Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Signora Alone

After a brief freak out over prices in Venice, I decided to get over my sticker shock and start enjoying some dinners in restaurants. In Ravenna, during my mosaics class, I often had company for dinner. But in Rome and Florence I've mostly been a signora dining alone, and I can't say that I've been received with open arms.

Yes, they have space for single diners, but it usually the worst seat in the house. Last night, at a popular enoteca (wine bar) in Florence, I agreed to be seated at the bar; the previous night there had been no seats whatsoever so I was glad to at least have a chance to sample their food and wine. At first I chose a spot at the end of the bar, but it turned out to be in front of the meat slicer. I realized this when I looked up and found myself staring at a pig's hoof, which was attached to the pig's leg, which was attached to the pig's thigh, which was being shaved into thin pieces of prosciutto.

I moved over a few chairs so that I would have a different view. But then a few more people came in and wanted to be seated at the bar, and the maitre d', an unsmiling woman with cropped hair, asked if the signora could move over. I did, but I was a bit annoyed.

Tonight I went to another bustling restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating. They only had room inside, I was told, which I accepted. I was shown to a seat at the end of a bench, facing the kitchen, in a room with no other diners.

I asked if there was another spot available. The maitre d', a brisk woman with long hair, grudgingly showed me another place, in a room that had other people in it.

"Is this OK for the signora?"

It would do.

Tomorrow is my last night in Italy and I'll be spending it in Venice. I know a great self service restaurant there - it has good food and no attitude, and I can sit wherever I want.

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