Everyone was celebrating my birthday. That morning bagpipes skirled nearby. When I logged in on the computer, I noticed that Google had lit eight candles in my honor. Or maybe for Hanukkah. And just as I started making notes for this post, fireworks exploded in the vicolo Pietro del Pesce, right by our front steps.
I must be special.
Weather didn’t think I’m special, though. It was bitter out there for much of the day: pouring rain, howling wind off the Tyrrhenian, cold temperatures. I dodged out this morning for breakfast necessaries, as is my wont, and my dour friend at the market on via del Duomo said something about neve as I paid for my eggs and yogurt. Snow? Surely not.
We stayed home most of the morning. Reading. Blogging. Hanging out. We tried to find a decent pizza for lunch but ended up at one of the joints on Roma/SS18. But it was warm pizza and that was something.
After lunch, a bit of a walk. Wandered uphill to the Duomo and its marble crypt of many colors and patterns. The Pinacoteca Provinciale had a few curious paintings by obscure artists and no charge. I mentioned to the young folk welcoming us that in “free” museums in America there is often a box for donations. “Ah,” they said, “quite so.” But not here.
Back at Casa Futura Retrò I started to feel a bit out of sorts, slightly feverish, definitely chilled. Snuggled under the covers and finished my new book, Elizabeth Lett’s “The Eighty Dollar Champion.” There was supposed to be a film version, “Harry and Snowman,” released in 2016; if it was, I never noticed. Harry deLeyer, impoverished Dutch immigrant teaches riding at posh Knox School for girls and buys a horse for his stable-run-on-a-shoestring-budget. He acquires, in fact, an animal already in the van headed for the knackers. He liked the look in the eye of that flea-bitten gray gelding, a beat-up old cart horse. Improbably, Snowman, as he is named, turns out to be a natural jumper and becomes a champion and Harry rides to glory in Madison Square Garden—three times. The ending is mostly happy except that Snowman dies and somehow the marriage to Johanna, mother of his six children and indefatigable partner in life, ends. Curious about what happened to her.
For dinner we had decided on Vicolo delle Neve, the aptly name restaurant on the Street of Snow. Our walk there took us past a fabulous butcher. Made a mental note to come back. When we arrived at the restaurant, an older gentleman was trying to come in, the place looked dark and the cook/manager/whoever said we should come back in “quindici.” How many minutes is that? With the “quin” in front it sounded like fifty; later I realized it was fifteen.
Plan B was the other restaurant recommended by our host Vincenzo. Two strikes. Cicirinella was also not yet open. “Back to the butcher,” said I. “I am cooking my own birthday dinner.”
Even on so cold and damp a Thursday evening in January, the streets were packed with kids and families and even with group tours following their guides. Shops were open, barbers snipping away, tailors were pressing seams on what would be handsome garments. Salerno biorhythms rise in the morning fall in the afternoon, and spike in the early evening.
My biorhythms, however, had all but flattened. I bought a beautiful slab of beef and we headed for the Casa, where I knew we had some pasta, parmesan and some good red wine from the Enoteca Porta di Mare just across the street.
I am absolutely special when it’s my birthday.