A Good Lunch
On the Camino, Susie was told that the Italians cook like gods, so she's told everyone that her plan is to eat her way across Italy. Of course, I'm totally on board with that, as you might already have guessed. But, even in Italy, how do you get a great meal without breaking the bank?
You ask for “un buon pranzo” or A Good Lunch. Then the waiters (or more likely, the guy who runs or owns the restaurant, if you're dining with Lucy), will bring you their best plates until you can't eat any more. Basta!
In Italy (and many places in Europe), the trick is to eat a little bit for breakfast, maybe some coffee and pastry, and save your appetite for the main meal of the day, lunch. Italians treat their lunch like Americans do dinner. You take your time and have your three courses (antipasti – appetizer), primo piatto (first course – pasta), and secondo piatto (second course – meat).
Beverage of choice is wine, of course, with water on the side. In Italy, nobody drinks tap water. You'll need to order a big bottle of naturelle or frizzante (fizzy, like Perrier). It's not expensive; normally a big bottle of water is about half the price of a glass of wine. Finish it with a digestivo – our favorite is limoncello – lemon liqueur, preferably homemade.
At this little restaurant off the main road, we had all we could eat of the most excellent quality: squid with fennel, octopus in red sauce, little fried anchovies, the best liver and onions you ever had in your life, mini bruschettas, and other wonderful offerings with unlimited water and wine and limoncello for about $25 per person. Paired with the company of Celeste, Will, and Lucy, this will definitely rank as one of the best meals of all time. Plus, the owners gave Susie and I a nice bottle of their homemade limoncello for the road. What's better than that?
You know what makes a good lunch even better? An ayurvedic Sri Lankan massage from Geeth. This guy has an amazing story. In Sri Lanka, while he was studying architecture at the university, he was involved in a horrific accident where he was pronounced dead by the local doctors. Crazy with grief, his family contacted their last chance, an Ayuvedic master, who found Geeth in the morgue and using the most powerful healing techniques, brought him back to life. Geeth began to study Ayurveda and is in Italy today to make money for the Ayurvedic center he wants to open in his home country.
Lucy met Geeth through her neighbor Jenna, and will bring him up to her house where she and her friends will enjoy back-to-back massages and lunch, and she offered the experience to us. He only charges around $30 per hour. Let's just say that it was an incredibly relaxing experience and any jet lag that might have lingered has disappeared.
What a delicious day. First massage, then lunch. I got my Italian SIM card for cheaper calls within Italy ($25 for all the calls and text and data that I can use in two weeks), we took Will to the airport for his flight back to Okinawa, and we had a little sightseeing and gelato in Pozzuoli on the way back. Nobody was hungry when we got home at dinnertime, so Lucy and Maurizio ran some errands while Susie and I sat on the terrace and enjoyed our last sunset here. We finished the night with some Amarone (very very nice wine – a name that sounds like love, no?), a bit of cheese and a bit of prosciutto.
I'm beginning to feel the Italian in me emerge. Va bene.