Street of Dreams

Bread BackgroundI raised my head from my pillow. Outside the window I heard the street coming to life. I turned my head to see Donna’s smiling face. “Lets go get some coffee.”

We bolted the door behind us, leaving three snoozers to continue snoozing. The sun was beginning to drench everything in site, promising a warm day ahead. An early wave of tour busses had arrived in town as evidenced by groups huddled together. We decided to go anyplace they weren’t which landed us in a magical place. Both sides of this narrow street were abundant with bakeries, meat markets, wine shops, and best of all – locals. Only a handful of places were open at this hour and most of the activity was coming from a small café. A newsstand set up just outside had a freshly printed stack of the Herald Tribune. I bought one and tucked it under my arm. Warm air met us inside the café along with marvelous sweet and savory aromas. A display case was jammed with pastries and sandwiches. People stood at a marble counter. A big man wearing a black vest looked up and greeted us. We sat down at an open table and within moments a smiling waitress approached us. We’d noticed that Italians enjoy milk drinks like cappuccino only at breakfast time. They also like to down shots of espresso. We wanted a drink to linger over, so each ordered a Café Americano – an espresso shot at the bottom of a medium-sized cup served along side a small pitcher of hot water. We stirred our drinks and watched people come and go. None of them stayed more than ten minutes – they’d gulp the contents of their tiny cups like Clint Eastwood downing whisky, power chatting with the staff, or people behind them, then bid farewell. It was entertaining, I never opened my paper.

Back on the sidewalk, we followed the mesmerizing aroma of baked bread to a shop offering piles of rolls, croissants, biscotti, scones and more. The bread came in different shapes and sizes – all dense and heavy. The young man behind the counter looked like Fabio. As we picked out breakfast for the kids, something caught my eye – a yard of focaccia. I’d never seen this flat bread presented in bulk like this. Fabio placed it on the wood counter and grabbed a serrated knife which he hovered about ten inches away from one edge. “More.” I instructed, he moved his knife  down another five inches. I gave him the thumbs up. “Pizza tonight?” Donna took all of three seconds to agree.

At a small grocery, we bought a tub of mozzarella balls, fresh tomatoes, and arugula. We passed a wine shop where the owner stood outside scribbling something across a chalk board. We stopped to watch and he invited us inside. I asked him about local wines.  “Chianti Classico” he said proudly. I thought of the straw wrapped bottle with the extra long neck my grandfather – donning a lighted tie – poured each Christmas Eve. Detecting my cynicism, the man explained that Italian Chianti is the pride of the Tuscan region and rivals the finest wines of France. He pointed at a rooster on the paper collar wrapped around the neck of the bottle, then kissed the tips of his fingers. “Primo!

We could have explored this street of dreams all morning, but decided to deliver the kids their breakfast while the bag was still warm.

NEXT:  Jogging Around the Issue

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