Love, Doggie Style

Easter 2020, April 12, 2020

I wake up, I feel like shit again. I can’t shake this – whatever it is. I realize that, not only is it Easter, but its also the 28th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland Paris, known at the time as EuroDisneyland. I feel very old, indeed, and yet, I really don’t either. What a time that was. Today, the Disney Park sits silent, closed due to the Coronavirus Quarantine, the only visitors are other species – bold wildlife that don’t hold annual passes. Marne-la-Vallee ducks reclaim the Carribean and other waterways from pirates, small world boats and mermaids, stilled, like all of us, by COVID-19.

I’ve got a message from my landlord. She wants to know how I’m feeling. Two more messages. I roll over and ignore the messages. Her messages come too quickly; I can’t possibly keep up with them. The process for answering messages in Italian is complicated for me. Either I have to activate my brain, turn it to turbo power, try to conjugate correctly – a challenge this early in the morning – or I can write it in English in notes on my phone, then copy and paste it into Google Translate, then copy the translation, cut and paste it into ‎WhatsApp messenger, and then hit “send.” When I’m still in bed, this process is too daunting. So, ignore the messages.

Pre-Apocalypse, when the world turned at its normal cadence, pre-masks, before we had a positive association with sterility and back when Italians enthusiastically embraced, she had a job at the Perugino Chocolate Factory in Perugia. which I find very cool. I am an un-redemptive chocoholic. She left early to drive the 50 kilometers. Now, like many, she has lots of time on her hands that she fills on Social Media (guilty!), WhatsApp (guilty!), languorously grocery shopping (guilty!), and cooking (guilty!). She regularly leaves me treats on my doorknob. So far, no Perugino dark chocolate kisses or the pistachio, crackly, ultra-dark, chocolate bar that I love. I certainly can’t complain. She’s very generous. She’s looking out for me.

I turn over and try to go back to sleep. Chianti comes over and shoves his face into mine, his cold snout pressed up my nose so far, I can smell the bone marrow on his breath. I gave him a donut bone stuffed with marrow as an early Easter Bunny treat last night. He’s not much of a fan of chocolate bunnies, though he does like the mammal variety. He is not a subtle explorer. I pivot away. He wriggles into position to begin an excavation of my ears. I negotiate my retreat into the pillow. A hand on each side of the pillow, I push up the sides to create a buffer. I’m not quite quick enough turning, though. He manages to lick me on my lips. Yeeech! I think of Lucy from Peanuts screaming when Snoopy would delight in annoying her by taking a long, sloppy, slathering, lick of the entirety of her snotty, little face. Since I really do not like this abundance of dog saliva on my face, I stuff it further into my pillow, suffocation mode, but he will not relent. I surrender. He has thus won the morning battle with Mom and communicated that he is desperate to go out. I turn around and start teasing him; he is due some torture in return after what I endured. I scratch him behind the ears, grab his front paws to whip him around on his back to rub his stomach. He’s not having any of it. Usually, he loves this game. He wants to go out now, so he keeps twisting upright, coming at me full force and shoving his face in mine and trying to lick my face. I’m sure he knows I hate it.

I decide then, despite the danger, I’m going to let him out the front door for a quick pee before we head out for the official morning walk. I stretch to relieve my back pain, doing one toe touch, then grab the wrought iron bedframe beyond my feet at the foot of the bed with both hands to stretch out my lower back. It’s killing me now since I haven’t been able to get myself motivated to get back into yoga even though I love yoga and always feel better when I do it regularly. A slovenly sloth has possessed me and taken over my body. Tomorrow is weigh-in day. Oh dear.

Chianti is hopping around me like a mad dog at this point. He knows he’s about to be let out, so he’s going crazy, doing little circles on the bed, off the bed, back on the bed, hop on, hop off, run around, hop on again, and repeat.

I think of Dave Sedaris. I took his entire Master Class on Humor and Story-telling last night and went to bed far too late. Now I’m not well-rested. Just yesterday, I re-blogged an article about getting plenty of sleep and ignored my own advice. What shall I do with myself? I can’t discipline myself at all during this Coronavirus Catastrophe. It has me all discombobulated. So, Dave Sedaris revealed what he never divulged in any of his books – and I’ve read all of them – how much he hates dogs. How could I miss that? Now that I’ve read all his books, I can’t possibly unread them. Big sigh. Its just another one of those principles that I must shelve in middle age. They’ve been so many of them tossed out with the recycling.

I slowly move both legs over the side of the bed like I’m 150 years old and gingerly place them onto the floor with both hands cupped under my ample thighs for support. I slip my feet into my fuzzy slippers, one of which has the front toe chewed off from when Chianti was a puppy. It’s very fluffy and fuzzy so it looks like I have a little fur explosion coming out of my left foot. I shuffle to the front of the railroad-style apartment and press my nose to the frosted, privacy glass. I can tell that it’s another sunny day. I open the door and stand there, bare-bottomed, pulling down on my sweatshirt and pajama top, hoping none of the neighbors are looking out their shuttered windows from the second and third floors above, across the Via Maria Maddalena.

Since quarantine started, neighbors open their windows and crack their shutters to communicate with each other across the street and between levels. I’m at ground level. Three-way conversations between my neighbor across the street on the second level and my landlady above me on the third level are frequent. It’s early though, so the second level neighbor across Via Maddalena has her shutters shut tight. She won’t be yelling at Chianti and shooing him away from peeing on her flowerpots that flank her doorway. She must still be in bed. It’s 8:10 am. So, I let the Chianti out and stand there half naked on the threshold looking left and right like a bandit.

I’m very fuzzy today. I have a terrible headache; I’m flushed and a little dizzy. Seems I feel good one day and feel awful the next, and it’s been like this for a month. Chianti wanders off to the left which is a good thing. To the right there is trouble. For the last month, he’s been absolutely obsessed with a bitch that lives across the main ring road in a ramshackle house that has chickens and a pile of crap in the backyard. The property is very smelly. The bitch is in heat. Chianti is in love. He has morphed into a different dog. He won’t listen to me when I call out a command. He won’t come even when I hold up a milk bone.

The charming part of this love story is that right across the via Magdalena from my temporary flat is a tiny street called Vicolo Baciaddonne. Literally translated, “tiny street to kiss women.” How Italian! A plaque to the right of the street describes it as one of the tiniest streets in all of Italy (see below information translated from Italian, regarding Vicolo Baciaddonne). I glance at Chianti on my left. Suddenly, he pivots, and highspeed, he dashes through the narrow Baciaddonne passageway, that serves as his escape route.  He ignores my supplications to rejoin his Juliette. I’m not dressed. I freak out. Rushing to the back-bedroom to throw on pajama bottoms, I fume against my once adored dog.

Enraged, I conclude that Chianti is more Harvey Weinstein than Romeo. After slamming my door and running through the Vicolo Baciaddonne, like he did, I race down a set of stairs and dash across the main ring road to reach him and his fair maiden despite the likely onslaught of surprise traffic. The crossing comes just after a hairpin turn on the ring road with limited visibility. It’s the perfect place for a collision. When I get there, he’s already barged through a punched-in portion in the fencing and he’s dashing around the enclosure to the back of the house to where the bitch usually holds court.

I realize that I have absolutely no control over his sexual urges anymore. He has reached his prime and he will not take “no” for an answer. Just like Harvey Weinstein. Chianti is relentless. What has happened to my lovely, sweet puppy? I am having mother remorse. He chases the poor bitch around the enclosure in a rage of passion, completely ignoring me as I stand at the edge of the enclosure, yelling at him. It’s like a chase scene from the Capstone Cops. He is crazily, zigzagging across the enclosure with the poor bitch moving ahead of him, sitting on her hind – gold to him – every few steps, and whipping around towards him periodically, to snarl. Chianti pays no mind and keeps going at her, his nose assiduously focused on her behind. Finally, I decide that I must relieve the poor bitch of her predicament. Still on the sidelines, at the threshold of this sideshow, I, once again, think of Harvey Weinstein. He did a bit of his own forced entry and so must I or my dog will impregnate this unknown neighbor’s female dog. I’m there to stop the beast. Harvey’s minders did just the opposite.

Ever so gingerly, I trespass. I open the enclosure makeshift gate and try to close it behind me, but the whole thing falls apart. I’ve broken it. The latch falls off and the mesh detaches from the jagged post that was supporting it. The Rube Goldberg mechanism has me scratching my head, but I don’t have time to fix it, I need to pull my dog off the bitch in heat.

In front of me is a mine field. The enclosure has suffered a defecation bombing raid. I penetrate enemy territory. I’m literally on my tiptoes running ribbons behind the two dogs over a vast carpet of poop. I wonder where the owners are. If they are looking out those windows from the second floor, I’m in trouble. I wonder if someone is going to pull a gun on me and shoot. I realize I am not in America and people don’t have guns. Phew!

Finally, I reach Chianti and grab ahold of his hind, but he gets away. He is deranged. Like Harvey. He is still in hot pursuit of the fragrant bitch. She is yelping and he has got his nose to her reproductive organ focused in such a way that I haven’t seen since he last hunted truffles. No, not true, he’s much more focused than when he hunts truffles, which is now very infrequently.

Finally, I capture him, leash him, and drag him across the minefield, stomping on many scat cakes, not caring a bit. I make it to the destroyed Rube Goldberg gate. My repair job is far from perfect, but I’m too exhausted to care at this point and terribly flushed. I can’t find the latch. Chianti is pulling so hard on the leash while I’m trying to fix the gate door that I think it’s going to snap. The gate door is upright and looks approximately right, so I leave it. I’m stomping my feet to get the poop off my trainers and hear someone calling out. I flush. I was so close to getting away. Now I’m caught in the act, trespassing. I look up. The owner of the property is waving at me from the second-floor window. He’s pointing at Chianti. He’s smiling! I can’t believe it!

“Buona Pasqua!”  Happy Easter! He cries. “E buona Pasqua anche al cane!” And Happy Easter to the Dog as well! So, there will be no guns, no complaints, no yelling, no problems. It is indeed a Happy Easter. I heave up my shoulders and let out a big sign of relief. We dodged a bullet this Easter 2020.

Vicolo Baciadonne and the fireplace of lovers

The name, linked to a narrow passage, was born following a dispute between neighbors. Popular tradition tells that in the Middle Ages the two neighbors decided to detach their houses, creating an alley between 50 and 70 centimeters wide. Hence the origin of the name. Two passers-by, in fact, who find themselves going along the alley in the opposite direction, are forced to stay so close as to touch their lips. The path of the alleys of Città della Pieve, the walk along the perimeter of the walls and the Vicolo Baciadonne, are a destination for lovers from all over the world who choose Umbria for a love holiday, between nature, history and food and wine.

Getting married in Umbria: romantic walks

Vicolo Baciadonne is a romantic destination for couples who choose Umbria to seal their love, both for those who decide to get married in Umbria thus crowning their dream of love and for those who, going through the fireplace of lovers, make a lifelong promise. The romantic walk continues in search of the birthplace of Pietro Vannucci, called “Il Perugino”, one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance and master of the great Raphael. Here, between photos and passionate kisses, lovers walk along suggestive walkways, discovering a hidden side of the city, an ancient and fascinating world that brings them back to other eras.

Umbria for the newlyweds: let’s discover the truffle

The one in Città della Pieve and in Vicolo Baciadonne for lovers who choose Umbria as their love region is a journey through the pleasure of the senses, along a path full of suggestive atmospheres, between culture, nature and typical products with aphrodisiac properties that converge in a kitchen of the highest quality. One of these is the truffle, or white or black, with which you can prepare numerous delicious dishes that will conquer the couples who will taste it in the local restaurants. Exaltation of the senses, romantic truffle dinners and passionate kisses in Vicolo Baciadonne: these are just a few things dedicated to lovers in Città della Pieve, in Umbria.