Let me tell you about my first “apartment” after Antonio’s boarding house. It was actually just a room in an apartment owned by an old Italian woman who lived alone. Signora Capellini didn’t speak a word of English and I was only just learning Italian myself. I had been fluent in Spanish earlier so it wasn’t too hard to pick up. However, unlike Spanish, basically every single verb in Italian is irregular, so I spent several weeknights studying in my little room.
Signora Capellini was sweet as could be but seemed quite distressed that I didn’t know how to make pasta from scratch. She was also dismayed that I was a single woman who moved to Milan on her own and that I didn’t return to America for each religious holiday. Italy has religious holidays ALL THE TIME.
Yet, she got over my culinary and religious shortcomings and all was fine until I asked if I could take photos of a female model in my room / bathroom. There was a beautiful old claw-foot bathtub that had lovely afternoon light. I was straddling the bathtub on the top rim while shooting down at the naked model when Signora Capellini walked in. All I remember was a hearing a lot of “Dio Mio’s” and “Oh la Madonna’s”.
I was out by the weekend.
Luckily by then, I had befriended Juan Gil who owned Shades of Grey, the go-to darkroom / printer in Milan. He needed a new apartment as well and found a sublet (from a crazy chick) on Via Cesare da Sesto near Piazza Sant’ Agostino. Finally, my first apartment after several months of dragging around that ridiculous suitcase. Juan had a Dutch girlfriend, Judith, and eventually my Japanese friend Jaimee moved in as well. We had our own little Benetton Ad going on in that apartment with 4 nationalities. Dinners were especially fun with Juan making Mexican, Judith with her cheeses and beer, and Jaimee with her attempts at sushi, and I say attempts only because at that time you could only buy Italian foods / ingredients. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention my contribution to cooking. I had none.
Everything was great on Via Cesare da Sesto until I met the Mafia dude.