Veruska and Igor seem happy with their lives in Italy. We don’t really know where exactly in Russia they came from or IF they really are Russian. Why did they leave? Were there suspicious circumstances? It doesn’t really matter. We simply know that they are the sweet couple that we encountered just outside the Balducci Coffee Bar on the piazza in Caldine. Veruska‘s fairly robust, outweighing her husband by a fair amount. He seemed a little high-strung, almost nervous, barely able to sit still. Veruska looked toward him and then at us, probably wondering if we’d noticed Igor‘s quick, frantic motions. After a few minutes, we walked into the bar to talk with Tommaso about what we’d observed.
Tommaso looked up from pouring a foam cap on a cappuccino. By moving the small pitcher in swirling motions at just the right time, he created a beautiful stylized leaf in the foam. “Buon giorno!” he offered. “Come state? How are you?” We cheerfully answered, “Benissimo! Very well!” With pleasantries out of the way, we forged ahead. “Tell us about the interesting couple outside. Do you know them. What’s their story?”
“Well, they are Veruska and Igor,” he said. We commented about her generous size compared to his. He chuckled and said that Igor seemed more like Veruska‘s child than her husband. We agreed. We pressed a little further. “Why are they always here?” Tommaso explained that they live with him and he thought they’d enjoy spending some time on the piazza, with all the people coming and going—talking with them. We nodded in agreement. Probably a very good idea. We thought that perhaps the socialization would eventually calm Igor down to be more comfortable in crowds.
After cappuccini and pastries, we paid our bill and wished Tommaso “Buona giornata! Good day!” Then we walked through the door and over to Veruska and Igor to say good-bye to them. Veruska looked directly at us, while Igor peered off into some distant corner. When he turned his head back toward us, it was clear that our presence startled him. We passed a glance between us, as if to say, “Poor little guy!”
As we climbed into the car, we remarked about how clever Tommaso is. What a great idea to bring Veruska and Igor to the coffee bar with him. That decision says a lot about his creativity and personality. What a nice guy! Tommaso became even more colorful, real and endearing. Who else would bring birds to work every day? Who else would find humor in a hand-crafted sign, with an arrow pointing somewhere to the “love room,” evidently for the Russian lovebirds.