Parked the 5-seater white stallion just shy of the shade in a pay and display bay by the station. Lugged self and kindred cohorts up not a few flights of old granite stairs. Rewarded with varying levels of breathlessness. Countered at summit with view of a distant Rome baked hard in its own haze by an August sun. Cooled by a canopy of mulberry grown over the plaza on which we stood.
Exploration agreed upon albeit by bicker and committee. Focused on the hunt and capture of souvenirs.
Outvoted, I ambled behind kindred cohorts; sidelined responsibility and subverted intent to see filled and fulfilled the empty vessel one’s head held for Frascati that week. Wine that is. Lugged was now tailing, dropped a little too off the back. Admired the surrounds: aged buildings, rendered ‘acracked’ in pastels and arisen from snappy thin streets – themselves the cobbled routes/roots of historical endeavour. Stopped and started as window by shop windows’ contents were judged and dismissed; a reluctance to absorb the difference in culture. Concentrated on the wine – and by that moment maybe some water.
Spotted a clown sat down, ‘L’ shaped, back against a wall, white nylon big-buttoned jump-suit, a make-up tear headlined the eerie cosmetics and a begging bowl was her footer. Pitied but paid nothing. Witnessed another man close by, did they know each other? Appeared to be in costume too: black punk boots, black zip-embellished combat trousers, matching long-sleeve shirt with cuffs that reached the knuckles and all held on a frame that itself held the natural stance of a gunslinger. Topped with a head that held a lined Italian tan, hair shaved from the neck to lobe-line where above; what sprouted in raven and grey was tortured back into a stub of a ponytail. Avoided eye-contact but glanced and saw them; eyelids peeled back, eyeballs thinly ringed by their whites – effusing some sorta soulless insanity and them themselves outlined by the broad dark circles of a being that cannot sleep. Avoided eye-contact some more, ambled nervily on and concentrated on the water – and by that moment maybe some ice-cream too.
Voiced the want of ice-cream and infected family with the same desire. Forwent the search for souvenirs for the search of a gelatiere and after some square looping of the town’s compact alleys chanced on our goal. Trooped in and hogged the counter of cool delights. Served by stickler for Italian custom, girls first, we chose our flavours and tubs. Seated selves neath a more man-made canopy on the premise’s patio and spooned in calories. Watched the town in the midst of its routine and once more witnessed the appearance of the man in black; he cared not where he stood be it road or pavement and attempted dialogue with anyone. Seemed to annoy noone, yet still he unnerved me. Beckoned over by gelatiere owner the man brought his blackness, his manner and his eyes to within metres of our table.
Listened but didn’t look. Learned his name and it was Andro.
Assigned an errand, spied him take a note and disappear into the the ceiling-less corridors of the town. Returned with a pack of twenty and some change for the owner a little while later. Regretted my assumptions; the fearsome notion of Andro rapidly dissolved; merely a man that likes to be in character, known and liked by the locals it appears.
Departed with no souvenirs, the heat of the day saw to that, but took away a photo of Frascati’s vineyard on a hillside plus one of Andro and a note of my own that read “be less judgemental”. Bought (and drunk) wine bearing the town’s name in homage, from a supermarket many miles away a day later. Enjoyed it too.