by Melinda Gallo

Belated birthday dinner for my suocero

My suocero (father-in-law)'s birthday was yesterday, but because the Fiorentina (the soccer team in Florence) was playing against Everton in the UEFA Cup, he wanted to postpone his birthday dinner. When I called my suocero to wish him a happy birthday, I said, "Spero che la Fiorentina ti darÓ un bel regalo oggi! (I hope the Fiorentina will give you a beautiful gift today!)" He laughed, but in the end they did because they won 4-2 and are onto the quarterfinals.

We made reservations at a restaurant in the hills of Fiesole that Alessandro and I ate at last year with his friends. I remembered the beautiful view overlooking Florence while we ate dinner outside on the crowded terrazza (terrace) in the warm evening.

Tonight, the weather was much cooler and there were fewer people as well. When we arrived, they escorted us to the one dining room that they were serving in. There were only six tables in the room, which were mostly occupied.

When the cameriere (waiter) showed us our table, I felt as if I were being watched, so I just took off my coat and sat down in one of the chairs. When I looked up at one of the tables, there was a man who was looking straight at me. The second I saw him, I recognized him and I couldn't help but quickly look away to hide my smile.

I tried to be discreet and told Alessandro that the man at the other table was Cesare Prandelli, the allenatore (coach) of the Fiorentina. He didn't show his excitement, but he did tell his dad quickly afterwards.

I couldn't help but glance up at him occasionally because it's rare that I recognize any of the famous people in Italy as I don't watch that much TV. It has taken me years to recognize some of them and get their names straight when my suocera (mother-in-law) mentions them.

As we looked at our menus, I whispered to my suocero that not only did the Fiorentina win yesterday, but the allenatore made it to his birthday dinner.

When Prandelli was getting up from his table, we were eating our secondi (main dishes). I tried to think of what I could say to him as he walked past our table to leave without being too obnoxious. I didn't want to take a picture or an autograph, but I was so happy that the Fiorentina made it into the quarterfinals of the UEFA cup that I blurted out to him, "Complimenti! (Congratulations!)" He looked at our table and said, "Grazie!" I wasn't the only one who said anything. Alessandro also said, "Grazie!" while the people at another table yelled something out to him as well.

We had a wonderful dinner together with my suoceri, but it was quite exciting to see Prandelli. I was so happy about the win yesterday that I was wearing viola (violet), which is the Fiorentina's color, so maybe that's why he looked up at me when I sat down at our table.

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