Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pasqua Genovese


A sign outside the tiny alley beckoned us in- Viganotti 1866. Hubby's Italian blood gives him a natural knack for knowing about landmark institutions, those must sees, must buys, must indulge in kind of places, even in cities rarely visited. A sign that appears utterly non-descript to me instead causes him to stop fast in his tracks and leads us straight to the same little chocolate shop where a line full of locals are quietly waiting their turns to enter and purchase their last minute easter treats.

The opaque door with the small lettering is mysterious to us out-of-towners. It's hard to fathom exactly how long a wait will be necessary once we actually get in the door. Some locals assure us not long, we have to wait outside first only because the shop is so very tiny and can't accommodate us all. They invite us to take a look for ourselves and a quick peek inside confirms this wisdom so we quietly step back in line, determined to treat ourself with some Genovese chocolate for an authentic easter weekend despite our tired legs and cold toes.

Inside the scene is a marvel. The place is tiny and feels timeless in its simplicity. Pale pink painted walls. A glass counter full of small trays filled with chocolates begging to be sampled. The back shelves are lined with the larger easter treats, eggs wrapped in shiny foil, bunnies and rainbow sprinkled cookies. To the sides are narrow shelves filled with an array of wicker trays holding we're not sure what, but that will soon be revealed while watching the uniformed ladies who serve the customers. They gracefully take out the wicker trays one at a time, carry them to the counter, and fill take away boxes will rows of carefully selected pralines. A young man dressed in white occasionally steps through a curtained doorway that must surely lead to the kitchen, the place where the real magic happens, but all we see is him adding new wicker baskets to the shelves that we now know hold their signature pralines.

At the time it all seemed so normal, the quiet civility of it all. Only now as I am writing and reflecting can I never immagine a similar scene down south. The single file line outside and the patient waiting inside would be a defiance of human nature in Sicily. There people thrive on chaotic crowding and the resultant physical contact which leads to small talk or collective complaining, a need for eye contact and communication. There you have to pay attention and hold your ground otherwise you may never get your turn. 

Our turn came almost immediately, silently and without effort. The 5 year old picked the tiny easter eggs. Hubby got pralines and little bags full of small disks of every shade of chocolate. We'll sample some today and bring the rest home to share with family and friends. Today, easter Sunday, will be sweet, not only for the chocolate, but also because the rain has finally stopped, we'll be able to get out and about and enjoy Genoa outdoors today. Buona Pasqua! 


4 comments:

  1. Thank you, you took me there... between your photos and description it felt like I was almost experiencing this moment in the chocolate shop myself. A real Italian (Genovese) moment and holiday ritual. These are the things I hope to experience when traveling...the real thing. I love the quiet in the shop (so un-Sicilian of me), the almost dim lighting. Beautiful... Enjoy the chocolates and Buona Pasqua to you and your family! XO

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    1. thank you Janis! hope you had a lovely holiday

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  2. So cool! I agree, you can learn a lot about a region's unique culture from the way people behave in these situations. Such civility, for example, is nearly unheard of in mainland China. :-)

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    1. haha! China and Sicily probably have more in common than we realize.

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