Che bella vita, Barbara said, mouth full, as she took another bite of the fresh, crusty bread loaded with sweet, cherry tomatoes, tangy olive oil and perfect half moons of buffalo mozzarella. Simple pleasures, Mari, they’re the best, this time as she cracked open an ice cold beer to share. We were super sandy and covered in salt water deposits from all the dips we took in the turquoise waters of the Gargano peninsula that morning. We downed the beer and took our last bites of “the perfect lunch,” and headed back to the beach where the boys were kicking a soccer ball around, getting pumped up for the Italy-Spain game.
The Europa Cup is a big deal, and whenever the national Italian team plays a game, the whole country goes crazy. We still didn’t know where we were going to watch it since the villa we were staying in was sans electricity. We hopped in the car and started driving along the coast, searching frantically for a bar, or even some generous neighbors with a TV. After a few hopeless tries, we settled on a restaurant called The Seagull. Will they have a TV? we thought.
The quiet owner was all smiles and brought us gelato to snack on before the game started. It felt like we were in his living room, really. The first notes of the national anthem began and we all stood up to sing. As the first kick signaled the start of the game, the man did a quick sign of the cross, turned towards us with a wink as if to say, “Let’s do this,” and sat down, immediately lighting up another Marlboro.