Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So my aunt and uncle traveled for 24 hours to get here, then immediately jumped into sensory overload with our drive to Orvieto, taking in this pretty little town, doing an Underground Tour, seeing the amazing Civita di Bagnoregio, driving back to Rome, and then seeing most of historic Rome in one day. All three of us needed a day to have a little more rest and lighter activities. With the privacy shutters down, which completely blacks out the house, my aunt never did reach a point where she believed the alarm clock. We all slept very late, then took our time getting ready. About lunchtime, we opened up the garage door. Headed off to the Cumae ruins, detailed in the blog post Campi Flegrei,  we first stopped at our local Salumeria (meat, cheese, light groceries) to have lovely Gennaro make up some panini sandwiches.

Nathan and I love Gennaro. He mans his post morning and night (not afternoon - that's rest time), greets us with a chipper "Ciao, bella" or "Ciao, bello," depending on which of us he's greeting, and heads immediately behind his deli counter. He knows we're there for either prosciutto or cheese or both or paninis made of prosciutto and cheese. Rather than ordering amounts, we've taken to just ordering for a certain number of people. "Prosciutto for four, please." After he's cut off our little sample slice, we've appropriately tasted and yummed, then he continues cutting while we walk a couple of steps to the other sections, picking up drinks, wine, or cookies...or all three. The really funny thing, though, is that as meticulous as Gennaro is about weighing our purchase exactly - if it's not the exact number of grams he wants for us, he slices off that last slice to push the weight over - after all that, he seems to make up the price we'll pay for our purchase. The price can go up or down, depending on who's buying. For awhile, Nathan paid 15-18euro - everytime, no matter what he bought. I paid 12euro. Then my friends, Paige and Julia, arrived. This was their first trip to Naples, so the price went down to 10euros. Same with my aunt and uncle. Italians are crazy over their hospitality, so I think we were given a little "sconto" (discount) in their honor.

After all the slicing and picking and smelling and tasting, Gennaro hands us our package, thinks for a minute, then tells his assistant our price. The assistant is always one of two people, either a woman - wife? sister? - or a young man - son? nephew?. That person dutifully rings up the price on the register (very important here in Italy as business owners must pay appropriate taxes, both to the State and to the ummm...shall we say, Protectors), and we're on our way, shouting friendly ciaos and grazies the entire way out the door, then perhaps stopping at the nearby bar for a cuppa' before heading home. These visits to Gennaro are probably the single activity that most makes me feel at home here. I'm not Italian, and three years of living here will not give me the warm and fuzzies of belonging. But to have one person, one local, show me acceptance and friendliness...sometimes, just that one friendly face is enough.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post, and I love Gennaro, both for his excellent paninis, and for showing you acceptance in his crazy Italian world.