Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ode to Regina

Regine and I made the most of our last weekend in Florence together. On Sunday she left to return to Germany. She has another 3 months of leave, which she plans to spend in a camper touring all over Italy. I will see her in August when she returns to Florence, and we will travel together to Verona for a night at the Opera.

On Friday evening, Regine and I celebrated her completion of school and the Degli test with dinner at Rifrullo. This restaurant located on the Oltrarno, is a beautiful rooftop garden, with a wonderful menu. Regine had visited here before and invited me as her guest for the evening. It was a lovely setting outside on a rooftop, very secluded in a garden. The last of the jasmine smelled sweet and wonderful and the breeze was cool. I had sesame seared tuna which was magnificent, and we shared a bottle of wine from Bramesole, the mansion in Cortona, made famous by the book and subsequent move of the same title. Under The Tuscan Sun.

Regine ordered the wine, but was not familiar with Bramesole. I found it interesting since the book Under The Tuscan Sun, which I read in 1996, had a profound influence on me at the time I read it, which continued until reaching my destination here in Florence. I read the book upon its release and Will was 14 and Nick was 10. We were living in Alexandria, VA. I wanted to sell our house, and travel with the children all over the world for a year. Reading the book was my first realization that you can have dreams, change your life and your future. That dream didn’t come true at the time, but I harbored it and nurtured it, and thought and planned, and waited, and waited, until finally, it happened.

Back on the subject.....the bottle of wine was a nice tie in to dreams come true, new relationships, new experiences, changing your future and being open to the possibilities. As a side note, it was vintage 2002 which recently Regine and I had been told was not a good year. Wrong! It was fabulous!

After dinner we walked to a nearby wine bar, called Fuori Porta, which translates to Outside the door, which it happens to be. The ancient city wall and the entrance lies a few feet away.
Saturday afternoon, we met unexpectedly in the Piazza and decided on dinner again, and then afterwards went to a concert in Piazza della Signoria. We visited the Slowly bar, but bored of it quickly with it’s undanceable techno music, and went in search of a disco. We found one that had few people over 21 in it, and left quickly, and another with no one in it. We finished the night at Colle Berreto with another bottle of wine, and discussions about opening an adult dance lounge in Firenze!

Sunday morning, Regine had to be out of her apartment early, and her flight was not until the afternoon. She checked out of her apartment and brought her things to mine to store. We had to make the long trek up the 52 stairs with her things, but once they were safe and sound, we headed out to "cats corner" to say good bye to the cats. At first we couldn’t find them. It was mid day and hot, so we thought they were hiding in the shade somewhere. Eventually we located them in the shade of the bridge. There were many birds and ducks around and while we were wondering why the cats did not try to get the baby ducks, a lady came with a can of cat food and threw it off the bridge, and down to the cats! This is the second person we have seen feeding the cats, so that must be why the birds are safe and the cats looking so smug, healthy, and happy.

We walked to San Lorenzo, but decided it was too hot for walking and we parked it in the piazza for prosecco and a light lunch, and then over to the Rinescenta, for more of the same. Eventually, it was time for Regine to head to the airport so we made our way back to my apartment, got her things, hailed a taxi at Santa Croce, and said our goodbyes.

This friendship made in a foreign land where and when I knew no one, is a very special one to me. To find someone with similar life experiences, outlooks, and opinions, half way around the world was a very pleasant surprise to me and a real gift. I have enjoyed sharing life experiences, cultures, languages, learnings about Italian life (and men), stories of our families and children, birds, cats, clothing, music, etc., etc.

I will see Regine in August and until then, will miss her greatly, but I know that we will remain friends and cherish our experiences and time together in Firenze for many years to come. Arriverderci, Regine. Ce vediamo Agosto!

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