I look back to my days in elementary school with nostalgia. I was living in Milano at the time, in a small, familiar neighborhood I had always thought of as home. I already knew the city by heart, and one of the events I most looked forward to was going to the local ‘cartoleria’ with a carefully curated list by our teacher which included the exact amount of squared and lined textbooks, colored textbook covers, pencils, blue and red pens, agenda… and if you were lucky you’d have a new backpack and pencil case to be adorned by everyone’s personal signature.
This is all to explain why I was so excited to host an olive oil tasting at one of two Italian-American full-immersion schools in the United States: La Scuola in San Francisco. I met parents and children on the opening day of classes, by the school’s playground. Italian and English were being spoken all around. The dream I share with my father, to use Libellula as an educational and cultural tool, just came to life.
Buona scuola ragazzi!
Today is the day for the alumnae tea and olive oil tasting in the hills north of San Francisco. We met in the living room of a recent alumna and learned about one another’s lives, from work to family to travel, finding that our paths looked all so different and all so fascinating, while sharing experiences from our time at Smith. There may be little that bonds so much as a shared experience.
On my way to the event I had the privilege of driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, majestically covered by the thick fog. Did you know that the bridge is actually painted orange and not red? The eye can deceive!
My idea of a perfect ending to the day is time spent deep in thought (or lost in thought) at a bookstore. And I did exactly that at my favorite one: City Lights in the Italian neighborhood of SF. I left with a book by Milan Kundera, but only after I narrowed down from the ten others I wanted to magically fit in my suitcase.
Oh! Another perfect ending to the day? A neapolitan pizza.
As we were driving northward from Los Angeles we saw two paraglider’s calmly flying above the highway. Richelle and I spontaneously exclaimed we wanted to be up there like them, in the clouds looking down at the ground from a new perspective. So we looked up people in the Bay Area who could take us up in the sky with them, and in the matter of ten minutes we had an appointment booked for Saturday at 1PM.
So we arrive amid the fog of a chilly Northern Californian day as mentally prepared as we can be. What we didn’t realize was that it was mostly emotional rather than mental. The take-off was comedically rocky, but once in the sky the view took over our thoughts. We sat there, guided by the wind, feet dangling, observing the landscape below, the waves gently crashing where they met land, the side of the mountain bare with rock after a mini avalanche, black dots of people moving about slowly, like ants but without a clear direction. My instructor, who I was flying with, kept asking me how I was doing. I couldn’t explain it in the moment, because I’d gone quiet and was indeed not in the mood to converse. It was me, small, recent grad and all her thoughts about the future, and the overwhelming beauty of nature. Yes, my life may be uncertain or inconsistent now. But is it ever really certain? Nature manages to be both a constant and ever-changing. Like the shape of waves crashing ashore, or the facade of a mountain freshly torn open.
This evening we went out dancing (finally!) but I was cold from being up so high, and still taking in what I had seen, my eyes too small to fully comprehend.
Alas! I shifted gears gears for the day and went back to a campus. Can I already be longing for books and essay-writing, having graduated from undergrad only three months ago? Most of the day was spent this way, exploring the campus, meeting prospective students (the program is an MBA) and listening to admissions officers. I had several sparks of creativity during this four-hour period. I have a feeling brain waves are magically transferred around when students are thinking so hard in a condensed area. It felt good to stand on fertile ground for innovation, especially as we think about future steps for Libellula.
In the evening we had homemade Taiwanese dinner by my friend’s parents. We’re preparing ourselves because tomorrow we fly!
A full day is a happy day. Today we woke up in Cupertino, made a necessary stop at Blue Bottle Coffee (one of my favorite cappuccino’s ever) in Palo Alto, and then headed to San Francisco for the olive oil tasting I’ve been looking forward to since we left D.C., at the design and consulting firm known as IDEO. The office was by the piers on the water. The cracks in the wooden floors revealed the water below, and the garage doors were lifted to invite a gentle breeze. Prosecco, cheeses, prosciutto and Libellula olive oil made for a special Thursday afternoon aperitivo. A wonderful way to start our time in SF!
This evening I had dinner with a friend from college at a place called Trick Dog which reinvents its menu every few months. Delicious food accompanied by complex cocktails.
Ciao for now LA! We’re on the road again. This time driving along the coast rather than towards it. Our FIAT 500X is re-stocked with Libellula EVOO, and we’re ready for the next adventure. We took our time but decided to go straight towards the Bay Area, with a stop in Los Olivos, a small town just north of Santa Barbara dotted with wineries and wine shops. Epiphany was our choice for the day, where we tried two white wines, one delicate and one robust. We had a Mexican dinner in Salinas right before landing in Cupertino. It feels good to be back in the Bay Area!
Busy bees today. We had a lunch tasting at WeWork nearby the new Eataly in Century City. Lunch at the local Urth Cafe and then a stop at Pour Haus, a wine shop and study spot in one. By the way, I love the idea of combining wine and work, rather than coffee. I do sometimes prefer to combine an aperitivo with my emails! On our way we spotted a film crew filming an advert for a slick new blue car.
This evening we had a lovely dinner and EVOO tasting with alumnae from all over the US, now based in LA. It was warm and familiar, and the charcuterie board delicious along with our olive oil. So many great connections and insights. Another beautiful home and another insider view into an alumna’s life post-grad. Grazie Dana!