Character Guest Post . . .
I came to Italy expecting delicious food. I mean, who doesn’t know about Italy’s amazing pasta, pizza and ice cream? Excuse me, gelato. And trust me—they’ve lived up to the hype and more.
But it’s the pastries that took me by surprise. I thought France had a lock on European baked goods, and boy was I wrong. I almost wish I hadn’t discovered Café Antica just around the corner from my apartment in Rome. I’ve become something of a regular, stopping by each morning after my husband goes to work.
We’re here in Rome on his expat assignment, and I’ve been trying to enjoy life as a woman of leisure. Let’s just say it hasn’t come naturally to me. So bonding with the owners of my local café over the challenges of raising children has given me a hint of normalcy in this world where I feel very much out of my depth.
Like many cafes in Italy, Café Antica has an enormous glass case loaded each morning with mini tarts stuffed with Chantilly cream and tiny strawberries, chocolate-dipped butter cookies, lumpy mounds of nuts in chewy meringue, perfect squares of layered chocolate, and ten different types of biscotti.
But it’s the cornetto that I can’t resist. Smaller and less buttery than a French croissant, it’s served up plain or stuffed with chocolate, jam, or anything else the owner can dream up. I don’t even want to think about how many Weight Watchers Points are in each serving!
Each day I tell myself I’ll make something healthy at home. Yogurt and Muesli, maybe, or a piece of dry toast and cottage cheese. But then I get one whiff of buttery pastry and I can’t resist. And besides, being a local at a café has given me at least one concrete thing to do each day.
My routine be changing soon, though. I’ve just landed a job with Masterpiece Tours, a company offering painting tours of Rome to well-heeled travelers. It’s a far cry from my old executive position back home, but it was all I could find. I met the owner, Lord Philip Walpole, at a cocktail party. An acquaintance introduced us, saying Lord Philip needed help in his office and that I was a whiz, and that was good enough. He hired me on the spot.
My husband thinks there’s something odd about the fact Lord Philip runs a tour out of his penthouse, which occupies the entire fifth floor of a 17th-Century palazzo on the Piazza Navona. The tour brochure promises guests a home away from home with full access to the living room, dining room, painting studio, and rooftop terrace. But why would a man with such resources open his home to tourists?
I don’t have an answer, but I’m sure it’s above board. It has to be. Because now that I’ve taken the job, I can’t even consider walking away from it. That would prove my husband is right about this being a mistake, and I’m not about to admit that. I may be many things, but I’m not a quitter.
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