Or, as Maria put it, Thelma and Louise in a Low Rider Doing Under the Tuscan Sun in Basilicata With a Toilet Brush (the complete title).
The paperwork was signed. The deed was read aloud in a tiring session in a notaio's office. The house officially became ours. Maria and I packed the Fiesta and prepared to hit the road that would transport us south to Basilicata. Giorgio told us all was well with our trusty little car. He had replaced the battery and had it looked over by his mechanic. Tutt’OK, he said, so I hadn’t had any reason to think anything would be amuck.
Suitcases, duffel bags, and Bryan’s tool box were all neatly stowed. I got in, excited to be on my way to my new home, only to discover that the driver’s seat was broken, stuck into a strange position that elevated my knees to the steering wheel while dropping my caboose to the floor. Hmm, definitely not how we left it.
I reached below my right knee and lifted the lever that controls the seat gizmo. Niente. Several tries, no movement. Giorgio got in and yanked at it; he didn’t remember adjusting the seat in that peculiar manner but couldn’t figure out how to get it back to its normal upright and locked position, either. Things were getting ready to turn into an ordeal as he and Francesca were making noises about taking it to a mechanic. Maria and I wanted only to get out of Dodge and be on our way, so we cut off all talk of meccanicos and repair shops by hopping in and roaring away.
I felt like I was in a low-rider with my butt scraping the pavement, forcing the rest of me into an uncomfortable recline. All I needed was the tricked-out wheels and leather-twine covered steering wheeling to be a covergirl for Lowrider Magazine. Well, that and more cleavage.
With my knees slapping the steering column we laid down a bit of rubber on the Grande Raccordo Annulare, the ring road that encircles Rome, and hit the accelerator. We whooped with joy when we hit the A-1 autostrada, Thelma and Louise on the open road whizzing past ancient hilltop villages and blowing past Fiats.
When my hips could no longer stand the pressure of the seat position, Louise – er, I mean Maria – took over, thus giving her a new adventure…driving in Italy for the very first time. She worked it like a real Italian and zigged through traffic, rode the center line like a native-born driver, and gestured expertly at a slow poke.
The roads became less trafficked, the mountains swelled before us, the elevation change strained the engine. We had arrived in Basilicata. We started uphill from the Basento Valley just as the sun was starting to recede, casting a magical glow upon the hilltop towns around us. We bounced over ruts on the narrow, twisty road, Louise’s rear firmly planted on the chassis.
We arrived at the agriturismo to find enthusiastic hugs from Peppino and Giovanna, a warm fire, and a family dinner of homemade specialties laid out in eager hospitality.