Pistoia, Italy: Part One.

Manuel’s car speeds up to Pistoia’s train depot shortly after 9pm. I get into the car, knowing only his first name and my stomach is growling holy hell. Pistoia, a city in the Tuscany region of Italy, is the second stop on my mini tour of Italy.

20, 30, 60 miles an hour we zip like bandits, winding around a narrow road.

“What a- you like to do?” he asks. “You want to eat?”

Trees are whipping past us with a terrific blast of wind, avoiding contact by less than a centimeter. I’m starting to question whether meeting random Europeans on the internet was really a good idea.

“Uh, it’s really up to you…” I say, terrified.

“You want to go out or we make-a-the dinner?”

“I don’t care.” (Just get me the fuck out of this car.)

“We make-a-the dinner.”

Manuel pushes harder on the accelerator and it’s full speed ahead to Pistoia’s version of a Piggly Wiggly.

His tiny car screeches to the curb and before I could remove my seat belt, Manuel is standing outside my door, shouting.

“We go. We hurry! We get the rice. We run.”

We are running around the supermarket. Me following behind him, sprinting. Past the freezer section and the soups, past signs in Italian, past leisurely shopping patrons. Then it occurs to me. “Why the hell are we running?”

We are like lightning, finally stopping before a variety of pastas.

“We make a risotto. You like a risotto?”