A Letter from Katie Botkin in Rome:
Antonio is intrigued, but still very confused, so he takes me back to the pizza oven and finds someone who speaks slightly more English than he does. It is enough to get the point across. I find a photo on the wall of Marc, Louis’ father, from when all the family but Louis came to visit the Italian cousins, and point. Antonio asks me, in Italian, which one of the brothers pictured is my boyfriend. I shake my head. He says, oh, he was the one in Iraq. I nod. “Si, si,” I say. Is he still in Iraq, or did he come back? Asks Antonio. I beckon cheerfully to indicate that in fact, he has come back.
At this point, two other older men, the other two brothers who own the pizzaria, come out and kiss me on both cheeks. They welcome me in Italian, and I sit down, and order in (bad) Italian. That much I can do. My pizza comes, along with my sparkling water, and a few locals come in and sit down. I can hear Antonio explaining to one well-dressed couple who I am. The man speaks English, and he tells me, grandly, that this is the best place for Roman pizza in all of Rome. It’s the best pizza I’ve had in Rome, anyway. It is nothing like American pizza, and the crust is so thin in spots that it crumbles like a cracker. The olives, salty and plump, still have the pits in them.
I finish the entire pizza, and I ask the waiter for the bill. He goes off, and Antonio comes back. “No, no,” he says, waving his hand at me. He turns and asks the couple to translate for him.
“No, no,” the woman repeats, waving her hand.
“It’s only one pizza,” the man finishes for Antonio.
The other two brothers come out again and kiss me goodbye, along with Antonio. They say to give their regards to Luigi and Marco. I nod. The well-dressed man repeats this for me in English case I haven’t understood.
And then I head back towards the metro, with a full stomach, smiling.