Monday, October 1, 2012

What a difference a year makes

I'm now in the process of renewing my "permit to stay" (think green card) in Italy, which means that I have been here - more or less - for a year.  It seems sometimes like it flew by, and other times, like this week for example, like a lifetime.

This week, Manu rode my new bike into the other part of town to find a waiter who never showed up for his shift.  I was in the Cantina, working alone and running around when the sweet woman who cleans the restaurant came inside and said quietly and in calm tone that is never positive, "Cri, come quick - something happened to Manuel".  Not this too.

I ran to the street where he was writhing in pain, rolling around in a pool of blood.  My bike fell down a few weeks ago in the wind (though I still think the taxi man hit it, but that is another story) and the light on the back shattered.  Not seeing it, when Manu hopped off the bike, it slashed his leg under the knee leaving a very deep laceration.  In a stroke of luck, our wonderful town doctor, Dr. Vittone, who rides a bike, does yoga and makes house calls, rode by at that exact moment, and was able to stop the bleeding and stitch poor Manu up.  A trip to the hospital in La Spezia revealed no serious nerve damage, but we are again, literally, one man down at work.

A few hours later, a woman came to the Cantina and started yelling at me over nothing important - that she didn't like me, that I wasn't "American" enough, that I was stupid - all while I tried to keep my cool and ask her politely to speak to me in a respectful tone, as I was speaking to her.  I actually laughed at first, because the situation was like a hidden camera show.  It's one of the strangest things about the restaurant industry, when you have to deal with people who literally just want  to yell and make your life miserable, and try to keep your cool while responding normally.  I finally asked her to leave several times, as she started to get very threatening towards me, and started to get closer - and even physically tried to enter the kitchen.  After threatening to call the police, she finally left, but it left me more shaken then I was already.  Regardless of the situation, getting called "stupid" and so forth is never fun.  Sometimes understanding English has it's downfalls.
This week, as you can gather, is an example of one that felt like a lifetime.

So, winding down this eventful past 6 days, I'm renewing my permit to stay another year and we are entering our last month of work.  It's hard to believe the season is ending, but I'm thankful it's ending with the guests we have.  Happy, always easygoing northern Europeans (if I had a choice, I would come back to life as a happy woman from Norway on vacation with her 15 friends), Americans enjoying the off season, Italians avoiding crowds, and other Europeans who enjoy hiking and the view, even if it's spoiled by a little wet weather.

It's nice to meet people who smile in the rain, who reason "it's still vacation", shrug, and happily drink a glass of wine.  It's an attitude in certain people I've learned to appreciate deeply this year, and thanks to guests like this, the past few nights in an otherwise nightmare week have flown by.

Like this whole year, it's a mix of the two  - dragging, muddy nightmares and sunny days that fly by.  I guess that is life, wherever you live in the world.


  1. I hope Manu is healing quickly and I hope that visits from the likes of that woman who verbally attacked you are rare or never occur again. Your stories are wonderful and I enjoy your posts about your transition to living your life in Monterossa. Best of luck to you and maybe someday this New Jersey girl (hardly, I'm 60) gets to visit you someday.

  2. Hi Christina, oh wow I would never expect you or any of your staff to have to go through that with anyone, you guy's are the most amazing people with great service and amazing food, i am so glad you can focus on all the nice people and the Blessing's they bring, she must be one very sad lady who needs to stop and take a breath of Cinque Terre Air.
    you and the Team do an amazing job and I tell eveyone about you and the Cantina. may you enjoy the Blue's of the ocian and the time off to recover for you year ahead. full of great adventuers and many great memories.