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:
- 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.
- The bar is old school: antique mirrors with dings and imperfections, wooden bar, old prints of 20th-entury ocean liners.
- The foccaccia strips are self-service and are a sure bet for making my children happy (NB: not necessary this morning).
- 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.