Somewhere in the time between my art course and cooking at home with Giulia or doing yoga with the cat, I continued to enjoy being part of language exchanges, which, in my experience, usually drift into only one language or the other, and you’re basically just friends!
Eleanora and I went for aperitivo – on her vespa, naturally. I find the vespa ridiculously exciting, especially whizzing over the bridge! The following weekend she asked if I fancied going to a party out of town with her. She said you normally need to buy tickets but that she “has a friend” so we wouldn’t need them 😉 So, on Friday night I found myself on the moped once more, speeding into the countryside. We buzzed around some streets in a dark, quiet town, looking for the entrance. As we turned a corner, it jumped out in front of us: parked mopeds and crowds of young people gathering towards a floodlit archway, whose tall iron gates were closed. We parked the vespa and Eleanora grabbed my hand and wheedled us through the people, in a practiced manner. Arriving at the front we faced a couple of intimidating bouncers who looked at us sceptically. Eleanora was all confidence and big smiles as she started explaining, with the odd name drop. The bouncer nodded and kept a serious face as he opened the gate a crack for us. We slipped through and started walking up the bumpy drive, chuffed that all had gone to plan. “But,”, she said, “we need to get a lift, it’s too far to walk…half an hour maybe.” Behind us, a couple more people were slipping through. Then the gates were slowly fully opened to allow access to some cars. These were the taxi shuttles. The first one drew up to us and the window was lowered. “Ellleee, ciiaaooo!” said the driver – yet another of Eleanora’s pals. She beamed and gave him kisses. They had a little catch up and then we hopped in the back for a convenient lift up the dark, rubbly track. We passed some people walking, so we picked them up too – it was quite a hill – and then we arrived at the top. The driver waved us goodbye and made his way back down the hill, as he would be doing all night.
We approached a grand villa, packed with people. As we walked through the entrance I gaped at size of the place; the high ceilings, marble columns, huge, glamourous mirrors…it was a palace! I followed Eleanora to find her friends. We slowly pushed through the dance room, which was pitch black apart from coloured spotlights and a strobe, and emerged onto a balcony. Again, it was filled with people, chatting and smoking, but this time there was a bit more light. I could suddenly see what was surrounding me…the highest concentration of beautiful men I have ever seen in my life. I wondered whether this was some kind of male model party? But no, it was just an Italian party, and it seems I was the only foreigner. I’m sorry to sound so shallow, but really it was impossible not to notice! I should have spoken to one of them, but I found myself completely overwhelmed and had no idea where to even start. Anyway, at this point I was still being pulled around like a daydreaming child by Eleanora, until we found her friends. I managed to say hi to them and explain I was from Scotland, but the conversation from my end sort of puttered out there and I found myself just grinning and nodding. Thankfully Eleanora suggested we get a drink. I said I would have what she’s having, but little did I realise the kind of drinks Eleanora liked. She reappeared with two cups, no ice. “It’s a negroni; all alcohol” she said with a grin. I took a sip…a mix three of four alcohols stung my mouth. I think I only managed half, but that was the only drink we needed! We stood with her friends chatting, some more appeared, one had to leave early. Then from the dance hall I heard my favourite song start playing. I gasped and said I needed to go and dance to it. I asked Eleanora if she wanted to come and she shrugged the proposal over to her friend, Francesco. Luckily he said yes and we boogied the night away. Come about 5am I found myself on the back of Eleanora’s moped racing the sunrise home.