Every city has its own special hideouts, charming cafes tucked away around corners, seemingly ordinary restaurants and bars that transform into charismatic explorations of new and exciting foods and drinks upon opening the door. Discovering these out of sight treasures can often lead to the greatest and most memorable times while experiencing a city. Viterbo has countless enchanting spots of the sort hidden within the medieval walls, along mundane cobblestone alleys that, upon being passed by, wouldn’t compel a second glance. It just so happened that on a Thursday night, four figures meandered down one of these commonly appearing cobblestone streets, the stones glistening with water from the rain that had just ceased.
It couldn’t have been a quarter past eleven and, accompanied by three fellow USAC students, I neared a corner where, just up ahead was a bar, neatly tucked away along the side of the street, just a few minutes shy of Piazza San Pellegrino. As the four of us entered Al Settantasette, the bartender greeted us in a friendly, light-hearted manner—a contrast to the shadowy, poorly lit bar. A sign hung above the bartender in the corner of the room reading “No admittance. Except on party business”, a phrase from a familiar movie I recognized (The Hobbit!). A few more USAC students hovered by the counter near the door, holding drinks that immediately caught my attention with their brilliant colors and splendid fixings. Moments later we were witnessing what I would call a form of art as the bartender flipped bottles around in a superlatively fluid and skilled manner as he fashioned drinks for the rest of us. I remember noticing a song about a volcano playing in the background, softly, but loud enough for me to hear it (and ecstatically recognize it) and start humming along. As enamored as we were by the creation of the drinks—or at least I was—the completed concoctions were at least ten times as enticing and I wouldn’t describe them as anything other than undeniably exquisite.
After receiving our drinks, garnished with luscious and vibrant fruits (one of which exhibited a lime that had been lit on fire!) and all of which I can attest were as delicious as they were beautiful, our ensemble made its way over to a far corner in the bar where several more friends awaited us. The aura of the bar was nothing less than magical and for such a seemingly average bar, tucked away down alley ways and beyond mysterious corners, it was absolutely enchanting with its simple yet charming sense. The night passed quickly as we shared stories about where we’re from, places we want to see in Europe, whether we like our classes, and how much we adore Viterbo. As we chattered even more elaborate and fanciful drinks were ordered, admired, and savored. Our conversations, being primarily in English as we were nearly all USAC students, caused an Italian member to intervene, insisting “You are in Italy, speak Italian!” to which one of the girls sitting next to me responded “Si!”.
It seemed only brief moments before the bartender approached, informing us that the time had reached ten minutes until close. We all fumbled around gathering our belongings, our spirits, formerly enchanted by the exotic drinks and the whimsical atmosphere, just the slightest bit downcast that our delightful night was coming to an end. After we paid the bartender for our fantastic drinks and expressed our pleasure at how utterly brilliant the night had been, we departed, first trying to exit through one door—unsuccessfully—and then proceeding out the other. The cobblestones gleamed with another fresh episode of rain and the moon peered shyly from behind eerie grey clouds, faintly lighting our path home. And it was moments exactly like this, as we ambled down the street laughing and avoiding being hit by the occasional car, that I found myself exceedingly content to have not only ended up in such an entrancing city as Viterbo, but to have ended up with such wonderful people to share experiences like this with.
Lauren Graziano: E’ una studentessa americana USAC che studia all’Università della Tuscia per il primo semestre di questo anno scolastico. E’ cresciuta alle Hawaii, ma ora vive in Colorado e studia in una università nello Iowa, dove ritornerà il prossimo autunno, dopo il suo semestre a Viterbo. Ama viaggiare, leggere, scrivere e uscire fuori, sia che si tratti di escursioni, sci, nuoto o altre divertenti attività all’aperto.