Nuovo Ano, Italian Style
He’d put his book away, grabbed the small suitcase from overhead, and was ready for arrival. The Italian announcement was then repeated in English.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we will be arriving shortly at Firenze Santa Maria Novella. Please make sure to collect all your personal property and deposit any trash in the station receptacles.
It had been a long six hour train ride from Trentuno, where he’d been on business. The flight back home was in two days but he wanted to be in Florence for their famous New Year’s Eve festivities.
In addition, before departing for this trip, an Italian neighbor mentioned that coincidentally his band was performing at a jazz event in the Oltrano Quarter that evening. His plan was to catch the performance then head to Piazzale Michelangelo before midnight to catch the fireworks.
He chose The Hotel Dali strictly by name, as he was a fan of the surrealist artist. The room was lovely and he stretched out to relax and refresh for the evening’s adventures.
It was a ten minute walk from his hotel to Piazza della Signoria. Crowds always gathered to snap photos of the sculptures, and today the square was curiously thronged with short people, as if tour buses full of dwarves had disembarked. He worked his way through the unusual crowd towards Bellini’s sculpture of Perseus with Medusa’s head. At the base a string quartet was playing Love Me Tender, an Elvis impersonator providing vocals.
Near the Loggia a quintessential older Italian woman with head scarf was working the tourists; hand out, soliciting money.
Glancing back at the square he saw a dozen men, marching in formation, wearing nothing but red underwear, each holding an empty wine glass, chanting: Nuovo. Ano. Nuovo. Ano. His Italian was minimal but he understood New and Year.
As they receded in the distance he made eye contact with the Italian woman and she was instantly upon him, hand out.
Per i serpenti, per i serpenti, she repeated. Serpenti? Snakes? Was he hearing right?
She grabbed his hand tightly, tugging him away from the crowd, under and behind one of the arches.
Per i serpenti, she repeated. Nutrire i serpenti. Snakes? Feed? Say what . . .?
She suddenly reached up and pulled her scarf back, revealing that her head was covered not with hair, but snakes. She looked deep into his eyes and he stood frozen in fear.
He awoke startled, frantically looking around his room. It was dark outside. Glancing at his watch he relaxed, seeing he still had enough time to grab a quick meal and head out for the evening’s revelry.
A few hours later, having enjoyed his neighbor’s band, he was standing underneath a sky full of fireworks and surrounded by celebrating people, a number of who gave him hugs and cheek kisses. One woman had handed him a bunch of grapes from a basket, which he now was savoring, as he walked back towards his hotel and into the new year.
Thirty-one of thirty-one stories — 500 words or less, written one-per-day during December 2018 — The Hunt & Peck Parables PatchWord Quilt™©.
© AleXander Hirka 2019. All Rights Reserved.