Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day 14 - Erbusco

I’m sitting here, writing this piece under a beautiful blue sky, the convertible roof open and the sun streaming in. It’s a glorious day as our trip winds down to its final two days and our plan for the day is simple. Do nothing.

With the top down it is a bit chilly, so I get up and walk into the closet and get a sweater, returning to the bed to continue reading internet stories of last night’s Red Sox World Series clinching victory. But how is this possible, without veering off the road? Our convertible is not a car, but our hotel room here at l’Albereta (Via Vittorio Emanuele, 21, Erbusco, tel. 030.776.0550). With a push of a button the domed ceiling above our four poster bed slowly retracts, making a its fifteen foot journey in about five minutes, leaving a similar size opening above our heads and exposing nothing but clear blue sky. On a day like today, with cool temperatures and a clear sky, this unusual room feature will get a real workout.

We had tried the roof the night before, while having our truffle picnic in our room. While allowing in the fresh air, the effect was not the same as it is this morning, as it had been pitch black and mostly cloudy outside. Every few minutes or so, however, an airplane would pop through the clouds just over our heads, its navigation lights illuminating the clouds and its flashing beacons creating a light show which, while not quite on par with the aurora borealis, was at least quite mesmerizing.

So this morning we slide open the roof once again, surfing the internet for more stories about our beloved Red Sox. This, of course, is overkill, as we had set our alarm for two o’clock the previous night in order to wake up and watch the game on our computer. When we tuned in the game was in the second inning and the score was 1-0 Sox. We proceeded to watch through the last out, or at least I did (Suzy tends to fall asleep as soon as the power on button is pressed on a TV), over three hours later. It was a fabulous game, and being able to watch it live on my Slingbox was nearly flawless, the only problem being that we had to use our high speed UMTS card to connect to the internet, which is a much slower connection than wi-fi. As a result the Slingbox spent a great deal of time buffering its video stream, which would slow down and speed up like an old time silent movie, occasionally cutting off a pitch or two, including Mike Lowell’s home run and Mike Timlin’s inning ending strike out. On these occasions it was clear enough from the context of the game to figure out what had happened and the hours I spent watching highlights and replays afterwards filled in the rest of the blanks. The bottom line is that we saw the Sox win a World Series and got to witness the celebration live, even if it was nearly six o’clock in the morning here. Good thing we don’t have any activities planned for the day.

In all my years of baseball fandom I have followed just two teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves and for many of those years being a fan was a frustrating experience. Then things changed in the early 1990s as the Braves ascended to the top of their division and remained there for 14 years. Around this time the Sox shook off their slumber and began to challenge the Yankees for dominance in the AL East, reaching the playoffs on a regular basis. Through all of their success, however, the two teams had only two World Series titles among them. I had not been present to watch either title, having a work obligation when the Braves beat the Cleveland Indians for their title and being here in Italy, and without a means of watching the game on TV or computer three years ago when the Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals. So, I was not going to let a little fatigue get in the way of watching this game. Today I am bone tired from staying up all night. But to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “when I wake up tomorrow, madam, I will be well rested and the Red Sox will still be World Champions.”

* * *

So what to do when you are staying at world class resort and spa, with nothing to do? This feeling is so foreign, so unusual to us, that we frankly don’t quite know what to do. For those of you who read our daily accounts, I hope that it appears that we glide effortlessly from mouth watering meal to a life altering experience to soul affirming moment of cultural discovery and connection. But let me let you in on a little secret and a literary term I learned in high school. It’s called “poetic license.” In writing these stories I take a little liberty to emphasize some facts and details and to deemphasize others. The result is a little like my Slingbox account of last night’s game. Some portions are speeded up, others slowed down, but in the end you get the essential gist and most of the details. Like making sausage, you are spared some details you don’t really want to or care to know, such as the amount of time we spend each day simply writing and posting our stories. But beyond that there are the mundane or unpleasant details of the long drives from place to place, the inevitable missed turns, on the fly change of plans, interminable meetings with suppliers, oversleeping, hangovers, stomach aches, coughs and colds and general malaise. We try to spare you these details and I only mention them because today we don’t have to consider any of them. We simply get to do nothing.

Unlike Seinfeld, I don’t think I’m so good about writing entertaining story lines about nothing.

So I will simply say that our story about nothing may not be all that entertaining to you, but I know of two people who would love to replay this episode over and over again. Especially the part where the nice bartender in the white jacket serves lunch for the two of them on a semi-private terrace balcony overlooking a garden blazing with fall colors, starting them off with a couple of glasses of cold, crisp chardonnay that is grown in the field just beyond the garden. Or the part where they get to wander around the grounds, surprised as they come across a particularly beautiful vista or a strategically placed sculpture. Or where they sit in silence in the sauna, sweating out the impurities of two weeks of overeating, overdrinking and undercaring for their bodies, and then get to sit around the quiet indoor pool, reading, napping and reflecting. Or how about the visit to the spa, where the woman’s face gets squeezed and contorted for an hour while the guy is asked to put on a paper thong bikini before being kneaded, pushed and prodded by a guy named Jordan. You probably have no interest in these mundane things, preferring to read about the cooking classes, the meals, the ancient city festivals and the like. But there are two who like the other story, too.

On a day when we are full of mixed emotions, a two week journey coming to an end, the baseball season coming to an end, much business done successfully and some incomplete, this is a nice story.

And as the couple plays a final game of backgammon on the four poster bed under a chilly, clear sky that is as much a part of their room as the couch or bed table, they prepare to face the final day of packing up and travel, happy that on this day they have had a day to do nothing.

A presto,
Bill and Suzy

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