Keeping it in the family
We do get to visit some wonderful places in our industry. Italy ranks high up the list for me. I've always been absorbed by the contrasting history, culture, society and geography of each region.
Though visiting Sicily for the first time a few years ago, was a real eye opener. At the end of my visit, we had lunch at a restaurant that looked out across the sea. It was a glorious spring afternoon and the dining room was crammed full with happy, noisy people. We had no booking, but on our arrival words were exchanged between my host and the owner, and immediately the best table in the room was free for us to sit down. I'm convinced the table was occupied when we arrived.
Having eaten our lunch, in my case with a sense of unease, we returned to the winery and I was asked if I would like to drive a Ferrari 328 GTS, polished and waiting in the courtyard, to the airport.
The temptation was too great! As we followed the coast road to Palermo, I was heartedly instructed to "give her the full beans" as we hit a long straight carriageway.
With the engine screaming at 10,000 revs we shot under a bridge where a local cop was waiting out of sight on the other side. With blue lights flashing, he gunned his motorcycle and I pulled over.
I was told to stay put as my host marched down the hard shoulder. I really thought that my number was up and that they'd chuck me in the slammer and throw away the key!
On his return, he said "Andiamo, Nick, to the airport!" On quizzing him further I found out that the local chief of police was a personal friend, and that he'd told the traffic cop that "If he still wanted his job on Monday morning, he should f*** off and find something else to do!"
It's good to know that the local police engage so readily and willingly with the community ...