ITALIA: June 24, 2007

Sunday, and the last day of official business for Zuppa del Giorno’s Italia Feste 2007!. We begin by rising early to discover we haven’t the necessary supplies for a proper Italian breakfast. Which is to say, we’d run out of bread. So for the morning we played “Starving Russian Peasant Family,” making a game out of our desperate situation so the boy (read: David) wouldn’t panic. I went out in search of pane afterward, so we wouldn’t go without for lunch, which turned out to be quite the adventure. I had forgotten that most of Italy shuts down on a Sunday morning, and so ended up driving about all over in search of an open store. I ended up in Orvieto centro and buying the most expensive groceries of the whole trip, but also having one of the best communication experiences in Italian so far. So I made it back victorious, light of heart and light of wallet.

Lunch was huge, breaking our Russian Peasant fast and keeping in mind that we had a lot of business today and a late dinner planned with Lucianna. For once on this trip I partook of all the courses. It was not difficult, particularly with the bottle of Orvietan white we had saved for our last full day in town. After cleaning up our leisurely lunch we made good time into Orvieto and the piazza of LinguaSi to meet with Piero in follow-up to our initial meeting concerning next year’s program.

We might’ve planned to be more Italian, as Piero came with Sebastiano in tow around a half an hour after the agreed meeting time. Ah, Italia! Accompanying them was India, the most important woman in Sebastiano’s life, I think. His Roman Mastiff dog. Have you seen Cujo? How about Turner and Hooch? Combine those looks and make it bigger. The breed comes from ancient Roman battlefields, but this beast was sweet as a muffin.

Our meeting with Piero went just fine. His responses to our ideas about and changes to his proposal were entirely positive, to the extent that I was fairly embarrassed by my anxiety about it. There was definitely something there for me to learn about the art of negotiation, as it were. His attitude seemed to be that as long as we were still working together, as long as something was happening between us, he was getting what he wanted. Perhaps this isn’t always a good approach to take in instances when what you want is very specific, but I’m certain it creates an atmosphere of positive collaboration and continued possibility.

From there, in common Italian style, we went to coffee instead of Andrea’s as planned. Actually, that’s manipulating the circumstances a bit. We had some questions at that point about whether or not India would be welcome in Andrea and Natsuko’s apartment, especially given her advanced pregnancy, and couldn’t get a hold of Andrea to ask, so stopped to refresh ourselves. By the time we got to their place—to discover the dog would not be a problem so long as we were all on their terrace—it was close to 5:30. Andrea had invited over Hanna, one of the administrative staff of Teatro Boni we met the prior week, and in spite of how tired he was from having returned from work away, the meeting progressed.

This was an interesting movement forward, as it was the first time Andrea and Sebastiano would meet, and they seemed to me very different sorts of people. Andrea is very much a country mouse, wildly enthusiastic about working creatively in a broad range of comic areas and who enjoys being silly and fun, whereas Sebastinao is what you might imagine from an urban, more “method” actor, seemingly serious about his craft and constantly concerned by his career. We were hoping they could work together, simply because they are actors and we know them both. This was the primary point of the meeting, and if we could get well along with that we could move on to the specifics of our vision for next year.

It took me a while to figure out, owing to the two speaking so fast in Italian, but they found at least some common ground. I still suspect one is not necessarily the other’s ideal partner, but David is confident that getting to the point of actually working together is the main thing, and that both are sincerely interested in working. Should differences arise, they’ll be ironed out or shaved off in collaboration, simple as that. And we began the collaboration almost immediately (once we got past the obvious—there’s no money for this on either end, there’s no precedence for this in any of our gathered experiences, there’s no money to be made by this [that’s not quite true {LinguaSi offers a lot of opportunities for us to teach even when we’re working on our own show}]) swapping ideas about what was exciting about working together. Before too long, we had to escape to let Andrea finally sleep, and all parties left it seemed in a spirit of hopefulness about the future.

During the meeting Lucianna called to inform us that her train had literally broken down outside of Rome, and she thought she’d have to stay there overnight. This was crushing, as she’s one of our best friends here in Italy, but there was little we could do about it so we agreed to keep our 9:00 reservations for the terrace of Antica Rupe without her. It was a great place to have our last dinner in Orvieto, sentimental and fine. While there we excitedly babbled about the meeting, and got on the subject of one of the ideas for our collaboration: a clown version of Rome & Juliet. This may sound simple, but we had a great time talking out the possibilities and I would not be surprising to find it’s what we agree to by October, our decision due date.

Midway through our dinner we got a welcome call at the restaurant informing us that Lucianna would indeed be joining. She caught something like three different trains to make it after all, and not too long after she phoned in her order, she was there. It was marvelous to see here again, as flustered and tired as she must have been. We established that we still wanted to do business with her, and had no idea what that now meant (we’ll be between Orvieto and other cities like Bolsena and Pitigliano most of the time), and she was fine with that. So the remainder of the evening was spent just enjoying each other’s company. The waiter ended up hitting on Heather pretty hardcore, too. We were glowing. Lucianna has that effect on us.

Late late late we headed to bed, to rise the next day for Rome. We’re spending the night there before heading to the airport for our flight back to the States. Feels like we’ve been gone a month. Could stand a month more.