Surreptitious browsing in my favourite Rovereto store.
Something of a joke among our friends here is that this area is too wealthy. Why is this a problem? Because it means that making money just does not seem to be a priority. And a business proprietor uninterested in making money is also uninterested in their customer. In our small Italian town that means opening hours are limited. Monday mornings, Saturday afternoons and Sundays are all common closing times. Long, 3 or 4 hour lunchtime closes are not uncommon.
Time and time again I find my perfect shopping time is a shop's preferred closing time. On slow, lazy mornings I leave my house just as the stores are closing. Or after lunch, as my meal is digesting and I haven't regained my work rhythm, I might venture out for stamps. This is always a mistake. Our first summer here, I was often the sole inhabitant on the city's streets at 3 pm on a hot July afternoon. If the Roveretani hadn't already disappeared to their mountain houses, they were shut behind the wooden shutters, not daring to go out in the heat of the day.
I am quite happy to live in a city where shopping is not encouraged. Where even the facades of stores seem to retreat into themselves. When their metal grills are down they are almost unnoticeable. It was some months before I realised there was a bread shop on corner, and in fact a number of stores hide in what I had originally thought was our quiet residential street.
This photo, in which I have been told I look rather guilty, is in one of my favourite stores. Because it so perfectly encapsulates the erraticness of a small town. The proprietor is rather crotchety. Browsing in the store is not encouraged. Touching is forbidden. My mother was encouraged to leave because she was so obviously a visitor. Non toccare (don't touch) signs are everywhere and if you do presume to browse, the proprietor will be bustling and busy in your way, no matter where you step. I invent items to buy, just to take guests in there. Often it will be a dish brush, sometimes a cookie cutter.
On this occasion the proprietor had a friend visiting. Allowing my visitor and I to poke around, to take a photo. This was considered a success.
A lot of visitors must wander in because it is so inviting. A veritable magpie nest of shiny cookie cutters, crowds of tea cups and a clutter of kitchenware: the most anti-minimalist of displays. In the great tradition of Italian stores, all the merchandise is also displayed in the window. So if you do want to browse you must do it outside.