Lockdown Day 27 “Nettuno”

Ride to Finish  

The people that ran the team really seemed like down to earth people, even though they didn’t come pick me up at the airport. Leaving city hall I really got a good look at the center of town which I would learn it is called the piazza in Italian which means the main square in the town. The ocean was right there plus I could see what looked like a fortress with a high wall with homes inside of it. I didn’t know that was the old part of Nettuno. Seemed like it was missing a moat with alligators. Even though the Romans were famous builders and the constructed roads all over Europe they would have to had built one with sharks since the structure was right on the water. The owners of the team took me to an apartment about 6 blocks out of town. The building had 3 floors and my place was on the second floor. I was the first American to arrive but soon another two roommates will be coming one from Boston a pitcher and another from California a shortstop. I started unpacking my bags and Alberto the director of the team spoke a little English he told me to unpack and he will come by and pick me up and show me the restaurant where I will be eating lunch and dinner everyday. My first year my contract was $750 a month, lunch and dinner at a restaurant, free laundry and apartment. Was pretty good considering that my friend bob was making $600 in single A with the Yankee’s and had to pay for his food and rent. Around 7pm Alberto came to pick me up to take me to the restaurant where all of us Americans will be eating 2 times a day. I walked in the place and I could tell everyone knew I was a new player on the team. I looked up on the wall there were pictures of previous Americans who had come to play for Nettuno. I thought finally going to have authentic Italian meal and taste some real wine. I was never a big drinker but I needed to taste this vino. The waiter didn’t speak English and nor did anyone else in the place so Alberto just ordered for me. I saw behind me there was a cooler-refrigerator with fresh fruit and a plate a fish. The waiter brought the plate of fish over to us at the table, now I was used of seeing crawfish, frog legs and other food down in Louisiana but I have never been in a restaurant where they bring out a platter of fish with a couple of them were still trying to breath. I told them I will pass on the fish and decided to go with the pasta. The waiter brought out 3 bottles of what I thought were all wine. So I grabbed one filled my glass up, bit into a piece of bread and thought what the heck I slammed the vino down in one gulp. To my surprise this was the best tasting wine I have ever tasted in my life. Just went down so smooth you couldn’t even really taste the alcohol. While I was waiting for my first dish as they call in Italy. When you sit down to eat you have, the first dish which is pasta or risotto (rice), and then your second dish which will be meat, fish with a side dish of salad or cooked greens. Then after you can finish off your meal with a piece of fresh fruit. You don’t have to all 3 phases but traditionally it is like that. A wedding or special occasion you could have some anti pasta which there are two types from the mountains or ocean. Mountains would be prosciutto, salame, cheeses ect. And of course ocean is all fish. One thing I have learned and so have my friends and family who came to visit, Italians got eating down to a science. Eat fresh and everything that is in season. Another important factor is you have to eat the food and drink the wine from the area where you at. I didn’t believe this you could come to Nettuno open a local bottle of wine , could be the best thing you have ever tasted , bring a bottle home to America and it could change colours turn to vinegar. After centuries of making wine the grapes are grown at one climate, temperature, elevation the air. The wine is made, aged and bottled under the same conditions so when you open a bottle of wine from say a costal town and you are in the Alps at 9000 feet that definitely not taste the same.
Getting back to my first dinner, the made me a plate of hand made fettuccine a big plate of it. I think they may have mistaken me for Jethro from the Beverly hillbillies! I put my napkin under my neck to hopefully stop me from getting sauce on my shirt because I knew by looking at Alberto and Franco who were eating with me, I didn’t know how to role the pasta like them. This was going to be a learning process. I was getting ready to dig in and the cook brought out some more sauce with some meat and put it on top of my fettuccine. I looked at the plate I was going to tell Alberto and Franco to put a rain jacket or some type of protection on because when I start rolling this homemade pasta that sauce is going to be flying all over the place. I drank another glass of vino which was my third before I ate, I thought to myself I don’t even have a buzz yet?? About half way through my dish the bottle I was drinking from was finished so I started drinking the other. The colour was a little lighter so thought could it possibly be less stronger than the other bottle I drank. Now I understand why Italians drink wine this stuff don’t get your drunk at all. The conversation at the table was mostly about baseball what little we could say to each other. I remember them asking me if I could catch 3 games a week? I thought they were joking because back in the day I would catch everyday of the week in college, 7 days a week. There I found out the season was one game Friday night, double header on Saturday. I thought this is going be great, making ok money ,tax fee, everything is free, got an apartment near the beach, great food, awesome vino and lastly the Italian women. Even though I really haven’t had a chance to talk to any or really get a good look I was looking forward to meeting some. I got a card with the address of the restaurant so I could find it to come back and eat the following months. I said goodbye to the owners of the restaurant, a family owned business my first impression was they really nice people. The guys I was with drove me through the piazza and we stopped to have an ice cream along the walkway near the beach. No dairy queen in Italia, this stuff is all hand made from scratch. I walked in that place I couldn’t believe how many flavours of ice cream there was. I couldn’t read the flavours but it was strawberry, there would be whole strawberries on top of the ice cream. So I went with strawberry and coconut. While we were standing there eating our ice cream, I got a chance to look at some girls walking by. What hit me seemed like everyone was dressed really nice, latest fashion. I saw there were a group of girls looking at me, they most likely new I was a new player because I was standing there with Alberto.
I finished my ice cream, pulled out my English Italian vocabulary and walked over to them. As I opened my vocabulary I was looking for the words, “what is your name”? By the time I got to what is, they left me standing there with that vocabulary in my hand. I thought this is not going to work, no way am I going to meet someone with a pocket dictionary. I thought I will have to concentrate on baseball this year, meeting an Italian girl is going to be out of my league. We were walking back to the car and I saw this girl walking with yellow pants a flower shirt, long curly hair I stopped I am not kidding you she was the most beautifulest girls I have ever seen. I ask Alberto who is that girl? He told me she is the daughter of a military officer, you don’t want to fool around with her. Now 4 girls wanted to talk to me , I couldn’t translate fast enough they left me standing there in the dust. I saw one I wanted to meet and I can’t talk to her because her father is military and will kill me. In the car Ablerto ask me why I didn’t drink any wine at dinner he said most Americans like wine. I said Alberto didn’t you see I drank two bottles. Then I thought I drank two bottles and I didn’t get drunk? Alberto told me one bottle was aranciata or orange soda, the other was acqua minerale or sparkling mineral water. First day in Nettuno, 4 girls left me because it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to say in Italian what your name is, saw a girl in the piazza I fall in love with and I can’t go near her because her father will shoot me, thought I drink two bottles of wine and it was soda and water. Conclusion after day one, I think it will be better to concentrate on baseball this year.