For the next couple of days, Jack Sh*t is chronicling his adventures on his recent trip to Italy as well as including tips to help you plan your own international travel. It is his special way of saying "Nanna nanna boo boo, I went to Italy!" to all his loyal readers.
Our first dining experience in Cortona, Italy, turned out to be a
lovely, up-scale restaurant that was just a slight bit unnerving because
we were the only diners there. However, the food was fantastic, the
wine was exquisite and the service terrific.
The next night, my wife Anita and I decided to try one of the city’s
most popular places, a well-reviewed, don’t-miss spot that we (having
not learned our lesson) haven’t made reservations for on a Saturday
But it’s way early, so we decide to give it a try right as the doors
open. The owner/maitre d' is a friendly, garrulous godfather-sort,
smiling broadly as we tell him our sob story about why we don’t have
reservations (“We’re stupid!”).
He leads us to a table two feet away from where we’re standing, at the
front door. With just the slightest hesitation, we give the wait staff
our coats, take our seats and give an “it-all-worked-out” smile to one
another. The waitress pours us some water and we start looking over the
That’s when all kinds of crazy started to break out…
A group of would-be diners entered. Apparently it was some folks the
owner knew, because they all stood there talking loudly and animatedly
in Italian. Another couple entered and went to the bar, which was right
on the other side of our tiny table. All of a sudden, it was as if we
were sitting in a beehive.
Anita and I looked at one another, each of us getting more and more
uncomfortable with the setting and realizing that it was only going to
get worse as more people began arriving. However, considering that
restaurants here charge a seating fee and no-telling-what for water, we
were already on the hook.
It got louder and louder, until we finally agreed that even if the food
was the best ever prepared, there was no way we were going to enjoy this
meal. We were having the other kind of reservations, we told the
waitress, who didn’t speaka the language. We wanted out!
The owner came over and made a big show of releasing us from our dining
obligation. He was friendly enough, but there was a slight tinge of sour
grapes that had nothing to do with the wine list.
Shaken slightly, we headed back to the restaurant we had enjoyed so much
the day before, hoping we could finagle our way in on a busy Saturday
It turned out not to be a problem, as we were the only other diners once
again. And once again, it was an outstanding meal (except, if I had it
to do over, I probably wouldn’t order the sea monster).
Obviously, this was our place.