A night at Paolo’s


We spent half a day in the studio and half a day helping Jacob paint rooms and strip layers of linoleum and carpet, all glued down, from a beautiful 19th century tiled terrazzo floor. The old lady has left her apartment, too old now and unwell, to care for herself. Our apartment is ours again and Jake and Jaqui are going to take it over for a year until they can buy their own little dream in the mountains. In the meantime, there are layers of fashions to dismantle, curtains and kitchen tiles, wallpaper, polystyrene tiles in the bathroom, plastic furniture to find homes for, old tvs and cushions. Mama mia. But with each uncovering, is another beauty to find and it has been a process of joy and amazement for us all, as slowly but surely the value on our lovely property has exceeded itself.

We were so tired. It was a huge day and the 110% never seemed to end. Scraping off all that awful glue from the tiles, slowly revealing the magnificent designs, pushing on to finish it just to see the end result, was a madness that made us fall at the end of the day into a heap, throwing on pasta, simply to fill the empty stomach. 10.00 and already Michael was softly snoring on top of the covers when the phone rang from Jaqui urging us to stir ourselves for the festa at the bar – a party for one of the Brazilian bar maids whose birthday it was.

Paolo’s bar is really something. Every time I get to think that maybe Bagni di Lucca is a bit provincial and surely I can’t spend the rest of my life here, I walk into Paolo’s bar and something happens. Last night was great. We were going for half an hour to show our faces and creep back into bed. But the girls from Brazil were there and the place was rocking. How fast can a body move? I can’t imagine that there are so many muscles to move in a body but I see it every time with these girls. And the Italians. So many gorgeous girls in their 30’s and early 40’s, restored to sexy vamps in short black dresses with heaps of diamantes, plump and luscious, fondling each other in the sisterhood, spinning out occasionally into dance moves to make Travolta die for, boys up to their seventies extravagantly attentive and elegant, whisking lovely things into twirls and tangos … all of us rocking there in sympatico, joyous with the music and the wonderful comraderie, all of us in love with each other. And I do love this place with the people who come down from the mountains to free themselves from their lives of toil. I feel so fond of these people who without language have accepted us and allowed us to come and play with them.

1 Comment

  1. Diane Pieri Kosmalski says:

    Dear Michael & Shona,

    So enjoy reading your blog. Not sure how I stumbled upon it but as we are starting once again to “think” Italia and our return to La Pieve, your beautiful stories help to get us in the appropriate frame of mind.
    We will return for our summer sojourn in early July and thankfully will stay most of August. Looking forward to “coming home.” I was born here in US but my trips to Italy as a child and especially as a teenager will forever be an important part of me. In case you don’t know who the heck I am, you probably remember my father, Jerry Pieri. Although he was one of those who immigrated post WWII, his love of Italy and it’s people never waivered and he managed to impart that love to me by spending many wonderful summers traveling throughout Italy but especially showing me the “real” Italy in those hills during very different times. Things have certainly progressed on a large scale from the 60s.
    Bar Italia, under previous ownership, was my favorite haunt as a teenager. Many great times come to mind but those stories are for another time! 🙂
    Congratulations and best wishes on the marriage of your son. Hope to be able to say hello very soon.

    Diane & Peter Kosmalski

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