**Disclaimer: The names of the people have been changed for the protection of their privacy, and for a bit of comedic effect.
Dad was to land in mid-July for his annual three-week vacation in Cinque Terre. Dad would be alone on the weekdays, and Gianni and I would arrive every weekend. We would be able to pass the whole first week of August together before Dad would return to Arizona. I organized his vacation this way so Gianni didn’t have to have my dad in our house for all of his vacation.
Dad arrived on a Thursday. I had booked a hotel down the street from the flat in Milan for one night. I took Friday off to drive Dad and the Mini-Clubman to Levanto. It was like driving a go-cart on a racetrack. Dad could barely fit into the car. Winding through the hills above the Mediterranean, through the tunnels and over the never-ending bridges, we would bump our shoulders at every turn. It reminded me of driving in Ireland in the tiny car we had rented. It could have reminded me of my childhood weekend trips with my dad—when I thought he was a secret agent working for the government. Never mind that his car had State of Arizona emblems on the doors. I took me forty-five minutes longer to drive the Serravalle than it ever took Gianni.
We settled in the villetta. Dad was always impressed with our seaside digs. We walked down to the village to get some groceries, where I had introduced my dad to all the shopkeepers. I picked up an olive loaf at the bakery. This local delicacy had to be reserved, or they would run out. Dad wanted lunchmeat and cheese to make sandwiches in our absence during the week. We hit the vegetable stand to get lettuce and tomatoes for his sandwiches and he bought Gorgonzola and Swiss cheese from the latteria.
Gianni arrived later that evening in time to go to dinner. We had introduced my father to the owners of the restaurant at the foot of the hill that led to the villetta. Dad had discovered pesto during that dinner. He called it, ”that green pasta.” He asked to try everything that was served to our table.
We took Dad to Gino’s the next morning. I had never seen Dad drink coffee. He said it soured his stomach. To my surprise, he ordered what Gianni was drinking—a cappuccino. He also asked Gino for a “sweet roll.” Gino chuckled and repeated, “Sweet roll, sweet roll.”
We went to lunch, and then Dad requested a nap in the afternoon. Gianni asked a local couple to dinner that Saturday evening. He wanted Dad to know someone local so Dad could call them if he had any problem at the villetta during the week. I thought, If he did call, what could he say?
When it was time for Gianni and me to leave on Sunday for work, we drove in his company car back to Milan. We always left the Mini for Dad to use. It was comical to see him get in and out of the miniscule station wagon.
I found that Divina® Kalamata Olive Spread for the olive focaccia loaf. I know it is a Greek product, but the loaf taste the same as the one I reserved for every weekend in Levanto.
Liberally sprinkle the top with sea salt before putting the loaf into the oven. I like HimalaSalt© Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.