Last night we went to a local bar and had food and drinks and listened to some great blues and country music by some local musicians. We met a friend of Leif's named Tiziano, who introduced us to practically everyone in the bar. Lovely people who spoke slowly so that I could keep up with the conversation, which had to be in Italian because most Italians my age haven't learned English in school. I'm happy to say that I didn't totally embarrass myself.
It was in a little bar close to our house that, like many apartments here, is made up of a series of rooms that wander a little aimlessly through a building. This bar, if I have it figured correctly, started on the corner of the block then wandered behind the two adjoining stores and ended in a courtyard close to the center of the block. It was almost like spelunking while holding a glass of wine. Each room had a table filled with food: pasta and breads, salads and crostini, cheeses and meats, and on the bar itself bowls of salty snack foods.
The music was good, just short of American blues, but close enough to really enjoy. Three musicians played mandolins, acoustic guitars, a steel guitar, a banjo and a harmonica and really just jammed all night. Naturally, they were also friends of Tiziano and we got to meet them as well.
My favorite part of the night aside from the music was watching the bartender making one of their specialty drinks. It was a very un-American way to make a drink. Each time one was ordered he would carefully slice several fresh strawberries into the bottom of a glass, then crush the berries to the perfect consistency. Then he crushed the ice, cradling one cube at a time in the palm of his hand and tapping it with a small hammer until the glass was filled with perfectly crushed ice. Then, with a flourish, he poured Brut over it all and gently stirred it with a long handled spoon before sliding a whole strawberry onto the side of the glass and handing it to the server. That's right, no one was sitting at the bar watching this (I was on my way to the back myself and just happened to catch the performance.) They were three rooms away sitting at a table waiting for their drink. It was a great performance. It made me wish I had ordered one, just to watch him make it.