Sunday, July 17, 2011

Small Town Life

Villa Bartolomea. A one horse town. There are two pizzarias, one full-service restaurant, two bar / bakeries (who came up with that combo?!), a post office, a dumpy shoe store, a pharmacy, an elementary school with a large World War II memorial in front, a huge church, a community center which seems to only be open from 9p - midnight, and Cafe Teatro, the gelato / watering hole.

The villagers find us a curiosity. They are polite yet talk about us as we walk by. Last night, walking home from pizza pickup, I was treated to a parade. There were easily 300 villagers singing Ave Maria and escorting a float of an uplit, gilded Mary.

The residents mostly rely on their bikes for transportation, even during last week's heat wave. I saw a couple riding side-by-side holding hands - adorable! Jill, Wally and Dan, some of our friends who were here last week, are serious bikers and they rented serious bikes, exercise bikes.

The villa sits on the far end of the main drag, next to the Aidge River. This sounds more scenic than it is; the river is as wide as the Mississippi and from all indications, it is a dumping ground for the products of our bathrooms. I did ride a bike alongside it this morning and as long as I focused on the farms to the sides, it was a pretty ride.

The villa is huge and antiques filled. Most of it has incredible, hand-painted murals. You could stare at the ceilings forever. The oddities make the house fun: the kids play pool for hours on end, the kitchen is three rooms, the wifi only works in the library, formal dining room and billiards room, the front door is locked by a forged iron lever. The outlets are either two- or three-pronged. This is only a challenge when we are moving fans around at night but it is funny. We take standardization for granted. The house manager explained the workings of the villa to me in an hour-long briefing. I nearly lost it.

The original villa is 400 years old; the residence we are staying in is about 130 years old. The photos here were taken by Jill and Neeracha. There is a chapel adjoining the house and also stables on the property, which appear to be now used for storage.

Cafe Teatro is a fun spot. Monday night we enjoyed the local cover band. Their version of Hotel California had us in hysterics; they had about 70% of the words right. We sang along and it was another perfect moment. Again, the whole town seemed to be out: teens in packs, hunched-over elderly couples, young families, women with red hair, the shade that does not occur in nature.

Jill and Neeracha have been blogging, fortunately. I have been trying hard to limit my online time.


kv said...

dolce far niente!

thom singer said...

your description of the place is so clear I feel like I am there.