My friends complain. In fact they complain a lot. Often it is directed at their high-school counselors (“Why didn’t they point out writing? Oh yeah, it had no money in it!”) More often it’s directed at me. “What trip are you taking now? I don’t want to hear about it.” Click.
I don’t blame them, not least of all because I can be pretty smug. Becoming a writer was a pretty good decision for me all things considered. (Though the counselors were right: There is no real money in it. Damn details!)
But there are assignments and there are assignments. When a magazine like Outside Go calls up (or perhaps when I call them up, as in this case), and an ideal scenario is presented, magic happens. The scenario: Fly to Sicily for a road trip, driving the brand new, not-yet-seen-on-American shores, Ferrari California. [Read the story on my site here, or on Outside Go itself.]
So it was that my buddy Joshua Paul, whom I often work with on assignments (and yes, whom I often am found drinking with in various parts of NYC), found ourselves on the way to Palermo. In all we’d get the Ferrari California for two days… precious time — a good part which we would argue with each other. Josh wanted to stop and take photos (often), while I wanted to drive-drive-drive.
We worked it out (mostly), but in addition to simply driving a beautiful and fast car at rather insane speeds — the local police were quite forgiving — there was the attendant joy of piloting a car that the locals loved. After all, Italians are more proud of Ferrari than they are of pasta, pizza and the mafia combined. Talk about patrimony.
[“Mama mia! I’m in a real Ferrari!”]
Hence the locals greeted us as heroes. They loved us — or, more specifically, they loved us for bringing the car to them.
People wanted to get in the car, pet the car, take pictures of the car, take the car home and cook it a nice meal and then have their way with it. And we let them (all except for that last bit). Because in truth, what’s most fun about a car like the California isn’t just its speed or even its beauty. It’s the ability to share that excitement.
[“I’ll never be able to buy one of these selling olives!”]
That’s a good feeling. International travel has become much easier for us Americans since Obama has taken over (thank god), but even in the worst of the Bush years, a new shiny red Ferrari would have helped out things considerably.
Those two days were spectacular. Sicily is beautiful and we made lots of friends. We had the key to every city. Consider this: We’re driving on a lonely single road track on top of a craggy hill with a big wind blowing, and we suddenly encounter a group of men toting shotguns, angry yapping dogs at their heels.
What do we do?
We jump out and introduce ourselves and ask the men if they want to take a picture with us. Shotguns are slung over shoulders, smiles breaks out, and the dogs are shushed. “E novo Ferrari?” one asks. Indeed. They open their hands and exclaim happily.
La Dolce Vita indeed.