Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 155: A saint, the mafia and a bowl of cherries

Priano, the town where I'm staying on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, has a patron saint called San Luca Evangelista, protector of the artists:

San Luca Evangelista

Well that's good to know. This year of doing a blog about the artistic life could use a little spiritual boost. So, I decided to zip into a church and say a few prayers. (Plus, I had to do my penance from my confession at the Vatican... I didn't get around to it because I was busy sneaking around the Vatican with Claudio.) 

While I was in church praying, Aine was making friends with a local lad named Giovanni.* He had asked her to meet him and his friends for drinks that night.

Positano was the meeting place. First, Aine and I went for dinner at Buca di Bacco on the beach of Positano. Here's a travel tip: If you like a restaurant in Italy, go twice. The first time you're treated nicely. The second time you really are treated like family, just like they say in Olive Garden commercials.

The chef, we learned, was one of the most celebrated chefs of the region. He... well, I can't even begin... everything was... incredible isn't even a good enough word. Stupendous doesn't begin to describe it. His food tasted like... like the entire Italian language... a feast for the tongue.

Photo courtesy of the site.

On our second trip to the restaurant, the waiters swarmed us and invited us to meet the chef, which of course, we did. Then they invited us out for drinks later, but we had to inform them that we were meeting another group at the bar below the restaurant.


We weren't sure what that meant, but we were soon to find out.

We met up with our group of new friends at the bar below. Now, here's what I noticed: I believe this group of Italian boys had harvested English girls throughout the day (of which Aine and I were two) to go out with at night. We didn't mind though. It was nice to meet the other English girls. The presecco was flowing and there were English and Italian words bouncing all over the place. When the restaurant above closed, the chef and waitstaff came down to meet us. (Hence the perfetto!) It seems all the people in the town know each other and appear to be wise to this harvesting of ladies ritual.

Each boy appeared to pair himself off with a girl. The boy who chose me was Enrico.* (I must note, this harvesting and choosing of ladies was all quite fluid. I only became wise to this days later. In the moment, it was just fun good times with the locals.) I suspect this ritual happens every week with a new set of English girls, but with us they were fiercely loyal—at least for the evening. I felt like my Italian stallion had eyes for no other girl. And I felt like the prettiest girl in the room.

At one point, a boy brought over a martini glass of maraschino cherries for one of the girls. Enrico asked if I would like some. I told him I don't like maraschino cherries. I prefer fresh cherries.


In moments I had a platter of fresh cherries before me.

"For you."

Aw shucks. Then he proceeded to hand me cherry after cherry and watch me eat my cherries with such intensity that I felt like a porn star.

The guys at the table kept calling him the Fruit Mafia. Later, I asked him why this was. He said he was a fruit distributor for the Amalfi Coast. Then he became dead serious, looked straight into my eyes and said, "Mafia are good people. They take care of their family."

Oooookeeeyyyy doooookkkeeeyyyy.

I'm not sure who I'm dealing with here but whatever, I'm having fun.

Over the course of the next few days, whenever  I was with Enrico, he presented a platter of fresh picked cherries, always with...

"For you."

Kinda sexy, erotic and sweet all at the same time. And a little bit scary because as I observed him and his friend talk about their Ferraris, motorcycles and lavish lifestyles, I don't think they were joking about the mafia thing.

One night after yet another platter of cherries, he whispered to me, "You come back in September. You don't have to do anything... but you have to be my woman."

Sheesh! We just met. How much are these cherries?

That could be both a lavish and scary possibility. He pays for everything, I write my books and blogs, I am surrounded with fruit... and guns.

I'm afraid I won't be dropping my life for platters of cherries just yet. I mean, we aren't even Facebook friends.

On our final night together, he put Aine and I in a taxi to head back to the hotel. When we got to the hotel, our driver informed us that we would not be paying.

"Enrico's girls don't pay."

Ah shucks. Thanks Enrico. In my mind, I heard him say...

"For you."

*Names changed. We do not want to ever have to enter the Witness Protection Program.


  1. Great blog entry! I love the title! I love exclaiming! Would make a good book-title-of the day. Much better than my book-title-of the day, Shit Diaper on a Picnic Table. Ah, I miss Rome too.

  2. This post made me laugh out loud. What is it about Italian men. So charming, so attentive. You have captured their essence.

    Looking forward to your next post!

  3. You are a total crack up. Who knew that mafia men used fruit to seduce their women?

  4. Oh Janice I love many things about this blog. One of my favorite lines is about the food that tastes like the Italian language. Now that is a million dollar line.


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