Flight arrived on time, luggage popped onto the conveyor promptly, and as the train station is across the way from the terminal, I was soon on my way to Roma Termini, the main railway station. Easyjet try to sell bus tickets on the flight for 6 euros saying that it is cheaper than the train. It is. The train, the Leonardo Express, costs 14 euros but it is right there, direct, clean, faster (no Roman traffic jams) and arrives inside the station from whence all other trains depart! This is good news, as I had bought my ticket on-line in the UK and so did not have to find the ticket office and struggle through the concourse with bags. Goodness knows where the bus arrives and even if it is right outside the station, a longer journey, getting off, claiming baggage and finding the platforms is worth avoiding. Maybe I am biased because of Victoria coach station which I loathe.
Train journey took about an hour and a half. Jamie and Daisy were right there, ready and waiting with hugs and kisses. And Jamie was quite pleased to see me too.
We had to get back to Citta pronto, as we had pre-booked tickets for the theatre that evening. Just enough time to freshen up have a quick meal at New Castle (grilled chicken and tomato salad) before strolling over the road to the theatre. We needn’t have worried too much though as productions usually run half an hour later than the publicised time.
This was to be a true farce, Italian style, with people running in and out of doors, being hit on the head with frying pans, wearing disguises and of course the happiest of happy endings. The story centred around a Sicilian restaurant on the outskirts of Milan run by Tony and assisted by his faithful waitress Maria. Tony has run the restaurant for years, proudly serving traditional Sicilian food to an ever-dwindling number of customers, mainly trendy young office workers who are not attracted to the fishing nets, rustic tablecloths and delicious but rather substantial menu.
The embittered Tony (his wife ran off with his accountant) admits to Maria over several glasses of Zibibbo (a fortified Sicilian dessert wine) that he is deeply in debt to the bank and is thinking of approaching money lenders… Maria is horrified and tries to suggest that he changes the restaurant style and menu to attract more customers. But proud Sicilian that he is, Tony refuses. Enter stage right his son Calogero, a young man very trendily dressed, moaning because his dad hasn’t paid his university fees. Maria explains to the spoilt son that his father is broke and that his fine art studies have to continue in a public university rather than the smart one he currently attends. Enter now his classy girlfriend who has been waiting for him outside. She wants to know what he is doing and is shocked to discover her trendy boyfriend is from Sicily, not called Carlos, his father owns a lowly trattoria and that the stories she has been told were all inventions just to impress her. She has a tantrum and Maria hits her over the head with a tray to calm her and knocks her out.
Calogero and Maria come up with a plan to drag the restaurant into becoming a trendy fusion eatery that modern Milanese would want to use. The trendy thing being Japanese food but they intend to serve similar Sicilian dishes, calling them by Japanese names, and presenting them in a Japanese-style ambience complete with Maria in a geisha outfit. It could just work.
The restaurant is to be called Bedda Maki (not sure what the pun is here; need to phone a friend) and the usual carpaccio of tuna and swordfish become sashimi, the deep fried rice arancini are turned into sushi portions, the spaghetti becomes udon noodles, etc. etc. Business is now dependent on the good review of a rather camp restaurant critic who flirts outrageously with Maria, causing Tony to become jealous, his son trying to keep his girlfriend quiet so she doesn’t ruin everything and poor Maria tottering around in a kimono, wig and Japanese sandals, it all works out fine. The critic is impressed with the food, the girlfriend is impressed with Calogero’s true self and Tony realises that he should have married Maria years ago. And they all live happily ever after.
Not King Lear, but well acted-presented, funny and a brilliant way to end a rather long day back home in Citta della Pieve.