#9: Il Mercato - going to the market in Italy
Monday is market day in Recco, the neighbouring village. I love a market and Barbara (M’s sister-in-law) invites me to come along with her. As I might have mentioned before, Barbara can’t speak English but, weirdly, we can communicate very well with each other. I think it might be because she runs a nursery school and my Italian is probably on par with a three year old.
She texts me early in the morning, saying ‘lets go shopping’. This is why I love her.
Recco market is big, full of clothes, crockery, weird shoes and porcini mushrooms. Its a fully functioning market, no artisan crafts or tourist tat. It is for the hardcore only.
It soon becomes apparent that Italian markets are an exercise in patience, endurance and bluffing; bartering is essential and you will have walk away and return several times to a stall to get the right price.
It also becomes clear that Barbara, as a result of having lived in Camogli all of her life and having seen half the towns’ population grow up, knows everybody. We can hardly go a few paces without gasps of surprise, introductions, flurries of kisses and conversations about various ailments.
We shuffle along the market, moving from one cheek to the next, picking up items like sponges and hairbrushes along the way for much of the morning, with occasional interjections of ‘quanto constano?’ from me and ‘che brutto’ from Barbara.
Eventually, we bump into one of Barbara's best friends, who is five months pregnant, and we spend an hour perusing a lot of stalls on a quest for maternity bras.