Mike and I have never been barflies and have never had a corner bar where "Everyone knows your name"....that is until now. Now, we have La Rinascita right down the street and, even if everyone doesn't know our name, everyone knows we are the "americani", and that we go down every morning for our cappuccino and to read the daily paper.
Adriana is the barista, and she gets there about 6 am every morning to open the bar and heat up the espresso machine. She stays until around 11 when her son Mateo comes to relieve her. They are open until around 12:30, then close for lunch, and reopen from 4 pm until 11 pm. Every day, Adriana is there, providing us with some fun conversation, pouring beers for the card players and putting up with their teasing.
Besides the regular daily visits for coffee, beer or a quick shot of brandy from the adults, the children in the neighborhood drop by at all hours to pick up an ice cream or a bag of chips or, their favorite, nutella with dipping sticks. Yum!
In the evening there is a gang that gathers to play cards. They play all sorts of games, from Scala a Quaranta to Scopa to TreSette. One thing is consistent: the yelling that goes along with every hand. If one were to take the yelling seriously, the police would be called at least once a night! But they accuse each other of cheating, curse the gods for their bad luck and then buy a round of beers for the table. It's all just part of the routine.
When a special occasion happens, a marriage, birthday or saint's day, the honoree usually provides some special treats for the evening gatherers. Last night, the son of one of the fellows got married, so there were cookies and pastries galore. When her granddaughter made her first communion, Adriana pulled out the grill and cooked up sausages and chops for the whole crowd. She also had a variety of peppers, eggplant, cheeses and salamis there to be sampled. Needless to say, everything was delicious.
It's so nice on evenings like that, sitting around this dinky little terrace, with a couple of wobbly plastic tables and lousy plastic forks, digging in to the local treats with gusto. We make all sorts of noise and no one complains, at least to us! As darkness settles in and the children get called to bed, the crowd disperses and everyone heads home to relax and enjoy an evening of TV, reading or just visiting quietly with neighbors, knowing that tomorrow La Rinascita will reawaken and provide our little corner of town with refreshments and entertainment. We finally have a place "where everybody knows our name"!