I was very happy to be visiting the market at Fivizzano, as it gave the chance to buy presents to take home to the family. I was hoping to find some of the delicious ‘bresaola’ we were served for dinner as antipasti back at The Watermill the previous night. I walked past several stalls of tempting linen clothing, where some of our group, now renamed by me as the ‘Linen Ladies of Lunigiana’, came away with bags of cool, colourful summer frocks. Over on the far side of the square, I found ‘The Salumi della Tana’ stall, run by what appeared to be three brothers. Maybe they weren’t brothers at all, but I liked to think they were, and feel it adds something to my story.
What is it about Italian men that makes them so darn good looking? As I write this, I realise I didn’t take any photos of the guys in question. I was far too shy for that! You will have to rely on my description and story to build up a picture in your own mind’s eye.
The three brothers were stood behind the counter of their smart trailer in ascending ages, from the shy, skinny youngster, to the more confident tanned and muscular older brothers. I do doubt their blood relationship to each other as one had deep dark brown eyes, and the other, eyes of piercing blue. Tight t-shirts and tight jeans added to the allure, and smiles that twinkled and made this old lady quite flustered!
Salamis of varying widths and lengths hung from the ceiling of the van. Whilst on the counter, cheeses, hard skinned and soft, full moons and half-moons, some with Tom and Jerry like holes, mature and ripe were tempting my taste buds. Cured meats, and a sign advertising the bresaola which was on offer, sent me scurrying for my phone to look up the Italian I needed. I was not going to speak English, that was one thing I was sure of!
With the help of Google translate, I looked up how to say two hundred and fifty grammes, and stood back nervously, feeling so much the tourist, while I practiced the phrase over and over in my head. I listened as the sound of Italian being spoken by the locals rang out, voices rising and falling with such a fast tempo that was impossible to understand, but with a musical, melodic sound. I wished I’d worked harder on my Duolingo, but had got frustrated with it. After all, when would you need to say that the man was in the sugar for goodness sake?
It was my turn, and the guy with the piercing blue eyes was looking right at me. ‘Si?’ he said with a smile that lit up his whole face, then said something I didn’t understand. I smiled back, a little flirtatiously if I admit, and stammered: ‘ duecentocinquanta grammes de bresaola, per favour.’ My man smiled again, repeated what I’d said and went off to slice the meat. I’d done it! He understood!
‘Gracie’ I say, and he then hands me a slither of cheese to try. I pop the creamy morsel into my mouth ‘Moy buen’ I say. Bugger! I curse under my breath, that was Spanish! There’s me trying to look all cool, sophisticated and Italian! A quick fumble with my phone and with the help of Google translate, I say ‘Molte buono!’ Phew!
Now for the dried porcini mushrooms and some cheese. Trouble is, I didn’t have time to look up any other numbers, so you guessed it, I got ‘duecentocinquanta grammes’ of cheese and mushrooms. I did manage to ask for ‘Pecorini viejo’ (mature Pecorino) but only as I’d overheard him say it before. I did, however, get rather a lot of mushrooms for two hundred and fifty grammes! Back in the Bronzino bedroom, these needed to be double wrapped as they had rather a pungent pong. Fortunately, there was a fridge in the communal kitchen at the Watermill where I could keep my meat and cheese.
These were to be presents for the family, and along with a jar of locally made pesto, and a bag of pasta, I had the makings of an Italian meal that would remind me of my wonderful stay in Italy, but more importantly, of the men from the Salumi Della Tana in Fivizzano.
I said my ‘arrive dercis’ and turned away from the stall. I looked up as the ancient bell tower rang out the hour, and I felt the hot sun hit my face from a cloudless cobalt blue sky. Oh, if only shopping in Hexham market was this good!