Lucio loved the morning sun. But then he loved dawn even more. that slice of heaven before the world had woken up and the sky and water were joined in a happy marriage of peace serenity and beautiful but shy colors which seemed to greet him as he hurried with the flame and the water and placing the chairs just so. The beautiful dawn that teased him out of his bed and back to the kitchen where stainless steel flasks and casks and gleaming machines waited patiently for him, where the coffee beans piled in mocha piles waiting for the generous and sure touch of fire before spilling their delicious scent to flood the kitchen and the Caffé out the front and into the street. That was the first step, and then Alfredo the gangly pastry chef would come in bringing the beauties as required. Mrs. Smartelli up the road always wanted her bread here. She said her husband insisted. Then Giorgio would amble in for the paper and the conversation and the coffee, straight from the moka coffeepot. A few other people liked their brew from the moka coffee pot, the more traditional homemade coffee. So as soon as he woke he kept the moka on a burner with a steady supply of grounds.
Before you knew it the Caffé would come alive with the men having an easy morning. Always they would discuss politics and the church; the men laughing raucously and smacking sun tanned hands on knees in hilarity. Sometimes a wife would come in with a flurry of words that was too often said to have a sting and the husband would walk out of the Caffé with his paper in hand headed home obediently with his wife in tow and the Caffé waving him off. Why would he want to leave? The whole Caffé would be engulfed in laughter with men laughing until tears streaked the creases in their eyes and the peace and camaraderie was restored.
They went back with their slice of life, taking the ultimate experience of many years of achieving perfection in the coffee beans they took away in yummy gulps. All the time confessing their love for it in the only Italian words they all seemed to know well. Bene, molto bene. And he would smile. Caffé Buono coffee and food was always going to be good. It definitely had a name to live up to. Even though he loved the tourist they all seemed so measly fleeting that when the winter came and the whipping of the sea drove everyone indoors except of the hardiest of customers congregated in his shop. Even the beautiful Carolina who had been widowed nine years now would brave the angry winds and make it in for her coffee. She would take several pastries with her and made her way uphill after several fortifying cups of espresso.
When the evening changed the sky so did the face of the restaurant would change , gone would be the casual smattering of chairs in its place were the more intimate arrangement of tables for the ones who had a desire to dine out. He would give out the pastries in preparation for the sweet cloud of steaming pasta and coffee to compete until they drove the mind to a frenzy of hunger. The menu had much more than to Panini sandwiches, salads, cheeses, dressings, fresh vegetables and several meats and risottos. He was magic with the kitchen and a delight with the pasta; the roasting process was always delicate. Of course the beans were definitely important. He bought the Arabica beans or the Robusta beans, it roasted well and it was always well preserved and the oils would come flooding the beans and the popping sound of the beans protesting in the steel machine. It was a bit more time under that heat before the beauty was revealed, what is a little pain for a masterpiece in a cup.
Then the day would wind down and they would everyone find their way home with the wives retrieving the husbands amidst gales of laughter and practiced indignation. Then it would remain me and the swirling aroma of the coffee in the air then I would clean off the tables and the chairs returned to positions for the morning. Then I would walk down to the docks where the stars and the moon was winking with loads of coquet to the sea then I would return to my apartment at the top of the Caffé and turn into bed with the sound of the sea drawing and receding lulling me to sleep in the beautiful arms of Collodi the aroma of the coffee. It never went away.