Barolino Caput Mundi


This morning, the first when both my girls went to school, and therefore the first morning in five years that my wife and I did not have children at our heels, I stopped at the Barolino Café in downtown Levanto for a cappuccino while my wife handled other affairs.

The Barolino has fast become my favorite café in Levanto for some very specific reasons:

  1. The bartenders are friendly and wild, each one more matto than the other.  They greet you, they chat with you, they give you great service.
  2. The bar is old school: antique mirrors with dings and imperfections, wooden bar, old prints of 20th-entury ocean liners.
  3. The foccaccia strips are self-service and are a sure bet for making my children happy (NB: not necessary this morning).
  4. The crowd is local, but inclusive, and while many of them may not recognize me, they speak to me as if I too had something to say.  They even speak to me in Italian rather than in Ligurian so I understand.

But none of these points captures the greatest aspect of the Barolino: it is the caput mundi of Levanto.  Sooner or later you see everyone there.  Our real estate agents (who use it like their second office).  Our former neighbors: the only place I see them anymore is here.  The family we bought our house from.  The guys who work in our bank.  The various local characters who I know by face and name but who don’t know me.

This morning I saw three different people at the Barolino whom I then bumped into in the most incongruous places throughout the valley of Levanto.  One drinking a bottle of wine on a plastic table outside the nursery.  Another walking her dog on the road to Monterosso.   The third sitting in front of a restaurant in Lavaggiorosso.

Barolino caput mundi.  Bibo ergo sum.

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