Well, here’s the story of the good Marco.
I dined alone as one does on a solo trip which seemed to confuse the wait staff thinking I was waiting someone even after confirming I was not, so by the time I ordered an hour later, I was a little ragey from hunger, but also from the annoying table of Americans from Connecticut next door who kept offering me their food and spoiling the next night’s dinner for me by telling me all about it. We were even off on the wrong foot to start when the less-than-charming husband about barreled me over, rushing me for the door (in a non-chivalrous way) saying he had to go because his wife had gone ahead while he finished his cigar in the street. By all means, I was just trying to open this door as a leisure activity. Funny to sit down right next to him. I declined his pate on toast, then his mushroom pasta. After they ordered four courses, he complained about too much food loudly, on repeat and then grossly left with a creepy wink saying his wife “had something in the fridge in the room.” Gross, gross, gross. I hope they enjoyed their trip, but they were absolutely awful- judgy of everything that they were doing- it didn’t make any sense. Please let me read.
Finally, the waiter caught on to my frustrations as both a solo diner and in terrible company and brought me some seriously large glasses of wine. I was grateful, as I was for the OTHER table of Americans who were catching my eye and smirking while I rolled mine in silent conversation.
Finally, with food, I ordered the Tuscan sampling starter which included local salami, Pecorino, pears, apple compote, and honey. It was heaven and had I not been seated next to a couple of annoying morons (who I offered some cheese to) I would have definitely taken more of a caloric commitment.
The man at the front, very tall, very sturdy, very Italian, the right amount of slightly older, who I’d later come to know as (good) Marco, came by to give me a thumbs up, as in hey, ya done yet? Can I make you pasta now? (Well, at least that’s how I interpreted it). I gave him a thumbs up back. I’m done, I’ve offered strangers my cheese, take this, get them off of my back, thanks, Marco.
All of the pastas sounded delightful, but I took my waiter’s recommendation of the Pici, a local pasta, like a fat spaghetti, tossed with sweet garlic, Pecorino (God, I adore Pecorino), smokey bacon, and cherry tomatoes. I was instructed to stir it quickly so the cheese would melt, but I’m a sucker for eating slowly and savoring, so I just gave it a wee poke or two.
Honestly, it was a perfect pasta, the kind of indulgence you could eat every weekend, simple, but yes!
My waiter brought me a bit of Amaro to digest after I declined dessert, though sad to miss the best cheesecake in the world, as he’d described to several tables. I finished and he never really returned, busy with throngs of the late seating.
After my strange company of the annoying Conneticuns, a lingering meal, and a digestif, I was ready for bed and couldn’t wait for the credit card terminal I’d asked for that wasn’t seeming to arrive. So I took matters into my own hands in the spirit of getting the hell out of there, and brought my bill to the front to pay an accidentally got to know Marco. The front “desk” was a tiny nook stuffed between a hot and busy kitchen, and a step below to the entry door under which there were several parties trying to get in, giving it a very ‘natives are getting restless’ vibe. I didn’t care. I thanked Marco for his Pici, (that’s right), and he asked me where I was from. I told him and he shared he’d lived in Houston to which I unabashedly replied “WHY!?” Well, he’d married a girl from Texas and stayed there for six years. “Exes in Texas,” he said. “Me too…” He wanted to know if I was serious and I assured him I was. Dallas. Charmingly, he asked me about my husband in Geneva and I confirmed I was unattached to which he responded maybe we should get married and gave me his card. So funny, so Italian, just so… life. “Maybe…” I said and left, allowing the throngs of people below to enter and eat up my date time with Marco.
There was no date, that night or the next, though it was discussed in great detail. Ideas and late timings (such is the life of a resto manager) could be construed as romantic, but I watch too much true crime to indulge in these suggestions. Perhaps it’s best to leave Florence with Marco’s casual marriage proposal and his delicious Pici (exactly as it sounds) under my belt and leave it at that…and that I did.