Monday, 1 July 2013

Federica's menagerie - One memorable encounter a day

The thing I like about travel is the surprises. If I have one memorable encounter a day. I'm over the moon.

Its a pretty high aspiration but I am on target this trip.

Let me list the highlights:
Orsago - The Post Office incident (and many others)
Treviso - The St Ursula frescoes
Verona - The Paul McCartney concert in the Roman Arena
Bergamo - Marcos 200 year old family apartment
Torino - Federica
Ventimiglia - The drinking game at the bar in the old city
Marseille - Discovering the Hospice de La Charite (Thanks Bertrand)

Federica lives atop a five story apartment building in the centre of Torina, a block from the Piazza Maria Vittoria the largest piazza in the city. Federica lived here with her mother for many years until she sadly passed away. She bubbles and fizzes like the Italians of my imagination. She welcomes me generously offering me anything in her fridge, gives me some good tips for my one day in her city and then offers to cook for me that evening. She loves cooking and she loves company, but this offer is extraordinary. I have merely rented a room from her for the night at rock-bottom price. This is not part of the bargain I expected.

She has two guests staying and the other young man is rather reclusive, only emerging from his room to enter and leave the apartment. Me, I am up for a good chat.  When she has two guests she sleeps in the living room on the couch with her two cats and giant dog. The other member of the family, a guinea pig stays in the bathroom. Federica is doing it tough. The economy is not good, jobs are scarce, she senses that she needs to shift gear. To begin a new project in her life. She tells me she is waiting for a call to confirm her acceptance into a full time chef school.

But I must pause and introduce the family. Dea (God - not an intentional piece of dyslexic naming I'm pretty certain) is a 13 year old lady who continues to enjoy a good life despite a large tumour which Federica has determined to leave take its course - any medical intervention would mean the loss of its leg and, as Federica says, I can't have a three legged dog in a fifth story apartment. Next are the cats. Wilson  is a very large cat, puma size. Vincent (after Van Gogh), a small black ball of fluff. Frankie is the black and white guinea pig. When you come to Federica's place you come for the full experience.



I go for a walk and four hours later return to find Federica in high spirits. She has been accepted into her course and starts tomorrow. Talk about short notice! I buy a bottle of vino rosso and we eat spaghetti carbonara and a vegeterian bean dish on the terrace and chat. She is concerned about how she will survive for the next 12 months as the course is 8 hours a day and is hands on. She will need to get a job that fits her schedule. Her Air B&B room will supplement her income but is not sufficient. I also find out that she will turn 29 on July 2nd - a few days away.

It's pretty obvious she has charmed me stupid. I want to adopt her and take her home. My paternal instincts make me want to save her but she is quite capable of saving herself. Sometimes a day can be a long time in one's life. This is one of them.

She leaves before me the next morning, dressed to kill. I take some photos. She says it feels like the first day of school - photos and all. Before I go I buy another bottle of wine and leave it as a birthday present.

May your life be full and incredible Federica. If you come to Australia there is a room in my house, a cat and a kitchen in which I will cook for you.
Federica ready for her first day at "school"
Federica in her kitchen

1 comment:

Queen of the Tea Cosies said...

Aww shucks Steve. Noice.