My husband’s family is originally from Parravicino, (a small town) near Como. We still meet at their place (we still go to their family house) on Christmas and on other occasions. Each member of our “peculiar” – and large – family, I dare to say, is quite of a character, in fact there is never a dull moment when we are all together.
Now, my youngest sister in law, A., (my husband has 1 brother and 2 sisters) is 22. She’s as pretty and witty as a young woman can be and she now got a fashionable but quite demanding job in Milan. So we suggested that she moved from her own to our place in Milan but of course you may happen to feel lonely when you’re sort of a newcomer in town, in a house that is not your home, without the ruckus of a big family around
So, I gave it a thought and, once I was in Milan, I took my young sis to Carla’s Bar Jamaica.
The Jamaica Bar is a century old pub in the district of Brera, which has always been renowned to be the place in Milan where all the most eminent intellectuals and artists have been meeting ever since its foundation. And yet the essence of the Bar Jamaica is nothing I can describe nor something you can understand just dropping by: you need to “live” the life it offers to be able to say that you really know it.
When I was about A.’s age I was pretty and witty myself, but also quite gloomy and, as an only child, I often happened to feel sad and lonely. Then one evening some friends took me to this (at first sight quite lousy actually) place, I met Carla who’s the soul and spirit of Bar Jamaica (as her granny used to be from its foundation back in 1911 until 1998. She died in 2002 and is still missed, so is her son Elio Mainini who died few years ago). I, then, basically moved there for approx. the following 4 years of my life.
And there I met many different kind) of people… Sods and soulmates, young and old, men and women, famous and unknown… I also met my husband there during a scuffle between two boys brimming with testosterone! And in this colourful mess of always changing and always meeting different people, every now and then Carla picks somebody and kind of adopt them to be part of the family. This gives you a strong sense of belonging that allows you to go back after no matter how many years and to just feel comfortable with yourself, with all those people you haven’t seen for ages who still hang out and even with the new ones that you have never seen before.
The other day, when I eventually took A. there for an aperitif, (while I was) trying to explain her what it feels like being (there), a friend said something that I definitely agree with:
“it’s like going back to the orphanage (where) you (happily) grew up in and meeting all your fellow orphans, those who came before you and those who arrived when you had already gone your way into the world. You all are different, but you all were in pursuit of something that you found there”.
And Carla… Well Carla, I assume, wouldn’t really appreciate to be talked about I assume, but she’s kind of the “Miss Peregrine” of the orphanage for peculiar children. She can see the hidden beauty, the spark, the talent inside people that are often so different from each other) (who often strongly dislike one and other) and draw them together so that they can thrive.