Tales of a wandering lesbian


The people I’ve met are fantastic. Simply fantastic. It can be difficult convincing them that I’m alright. Yes, I’ve had enough to eat. Yes, I’m happy. No, we don’t need to plan an elaborate day. I’m more than happy to tag along and do whatever they are doing. Really. Here’s why:

During practically every experience I’ve had in Italy, every time something has fallen-through I have ended up having amazing, beautiful, sometimes life-changing experiences. Today, my weekend hostesses, Franca, Giovanna and Vittoria wanted to take me to the sea, but when we woke up it was raining something fierce. Change of plans. So, we went to the bookstore to find a book for Gio. They didn’t have what she was looking for, so another change of plans. We wandered the streets a little, and ended up at an amazing gallery tucked away next to a church. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if it wasn’t for Giovanna pointing it out. After Giovanna talked with the owner a bit, he escorted us from the front galleries into the labyrinthine back galleries where some of the more interesting installations were.

One was a sculptural piece that involved a hunk of raw marble – one that had been blasted out of the side of the mountain. The artist took the raw piece and set out to carve a copy. Very, very interesting – and well executed.

Marble art

The place was strange, barely finished, and vaguely reminiscent of a hospital or psych ward from a horror movie, with red painted cement floors and broken black and white tiles adorning the walls in places (although that might have been a sculptural installation now that I think about it). As we wound through the galleries, the sound of dance music got louder. “Push it, push it real good!” ran in a loop. I started to wonder if someone was working with a boom box in a back room, or if the Gio and I were about to meet an untimely end.

When we reached the final room, it was dark. We found a projector sending an image of a middle-aged woman in a brightly colored moo-moo shaking her life-sized money maker.

We chortled a little as the gallery owner explained that the project gave 3 minutes to various people to dance for the camera. He told us to sit and left us. We perched ourselves on a chaise that was against the wall opposite the screen and sat back. First one than another interesting characters came on the screen – a fairly normal looking man, a hippy dude complete with a VW bus and huge beard, and a man in a very proper suit. It became clear after about the third person that they were all being instructed from somewhere off-camera to do the steps they were doing. Waive your arms like this then step to the left. Point to your crotch and swing your hips to the music. Now slap your ass and turn around.

Push it video

As we watched the entire loop of maybe six people, I became more and more engrossed. What seemed a funny, almost silly installation became really quite powerful. This dance, executed by so many different people showed their insecurities, their individualities, and their beauty. By the end of their three minutes, each person was panting, and each person was smiling. Even those who seemed most unlikely to enjoy the experience got into it.

Push it flyer

Check out the artist. She was really great, and by the sound of it has some equally interesting ideas for new projects.

After more time looking and talking with the gallery owner about our fantastic artist-friends Deb and Sandra, we cruised past some of the churches in the area and headed back to the flat.

Lunch brought an excellent pumpkin risotto and turnip greens (we had to go online to see what the English was for turnip).

Zucca Rissoto Turnip greens

For the afternoon excitement, we talked about going to a movie, which was mildly interesting, but just as I was falling asleep on the sofa, Giovanna pulled out a double-deck of cards.

Over lunch, Franca and Vittoria were talking about a card game, Burraco. They said it was fun, but difficult to explain. Not one to miss out on a good game, I jumped up from the sofa to see what Giovanna had in mind. “Burraco!” “Will you teach me?” They all looked at me. “You want to learn?”

And it was on.

For the next two or three hours we played, Franca and I versus Gio and Vito. The ladies patiently taught me the rules, and we exchanged more vocabulary words as we played. They laughed when I shuffled, “Las Vegas” they chuckled. There was a lot of chuckling. Well, at least until I started winning. (I’m sorry, I just can’t give up trash-talking. I’ve tried, and I’m not sure I can live without it, so there it is. Franca and I won, twice. Sure, Gio changed the winning point amount so we could keep playing, but when it was all said and done, Franca and I won, won, won. Both times. Brava, Franca. Brava.)

It turns out that playing cards is a fantastic way to learn numbers as well as slang. I am now fairly confident in my ability to trash-talk in Italian. Deb and Sandra will be so proud.


Time for the movie came and went, and dinner was prepared in between hands of Burraco. We had a beautiful soup made with broccoli, potatoes and pasta. This was seriously delicious. I’ll ask for the recipe tomorrow, so hold tight and I’ll try to translate and post it.


We also had a selection of cheeses (always) which included a garfagnana specialty cheese topped with faro. This was good. I mean, really good. I’m going to try to find and bring some home, because it was on par with the Rogue Bleu that’s made by Rogue Creamery in Oregon – the cheese that’s wrapped in brandy soaked pinot noir leaves and stored in a cave. Only, it was had in Lucca with friends, so it might even be better.

I’m sure the sea would have been lovely, too, but for today I’m very happy to have learned slang over a game of Burraco!

Bookmark and Share

November 9, 2009   4 Comments