The Italian Mafia

“Where did you start?”

A voice came from the right as Josh and i were drinking our beer. Marcos, a friendly faced man in a fedora sat down next to us with his 18 month old son Matteo. He must have seen our bikes parked out front of the pizza place at which we had found ourselves. (By pizza I don’t mean pizza hut, im talking real authentic fresh italian pizza) We had come to know this place by accident after passing through the town of Ravenna. There was a beach near by and a decent amount of cover from the thick trees across the street that we could potentially camp in. Considering our arrival to this strip of bars and resteraunt along the beach we decided it was a bit premature to set up camp across the street in the thin slice of woods in hopes of not getting caught. As we rode, scanning for the perfect place to waste a few hours before the sun went down we saw the sign. WiFi free zone.

“I bought you a beer”

Josh said as I arrived back to our table to a giant 1 liter bottle of beer. Shortly after, Marcos and his “mini-me” Matteo sat down to ask us about our trip. He invited us to enjoy a cookout with him and some friends. We were introduced to some of the most amazing people I’ve met on this trip including, but not limited to, Marcos’s wife who was Spanish, living in Italy, and had a northern english accent. She had spent some time living there and thus adopted the accent. We met the three brothers, all who were around 50 and very into surfing and kite boarding. One of the brothers was the twin of Antonio Banderes if he were 7ft tall with bushy hair. Some of the most beautiful Italian women including my favorite, the one in the yellow shirt. Before we ate Marcos brought us to the beach for what he called “romantic time.” As he pointed in the direction of the water he talked about the tanker ships and natural gas rigs out in the water. This place was once rich in natural gas to the point that fires would start on land from gas spewing from the earth. This, among other things would usually be blamed on witchcraft. He pointed to the two wind turbines in the distance along the shore and went on about the importance of renewable resources and the ridiculous argument against them, that they are an eye sore. At this point it was time to eat and we made our way to the family style table where everyone sat facing eachother on wooden benches as pitchers of beer and bread were passed around. As all 15 or so of us were sitting around the table the feeling of warmth and family continued grow like the candles on the table or the red sun setting behind us. So much food was then brought out including piles of different kind of meat and sausage, grilled peppers and tomatoes. “Here I can’t eat all this” Antonio Banderes said as he handed me a peice of grilled melted cheese wrapped in some kind of thinly sliced meat from fucking heaven.

More beer.

“Speech! We want you to speech!”

Josh, feeling motivated instantly got up on the wooden bench and mentioned what we both were feeling at that moment. In his speech standing tall on his chair looking down on the table of half empty beer glasses, rib bones and food scraps he told the honest truth that this was the best hospitality we had received this entire trip and were incredibly greatful to have met such amazing people.

One of the brothers whipped out a knife..

..and cut up a giant watermelon which he put on plates and individually handed out to everyone.

More melon .

More beer.

More conversation. Never feeling out of touch because everyone did their best too speak english. Always smiling, my heart felt warm.

Marcos brought out a drink for Josh and i which was made from the skin of grapes used to make wine, fermented in wooden barrels. It tasted like whiskey.

Little tiny cups of espresso.

Coffee ice cream which was more cream than ice and the greatest topper to an amazing meal spent with our new family. Marcos looked at me as i was in a moment of bliss and said, “you know Jason, this is the Italian mafia”

The night as then finished off with a 2 mile walk down the starry beach with our new friends to three different bars all with different styles of live music from the italian jam band playing songs in Italian which apparently were dirty with titles such as ‘anal history’ and 3 or 4 kids walking around like zombies as if to say “I’m tired, put me to bed.” The second bar had a band that resembelled the strokes with ‘the cure’ style singing in English and finally a giant dance party with a dj and 100’s of beautiful people dancing on the beach. “Who cares, I’ll never see any of these people again” Josh said as he swung his arms and jumped around thru the crowd of younger attractive italians dancing to the loud music. In the distance we saw fireworks, once again welcoming us to our home for the night. As we walked passed a paticularly fishy smell of the ocean, one of the brothers mentioned, “smells like sex.”

Our Italian expirience has been great. Everyday has been beautiful and above all this time with our new friends, our new family, I have never felt so welcomed and appreciated.

The next day, as I sat with Marcos at a small table over looking the Adriatic sea with a cool breeze coming off the ocean he reiterated a point which sticks with me everywhere. Positive outlook attracts positive situations. When youre an open door its easier for good people and situations to walk into your life. As we sipped the glass of wine and sprite he had brought out we talked about the importance of actually experiencing life and not just bragging about which hotel you stayed in. Don’t get dumbed down by the everyday speeding train of life. Put down your phones, read a book, and travel.

From the mouth of Marcos himself, “Make sure when you get back to the states that you tell everyone how terrible it is here and how Italians are all assholes.”

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