Today I gave myself permission to faire la grasse matinee. It's a French expression, which means to sleep in. I hear you laughing, those of you who know me. Yes, it's true I don't shoot out of bed at the crack of dawn, but today I outdid myself. I stayed curled up under my warm duvet until the seventeenth century church bells of Our Lady of the Martyrs announced noon with a flourish.
I feel no guilt whatsoever when I say I enjoyed every single minute of my grasse matinee.
Relax. I wasn't asleep all that time. I woke up around 9:30 a.m. and lay there thinking, surrounded by the heat of my own body under the covers. Despite the wood shutters and the drapes that cover the glass in the doors, some threads of light pushed their way in through the cracks. It gave me just enough soft light to marvel once again at the beauty of the cathedral ceilings.
It's so quiet here. The silence is as palpable as a hum. You can't miss the buzz of a moquito. The slightest movement on the street outside my door sounds like an intrusion. I listened to people living their lives from my bed, the bark of a dog, a car streaking by.
I lay there and thought about so many things and about nothing. I've felt tired these last couple of days.
Last night our hostess Paola took the three of us (Fances, Shay and me -- Barbara has gone to Istanbul for a week) to an excellent restaurant called Arete. It's a former masseria (farmhouse) and beautifully restored. It sits on the provincial highway between Martignano and Cavallino, about a 10-minute drive.
We arrived around 9:00 pm. By the time we left two hours later, the line of people waiting for a table was impressive. We did not have a full-course meal. We MIRA residents don't seem capable of making it through a full four courses without falling over.
We asked Paola to order for us -- she's been there so many times, the owner knows her by first name. They brought an array of antipasti so generous our eyes grew large as children's at Christmas. They brought ricotta made with buffalo milk, zucchini flan, tiny spiced meatballs, braised cabbage, and more. The dishes just kept coming and by the end of the first course we were already satiated.
However, when the second course arrived, like good troopers we pitched in. Paola had ordered two dishes, each of which the kitchen split in four for us. The first was a delectable fava bean puree served on triangles of fried bread; the second, a pumpkin and truffle risotto that had every one of us floating off the floor over our chairs with pure pleasure.
We eschewed a meat course and a sweet, settling on fruit for dessert. I don't know what kind of wine we drank -- I don't drink much so I forget to pay attention. Paola ordered some kind of digestive liquer made from fennel and had us taste it. I thought it was disgusting.
To the left is the front door of the residence where I live (MIRA, Martignano International Residence for Artists). It's on a corner. The front door faces via S. Nicola. The photo on the right shows the side of the building with two of the four bedrooms door looking out onto via G. Verdi. My room is the door furthest left.