I can be, at times, a superficial person.
Sometimes, I like to stop at the appearances. For many years, I have been looking at Micheal Fassenbender and branded him my perfect match only because he looks perfect. Then, at times, miracles do happen. Life reminds me to jump. To walk beyond. To see beyond. To open that door. When you travel, Life disintegrates into endless possibilities of wonder and it reminds me how fantastic it is to be here, to be alive. While I was in Volterra, I placed my superficial self outside the Walls and I entered the “Caffè dei Fornelli” with my sweet friend, Ombrina.
It was not a case of Love At First Sight, no. From the outside, the place did not look like much. There was a veranda. Some chairs. Some guys, relaxing, smoking. Sometimes, Life is like that good school friend who would be helping you with small notes when you had no idea whatsoever of how to translate that Greek poem. Life pushes you: “C’mon, haven’t you realized it yet? Something magical might be happening soon here. Look carefully”. Thankfully, no teacher is around and the message gets to me on the First Day of a New Year when I get to the “Piazzetta dei Fornelli”.
Tuscany lies all around you when you stand on this small square. Smooth and immense. This is the place that makes Italians proud to be Italians, regardless. Yielding, but fierce. It looks like these Tuscan hills are hugging Volterra from up here, and they bring back a timeless memory: I am a kid, playing the water coming from the kitchen tub, I create waves from it. “I told you something was about to happen”, Life tells me. Like a perfect photographic set, sun is slowly descending onto the hills, leaving cypresses, casali and those four elderly ladies behind him. “Buon anno signore mie”. A few words, gently resting on strangers. Why did they teach us that this world is nothing but dangerous? Hope: this is going to be my new year resolution.
We jump then.
We enter the bar. A small room, some tables. “Are you still playing? “, Ombrina asks me pointing at the chess and draughts boards available for the customers. “Not anymore”, I would love to reply. We stop playing too soon. We look at each other and I know we share the same idea: we are not in this epoch anymore. From the book shelves around us, we pick a few magazines: they are old editions of the Corriere della Sera and other Italian newspapers from the Fifties onwards. We read about past editions of the Festival di Sanremo, of Italian singers like Tony Dallara, Mina, Piero Focaccia. Then, there are books, and sussidiari, those books our parents used while attending the scuole elementari. They learnt how to write in italics on these books. How to link letter “b” and letter “r”. They look like enormous tasks when you are small, don’t they?
“Don’t you move, girls. I will be like the Prophet Mohammed going to the Mountain”, says Carlo Bigazzi, the owner of this jewel. He gave us a glass of wine which is pure, red, magical. You never heard of its name, obviously not. Best secrets remain secret. I keep saying that I should write the names of special wines down but then I lose everything. They slip away like memories. Then, I notice that there are some very old photographs and postcards on the tables. I look at these words, in italics, from an age that is not here anymore. It feels like gently walking around a world that is disappearing against our I-Phones, Facebook, against blogs like mine.
Salvador Dalì used to paint fluid clocks. Einstein said that an ultracentenarian would be happy if he broke a mirror as it would give him some seven further years of unhappiness to face. Virgil deemed it irretrievable. In this bar, though, it appears that Time can be stopped. Carlo managed a small miracle. At least for a short while.
If you want to learn more about the “Caffè dei Fornelli”, please visit: http://www.caffedeifornelli.it/