happy babies in Italy at restaurants

Earlier this week, my song-writing partner, who was visiting us in Austin, treated Tracie P, Georgia P, and me to dinner at one of the River City’s most swank and high-profile restaurants.

The food was great as always (if you know the Austin dining scene, you are familiar with the restaurant); the waitstaff sharp, precise, professional, polite, and highly informed; and the wines by-the-glass and sake by-the-glass selection excellent.

There was just one thing missing: the boundless warmth and affection that Georgia P had become accustomed to during our trip to Italy.

No, there were no rolled eyes or mumbled editorials. The staff at said restaurant was professional and thoroughly courteous.

But we couldn’t help but notice that Georgia P was disappointed when she wasn’t greeted with the shower of attention that she received at every restaurant where we dined in Italy.

I took the photo above at the restaurant Lab 52 (no website) on the famous Rotonda a Mare in Senigallia (Ancona), where we shared a meal with our new friends Alessandro (left) and Silvia from the Pievalta winery in nearby Jesi.

One of the highlights of the meal, btw, was crescia, the classic savory flatbread of the Marches (Le Marche) topped with Prosciutto di Carpegna.

Traveling in Italy as a parent was a new and thrilling experience — in many ways.

But the best part was watching Georgia P light up as restaurateurs and patrons made a fuss over her and competed for the reward of her sweet laughter and smiles.

Just look at her face in the photo at the top of this post! You can see how much she enjoyed sitting at the table with us (and, of course, we enjoyed it more, too, because we were never worried that we were disturbing our hosts or fellow patrons, save for a few grouchy Germans)…

In the post-Berlusconi age, Italy and Italians face a number of challenges — some of them touching the very heart of their identity.

But there are some things that, happily, remain unchanged there. Like the pure, unmitigated joy of watching a baby slurp up long noodles tossed with clams and tomato sauce.

For all the obstacles that lie ahead — in Europe and here at home — I, for one, thank goodness for happy babies in Italy at restaurants…

Buon weekend, yall!