First Stop – Bar Mixed Fantasy

The title grab your dirty little minds?  Sorry Charlies this is a story about – well not what you think.

Traveling is always a tiresome adventure.  Though I am never sure why sitting in a plane for 7 hours; then racing through terminals for a connecting flight; then sitting on the tarmac longer than the next 45 minute leg of the journey; then waiting because the baggage didn’t show up; then cramming in a small car with luggage piled on top of me should be tiring.  But hey it is. 

So what is the first thing I do to decompress?  Here’s a hint, I learned this from my father.  Those who know me, know that the first place to go to decompress and get rejuvenated is the local watering hole.  Even better is to go to the local watering hole with a local.

Our ace translator, information maven and all around great pal, Annarita Mancini, accompanied us to Bar Mixed Fantasy.  Giuseppe, “Peppe”, Natale and his wife Antonella Lombardi are the owners of this local hot spot.  Open from morning till – well morning, Bar Mixed Fantasy is one of the bars that locals use as a home away from home.  Pontelandolfo has three bars and it seems like folks rotate between them but also have their favorite.  Annarita tells us that young adults meet at Bar Mixed Fantasy before going out to dinner and discos.  They often say they are just meeting for one drink but end up staying for a couple of hours.  Why?  Peppe and Antonella have great personalities and the thirty-somethings feel like they are hanging out with a neighbor – oh, they are.  Another youngun told me, ” Peppe acts like one our friends and treats us like family.”

We ordered our beverages of choice – no caffè for this crew – and sat in the bar’s back room.  (When I was but a wee thing, I remember sitting in the back room of Farley’s Tavern in Flagtown. Now back rooms are as extinct as dinosaurs.)  

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Back Rooms are where deals are made and secrets are shared.

Bar Mixed Fantasy has a large covered outdoor space, a tiny two table bar area and good sized back room. Customers sidle up to the bar and order.  You can stand and slug back your coffee or take it to a table.  Peppe and his crew will also carry your stuff to a table for you.  Remember, there is no tipping here.  We’ve left 50 centesimi on the bar only to have someone race it back to our table. I gotta say that is a hard lesson to learn.  We often start to tip and have a relative slap our hands and toss our money back at us.

H’mmm an Italian beverage in an Italian bar.  Heaven!  Peppe logged his wi-fi magic code into my iPad, we kicked back, checked e-mail and forgot about nasty TSA dudes, lost luggage and well just about everything. Papà was right – head to Farley’s Tavern – I mean the local watering hole.

The back room even helps us village newbies learn more about our heritage.

This local joint is not just the requisite caffè/bar.  Karaoke nights bring in crowds to the comfortable back room – which also serves as a rosticceria/spaghetteria.  Antonella takes reservations for lunches “fatto in casa.”  Spaghetteria e cucina con piatti tipici locali. Think having lunch at your sister’s – if your sister was a great cook.  Alina Natale, Antonella’s daughter, when she is not dancing helps out.  Alina dances with the local folklorico company and studies classical dance. This trip a visit Antonella’s spaghetteria is on my hot to do list. 

Become their friend on Facebook:

Suddenly shouts fill the air.  Shit why are folks screaming?  Oh yeah, a bunch of guys are sitting around outside playing cards.  Playing cards is a very vocal sport.

After kicking around a ball – calcio is in their blood- little kids showed up for gelato. Francesco Natale, the mini Peppe, was one of them.  This cute fellow has a huge smile and incredible larger than life personality.  He can often be found playing calcio with the other village kids or sitting at a table playing scopa.  Bar Mixed Fantasy appeals to patrons of all ages.

Last summer my extended family spent more than a few afternoons on the Bar Mixed Fantasy patio – only chatting of course.

What did I have?  Campari Soda!  Senza ghiaccio – neat.  Ah, I feel my blood flowing already.

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