and was about to leave when a little dog walked up and sniffed me. “Oh!” Carmella said. “Whiskey wants to sing Volare for you.” And so Whiskey did.

I’d be hard pressed to choose the highlight of this trip. Amazement has greeted me at every turn. But I’ve never before been served fancy liqueurs in a ceramics shop, nor have I been serenaded by a dog. Thank you, Carmela and Whiskey. Today was very, very special.

*Note: if the video doesn’t work, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/MpAn-TIPxQQ

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