When we first arrived, I posted about “ferie,” or the Italian summer vacation. Since almost everything was closed at that time, I forgot that most things are closed in any case from 1:00 until 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon for lunch. It is a stark contrast to both the fact that you can shop/run errands whenever you want, as well as the eat-at-your-desk or the grab-and-go lunches we’re used to in the States (or the “leisurely” 1 hour lunch when you can find the time). Along with ferie, this is another example of how I admire the culture and Italians’ ability to take real breaks (until it interferes with my getting things done, of course!).
So here’s my dilemma: I started back to Italian school this past week and it goes from 9:00 – 1:00. Hardly anything is open before 9:00 (I can grab a few things at Sant’ Ambrogio Market on the way, as people are getting set-up, but obviously nothing that needs refrigeration). At 1:00 Sant’ Ambrogio Market is starting to disband and all the good produce has been picked through. Everything else in town (except restaurants and the COOP) are closed at just the time I am in the part of town where anything I need would be. You really can’t accomplish anything during this time. (Well, I guess you can accomplish some things – I am writing this blog as Steve and I wait for the mattress store to open back up [it’s Saturday]). And, while I find this rather frustrating at times, it does make for a good excuse to have lunch! Fortunately, everything from cheap pizza stands to sit down restaurants are open for lunch.
Since Steve is working, that pretty much leaves me to my own devices. Luckily, when you go to Italian language school, you meet people from all over the world; some of them are just in town for the week, others for a month, and others (like me) are here indefinitely. Also, luckily, the kind of people you meet at language school are often like-minded and make excellent lunch (and apperativo, and dinner, and passeggiata) companions. This past week I shared lunches and gelato with a lovely psychologist from California (who speaks excellent Italian to boot).
One of my favorite places to have lunch is Caffe/Pasticceria Serafini. But since this place is so very special, I have decided not to discuss it here and give it its very own post (coming soon). Another cool discovery is this very eclectic gift store – Maestri di Fabbrica – they sell all kinds of fine local products (including great smelling bath stuff), but then as if by magic, from Wednesday to Saturday, they put out a great lunch spread (and dinner, though I haven’t been there then). For 7 euros you get a glass of wine and can help yourself to the buffet (there are many buffets in town, but it is an unwritten rule that you don’t treat them like a Vegas buffet and you eat whatever you take). We had the most delightful lunch here last week (and my companion found some gifts to bring back). I can’t imagine sitting down for 2.5 hours and having a glass of wine on any given weekday in the States (in part because everyone back home is way too busy to kill 2+ hours on lunch, and in part because there [unlike here] I’d have to drive home afterwards). Seeing how I love lunch and chatting away for hours, this is definitely part of the culture I see myself adapting to very quickly.
Only 1 hour left until the mattress store opens back up….