Pizza and an opera you couldn’t top
We were backpackers, not opera buffs, but when in Milan …
On our first day in Italy, we heard that cheap standingroom tickets were available at La Scala, the famous opera house. As it was already early evening and we didn’t want our growling stomachs to contribute to the orchestration, my partner headed off to find food we could eat while in the long queue. An hour passed before I reached the top of the line, yet he had not returned. As tickets were sold only to people present, I reluctantly bought just one. This was in the days before mobile phones, so I had no way of making contact. If I’d been able to call, I would have had trouble containing my fury. How long could it take to find pizza in the middle of an Italian city?
Hearing of my plight, a traveller offered me a spare Areserve seat for the same price as a standing-room ticket. Excitement now mingled with anxiety. I had two tickets but, assuming disaster had befallen the love of my life, I couldn’t abandon my post and go to enjoy the opera … or could I? Fortunately I didn’t have to decide as my partner arrived minutes before the doors closed. His cheery comment (“You wouldn’t believe what happened!”) was met by me throwing him the standing-room ticket and stalking into A-reserve.
La Scala didn’t disappoint and I immersed myself in Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia, a raucous comedy about (as most operas seem to be) a love triangle, spiced by a little cross-dressing. In the foyer afterwards, my partner told his tale, one well worthy of an opera script. Having come face to face with the tragic reality of pizza in Italy (horrendously expensive with one piece of topping per quarter), he visited a well-known multinational burger chain. But the wait was too long so he rushed out, swinging the huge glass door too strongly. It must not have smashed into pieces until he was halfway down the street, unknowingly pursued by a mob of staff and locals. Once caught (literally), his lack of Italian did not assist his defence. Opera saved the day; after repeating “La Scala! La Scala!” and pointing to his watch, the police allowed him to leave.
Once we had fully recounted both sides of the evening’s adventure, we were as reconciled as the main characters were in the dying moments of Il Turco. We were also extremely hungry. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. au. Columnists receive a set of four Lonely Planet Make My Day guidebooks for London, New York, Paris and Tokyo, offering mix-and-match itineraries for morning, afternoon and evening. $99.96 ($24.99 each). More: lonelyplanet.com.