Next morning, October 24th 2015
“I’ve seriously got to get runners if I’m walking up and down the land. These boots are filthy and they’re only new.”
It was Saturday, the market would be open. So we drove off down the Grand Canyon that used to be my driveway, but there was still no sign of Antonio or Miriama. It was sunny, the clock said twenty four degrees on the car display. The cinque cento dashboard was like a video game. It came on with a big intro like the start of a movie by Twentieth Century Fox.
It was sunny and warm, like a scorcher in Ireland. Ann Marie hates the cold but was leaving without a jacket.
“You’ll need a jacket.” I said.
“No I won’t, it’s boiling out.”
“No. We need to wear jackets, so that we don’t stand out like sore thumbs at the market.”
“Are you serious? Ah for God’s sake. ”
Ann Marie is not the big shopper her gender tends to be. Sorry girls but what about this? You arrive on a sunny Saturday morning at a market the size of a cricket pitch and more, and you are there five minutes.
“Five euro for a pair of runners? Are they serious, are all these five euro?” She asked me.
There was about six tables of shoes at this stall and each one had sign in the middle with the price of shoes on that table. From five for the runners, it went up to a staggering twelve euro for boots for the winter.
“But these are really good quality, there not like pennies best.”
“Look, I’ll ask the man, but I’m sure they are.”
“Let me try them on first.”
The sole was deep. They were navy canvas with a side zip and white laces and trimming. She rocked like a new born baby giraffe trying to take off her boot and put on the runner without touching her sock off the ground. Finally putting her foot down she beamed from ear to ear, and her smile developed into giddy excitement at her find.
“These are like H&M or Newlook, you’d pay thirty or forty euros from them.”
So I held them up and asked the man how much they were. A fiver, all of them are a fiver. Suddenly Ann Marie wanted more and her eyes were scanning the table in circles.
“Good price!” I said to the man in Italian.
“Everything is a good price because nobody has any money.” He told me.
“Italy is in crisis.” He went on to say.
“It is the same for us in Ireland.” I told him, not wanting to let on we were in recovery.
Oh, and by the way, everyone had some class or other of a puffer jacket on.
Non Solo Vino was our next stop. I’ve known Francesco about eight years now. It was October 2007, I was making a mock crazy paving with my brother Donal and he was on my next door neighbours land talking to him, (Giovanni).
“Corrad, Corrad?” Giovanni called me over.
I was introduced to Francesco who told me he was exchanging wine with Giovanni for olive oil. Donal being the communist, loved this idea. You both get what you want, get rid of what you have too much of, and the government doesn’t get a cent in tax. The idea was we were to follow Francesco who was about to open his shop again after lunch. Bear in mind it was a quarter past five in the evening. It was a small square room behind a tinted glass door. He had bottles of wine, taralli and various other local produce in small quantities. But it was the great big enormous vats that were the big mystery. They had A4 sheets of paper selotaped to each one. A funny name and clusters of circles to depict grapes printed on them. They had a petrol pump hose and handle type thing coming out of them. Two elegant glasses appeared for tasting and Francesco squirted a mouthful of wine from the first vat. I liked it. I liked it like you’d like someone the first time you met, not knowing that you were going to fall in love with them. Well that was the beginning of that relationship between me and Nicoletto. Nicoletto was eighty percent negroamaro and twenty percent Malvasia. We opted for three litres. Francesco went to the till and told us it was tre trenta.
“Thirty three.” Said Donal. “Not too bad I suppose.”
“That’s what? Three litres is four bottles. Thirty three by four is about eight twenty five a bottle.”
The socialism buzz was draining right out of him.
“No Donal. Tre trenta is three thirty, trenta tre is thirty three.”
“Fuck me, that’s one ten a litre, that’s about eighty cents a bottle. Here get another five litres off him.”
Well it’s a shocking one sixty a litre now and he’s moved across the road, changed his name from Lu Capsone to Non Solo Vino. My heart froze for a second last spring when his original shop was closed and bare inside. That was until I heard “Corrad, Corrad” coming from the other side of the street.
He was in top form as usual this year and shook our hands warmly. He’s learned over the years not to kiss his customers like he used to when he’d greet me after another year had past.
Taking roundabouts anticlockwise is natural now, so having to take three in quick succession on the way to Eurospin was OK in that regard. The part I’d forgotten was that normal rules don’t apply. You know that one that states that if you are on the roundabout you have right of way. Yes that is the one that is different in the south of Italy. In fact it’s not just on roundabouts. Give so much as a car length between you and the car in front and they are in. Doesn’t seem to matter at all if you have to jam on, they see a gap, they take it, and it’s expected. No issue with the fact that they are perpendicular to the road and they want to cross to go into the opposite direction, and there isn’t a hope that a gap will appear the other side anytime soon. Bumper cars. Exactly like bumper cars without the bumping part. Pretending that you will bump and pulling out the last minute. The chaos of Saturday morning up town Ostuni is like a giant dodgems ring. Eurospin is like Lidl or Aldi only cheaper. In fact it is only slightly dearer than shoplifting. €2.06 a 70cl bottle of Limoncello. You could get a bottle of wine for €1.03, not to mention a carton, which honestly you should only cook with, for 68 cents. But I’d been to Francesco’s so I’d no need for vino.

Written by conrad in: |

Powered by WordPress | Aeros Theme | TheBuckmaker.com WordPress Themes | dev by dojo | hosted by doop