Monday, Monday - pizza, coffee and gelato

  • 30 April 2020
  • Prue Scott

Monday 4 May. That’s the day. THE most important day so far.

It will begin with purposeful walking into the centro storico and respecting the distance which now varies between 1 and 3 metres.

What are you having? Ooh, that looks, no wait, they’ve got funghi. Is two too many? Yes, but no one’s watching. Go on, your turn. Margherita per favor e funghi e, non, tutta.

Yes, pizza shops are reopening. There’s the modern, just down from Piazza San Michele, and then the old-timers like Da Felice, in a narrow, dark lane. Our modern people update the traditional and introduce the new; Da Felice offers their paper-thin wedges to be eaten at speed before they cool.

You don’t want to know about this, do you. No, I didn’t think so. It’s just pizza.

Actually, some of us haven’t had one damned slice of the stuff since we arrived more than 8 weeks ago. We are desperate. All this being confined at home has resulted in huge amounts of home cooking and some home-delivered meals….inside…at home….not out. We are Italian; we like to socialise.

We are required to not congregate near the shop. We must walk away or eat it at home. Like that’s going to happen.

Despite the limitations around coffee, you can get a decent one here and there. So, having shoved huge amounts of pizza into our mouths, we’ll then walk – respecting the distance – to a coffee shop. And go through the whole routine again. Una persona all volta. One person at a time. I note from that good Kiwi No 8 fencing wire ingenuity has come up with some wonderful ways around the distancing issue.

Given this is the land of the pizza paddle, I’m tempted to call the Mayor and suggest this would fit nicely into respect the distance.

Nicely loaded up with carbs, some fat and caffeine, we will now invade any one of a dozen gelateria in the vicinity. Yes, you can buy it in the supermarket in Styrofoam containers so it won’t melt before you get home; yes, you can get it home delivered, but, gelato is an experience, a social event; one needs to be outside eating it. Stracciatella. Nocciolata. Pistachio. In that order.

We will eat too much, say things like “I’ve eaten too much” and vow not to do it again, but we will secretly be very pleased we’ve done it. And then someone will say, slyly, “Well, you know the wall’s open” and off we will waddle.

Yes, the amazing wall around Lucca will be open to walkers (no cyclists) on Monday. We are gagging for our passeggiata and some of us for brisk walking to remove calories that have also joined us under lockdown. Why no cyclists? Apparently, they spit, and when biking at pace, they emit a stream of sweaty particles in their slipstream. Lucca’s dogs will be happy. An opportunity for lunging and barking, and watering everything in sight to restart the p-mail network.

We must respect the distance. The police – we have so many levels of them – will patrol to ensure we do. Reminds me of those old school dances and teachers with a ruler to ensure you and the callow, spotty youth in front of you are at least 12 inches apart.

Today (Thursday in Italy) was errand day. Buying a book for Book Club which is a Zoom event for the time being. Into Giuliana’s nice bookshop with both new and second-hand books. On the way, tractors with mowing arms, giving the walls a short back and sides. Outside the walls, men on low-slung ride-on mowers are barely visible behind the waving grass. It could be a wheat harvest – down to the earth on one side, tall grass on the other.

Onto the hopper bus with the Nonna trolley to Coop which now takes bookings for a time slot. So, we have a queue for those of us who must take a number, and a sort of rallying area where the people who’ve booked race their trolley engines, waiting for the flag to drop. Every time the man in uniform emerges through the sliding doors, we all surge….well, we take a synchronised step because surging still isn’t allowed.

No tarocco oranges! What? Surely, the season can’t be over? I bought ordinary oranges, but it won’t be the same. Consoled myself with large containers of raspberries and blueberries. And small, fat wild boar sausages to smother with Al Brown’s Habanero Mustard. Quality of asparagus not up to much. We’re drowning in eggplant, fennel and artichokes. The first nectarines and peaches were instore; let’s see if that match NZ’s for taste.

Monday is also the day when we’re allowed to travel around our own regions – in our case, Tuscany. Social distancing is required on public transport. Gloves must be worn. No mention so far of any other clothing, but it is getting warmer so shouldn’t be too bad.

The proclamation says one can visit one’s family but only up to the second cousin level. Anything beyond that is not family. I can imagine the indignant looks on some Italian faces over that one.

It seems we can’t roam around Tuscany; we’re limited to our own commune, i.e. Lucca. However, we can still walk along the river to Nozzano as a group, ready to fake it for the police (“Fancy seeing you here”).

A lot of shops won’t be open until May 11. Malls will remain shut; well, we’re not mall people, are we? No, we are not. Merchandise must be sanitised in certain establishments (clothes, shoes). No mention of sanitizing the buyers. Some of us are keen to get new walking shoes and sandals.

Our bars and restaurants may reopen on May 18 but only for takeout – and please respect the distance.

Hairdressers do not reopen until 1 June by which time we’ll all be rather desperate.

That’s our current window. After June, who knows?

Wanted in reports “At least three out of 10 Roman restaurants risk not reopening after Italy lifts its lockdown measures, according to a report by CNA, the national confederation of the craft sector and small-medium businesses. The outlook is even more bleak for the retail sector, with four out of 10 stores in the capital likely to stay closed according to estimates by CNA, as reported by Italian newspaper La Repubblica.”

Finally, I’m moving house at the end of May. My landlady won’t negotiate a reduction for June-August, saying she now has someone interested in renting it for at least six months. Fair enough. Interestingly, hopeful property owners are dropping their prices on AirBnB, some by up to €1000 a month, but there will be few takers.

I’m going to live in a friend’s apartment just outside the wall on the opposite side of the centro storico. No more washing because it’s ground floor with a courtyard garden. Might have to be time lapse of the coriander plant growing. Won’t that be fun.

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