You stand in the Piazza di Popolo in Pesaro, it is near Christmas, cold but not bitter, the sun has set and shop owners are wondering whether there is a life before the rush for an aperitif and, away from the loneliness of the shop, an accord at the bar with friends and allies in this desperate toil of retail business.
Where are the art stores, where can I buy some Rossiniana?
Directed down Via XI Settembre, we wander left and right, charmed by a lone saxophonist, well past 60, still creating exquisite tones in the cool of the evening, or is that coming from his recording? Ten minutes go by and we have passed bars and shops on the left and right, and come to the Pescheria Gallery, closed as are all the art centres of Pesaro.
What to do?
We turn back towards the Piazza and choose a bar with ‘antagonistic’ colour selection half way back to the piazza, on the left. But it feels friendly. The manager, and only apparent employee of this modern bar notes our request for ‘negroni’ and red wine and we sit near the entrance. A lady with a ‘dog-getta’ (little dog), dressed for the opera, sits two tables away to our left. Business seems to be slow. But the aperitifs are tasty and the bar is warm.
We watch the changing of the guard as two elderly well dressed men enter, share a beer and a wine, and sit at the table to our right.
We order a wine or two more and accept the mini-pizza nibbles. The bar manager is approached by a lady who reminds him of his duty to provide drinks and aperitifs to a shop opposite. While he fulfils his obligation with pleasure, one of the ‘old gentlemen’ leans over the bar and selects a ‘crostatina’ or two for his private enjoyment. Noting that we watched him with unbridled amusement he enters our space and engages us in conversation.
He is anonymous, a silver haired gent from Pesaro, descending on the bar at his designated hour. We discuss Pesaro, Urbino, Marche, Italy and the galaxy, but fail to find a solution to the travails of being an Italian in Italy. His partner sparks – he was from Calabria, and even in his dotage, he presents a good legal case – possibly solely to protect his voluble partner. They smile and they joke. Mischievous, but good natured, they toy with the bar manager, picking and poking at the patisseries of the day, the chocolates and sweets.
As night falls, reckoning time comes and the Hyde becomes Jeckyll, with a negotiation or two on a fair (or unfair) price. Yet, the game must close for the day, the players must return to the fold of boring wives and RAI TV and, to our joy, we find that these sinners we have shared a sip or two with are none other than the previous directors of the good health and wealth of this fine city.
And we are still looking for Rossiniana or even a sign of Rossini in the air.