She was sitting at a small table in the afternoon sun reading the newspaper and sipping a Crodino at a cafe outside of Rome. She was the embodiment of elegance even in this semi-rural setting on the Appia Antica.
Her long grey hair was beautifully pinned back in a french roll, her legs in tights and smart feminine shoes. A modest winter-weight skirt and knit top completed the picture.
I didn’t notice her at first. I was ravenous and keen to focus on my melanzane and torta, and english breakfast tea. I had just walked around 6 kms or so on the ancient Appian way.
Another table was occupied by two women and their gaggle of children. They didn’t bother me as I enjoyed the eggplant, mmm.
The first I noticed of her was her speaking calmly and serenely to the noisy table. There was a sharp fast response in Italian and the children and their attendants packed up their things and abruptly left with a couple of further back bites thrown over their shoulders. It was all spoken far too quickly for me to follow with my limited Italian.
My friend explained. The older woman in accented Italian had said to the women that they shouldn’t smoke cigarettes in front of the children; that it sets a bad example. They had been offended and told her to mind her own business. My friend said her Italian was well spoken, she had lived in Italy a long time. He couldn’t pick where she was from.
I looked over at her as she had seemingly gone back to her paper completely un-fazed. I tried to discretely take her photo. I wanted to remember this woman. She is my dreamt of future. I want to live here in my later years when my children no longer need my care, I want to dress as beautifully and for my Italian to be well spoken. I want to sit in the sun in cafes in beautiful places sipping delicious drinks. I did the only thing I could for now. I ordered a Crodino.