because the walls of our five hundred year old apartment building are two feet thick and the shutters on our windows are so dense and well fitted that not a ray of light sneaks in, it is not surprising that we are sleeping later and later each day. it is almost as if we are sleeping off layers of los angeles exhaustion, but today, even we were shocked to discover that it was eleven o’clock when we finally opened our eyes. not only was it eleven o’clock, but it was pouring rain. we were expecting the rain as the very blonde, very buxom, italian weather lady kept threatening with lots of hand gestures the day before that there was a big soaker coming. though of course we didn’t understand a word she was saying, we did get the gist that it was something akin to fritz coleman and l.a. on “storm watch”. since we were prepared with bread, pecorino cheese, a half a pound of proscuitto, and some orange juice as well as a robert di niro and al pacino video (the fact that they are both italian was a pure coincidence. it had more to do with howard’s taste in movies. i wanted to see “priscilla, queen of the desert” but howard got the italian video man on his side and they both laughed me out of that). i figured, what with the pouring rain and all that, today was going to be the beginning of the end of the “magic time”. wrong.
after our breakfast we both jumped into the shower. it is the first time in forty-six years that we have had our own bathrooms (note to self for next house). after we were dressed i carefully went around the house turning off all the lights and making sure that no major appliances were running so that i could turn on the hair dryer. i got about half way through blowing my hair when poof, the electricity went out. well by now, i am sure you all know what that means. a call to the sad eyed rafaelli. we hated to call him on a sunday, in the pouring rain, but we really had no choice. he came over in five minutes accompanied, as always by the not quite right but oh so sweet bennadetto (i keep changing the spelling of her name because, i swear it is true, she does). rafaelli did something with the fuses, said something about the fact that howard and i shouldn’t have taken showers at the same time, or maybe even on the same day, i am not quite sure, but on monday he was going to bring our new best friend umberto, the electrician back to give us more juice. at least i think he said juice. after much hand shaking and multi grazie – ing they left and we prepared ourselves to go out in the rain. we were planning a visit to the lucca contemporary art museum. it seemed like a good day for an indoor activity, and since there are no cars or public transportation of any sort, we bundled up with raincoats, boots, hats and umbrellas. just as we were locking our apartment door ( you have to turn the key four times, counter-clock wise in the five hundred year old lock, in order to lock the door and four times in the opposite direction to unlock it. it gives off such a satisfying thunk each time you do it that we fight over who gets to lock and unlock the door. really, we are getting such pleasure from really simple things) we hear a woman behind us say, in perfect english, “good afternoon. i am anna, the ex-wife”. we gasped. this couldn’t get any better. since the first hour we had arrived we had heard about poor rafaelli’s troubles with the cancer in the stomach and poor, not quite right, bennadetto and of course crazy anna the ex-wife who divorced him but wouldn’t move out of the apartment and wouldn’t speak to him and here she was in the flesh, not crazy at all and speaking perfect english with a slight british accent. she was quite lovely and on her way to vote. she told us that she had studied in england and had some british blood. the plot thickens.
all this intrigue of course, made us hungry and so, having barely made it across our tiny square, we stopped into the little trattoria on the corner where we shared the most delicious, thick bowl of vegetable soup and a salad, just the thing for a rainy day. howard was convinced our waiter renaldo hated him because he had asked for oil and vinegar but by the end of the meal, renaldo was kissing my hand and hugging and kissing howard so profusely that howard was then convinced renaldo was gay. the rain had let up a bit and so we had a nice stroll, managing to get lost a bit through the winding streets, before making our way to the museum. as for the museum, let’s just say it is not a high point, but the fact that have a museum of contemporary art at all is heartening.
the last ten minutes of the walk home was in pouring rain but somehow, it didn’t seem to matter, not having cars splashing by and being properly dressed, passing lots of other people in rain gear and umbrellas, it all seemed perfectly natural to be walking in the rain. we got home and hung out for about and hour and then geared up again to go out. every night, 360 days a year, the little church in our square holds a puccini concert. some nights they feature other musicians as well, but it is always puccini. there was a pianist and two incredible female opera singers doing puccini arias in a de-sanctified church. the acoustics were amazing. after an hour concert, we had, once agin, worked up an appetite, so we walked to yet another adorable and delicious restaurant. we were home by ten and spent and hour or so skyping with the kids. what had started out to be, what i thought a depressing, rainy day, turned into yet another special memory.