Papŕ Gianni and Cafč Trieste
Saturday 17 May 2003 was promising to be a really interesting day. The week before, on Istria on the Internet, I read all about Café Trieste [in North Beech, California] and Papa Giovanni (Gianni) Giotta from Rovigno, the proprietor. I wanted to meet him and hear them sing, so I called to find out when the show starts. The answer was that the show is from 2:00 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday.
I told my wife Cheryl all about it and she was also excited about going. We had the morning to ourselves so we started our weekend morning routine. I normally take Anja, my golden retriever, for a brisk walk to downtown Petaluma for my "caffé mocha grande" and then we come back home, which makes for a five-mile roundtrip. She is a great dog that walks in lock step with me without the leash. One morning a guy in the crowd of people looking for work on the street corner said ”perro mui intelijente”.
During that time Cheryl goes for a six-mile run to a local park/bird sanctuary. She came home and decided to make "chicken cacciatore" with the rest of the chicken that was left over from last night’s "veal parmigiana" (except I used chicken beast instead of veal). While the chicken was simmering, I decided to re-cut the grass in front of the house, so I jumped on my riding lawnmower and spent about one hour cutting the grass that I trampled with the mower the weekend before, because the grass was too tall. After that it was time to clean up and get ready to go to San Francisco's North Beech and listen to some real singing.
It was a beautiful day and while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge we could see the beautiful San Francisco skyline instead of the usual fog. The eastern side of the bridge overlooking San Francisco and Alcatraz was full of tourists and runners, and the western or ocean side was full of bikers. We took the scenic drive along Marina where there were more runners and a lot of kite fliers. The runners were practicing for the next day’s spectacular Bay-to-Breakers run, I guess.
Finally we got to North Beech, parked the car and went to have lunch in a nearby Italian restaurant. We decided to have coffee and desert at Café Trieste. Café Trieste is located on Vallejo St. next to Columbus Ave. in the heart of North Beech.
The place was full of people in anticipation of the show. We were able to find a table for two near the entrance next to a German couple. As you enter, you immediately notice a large mural on the far wall of the café depicting Rovigno (Rovinj) in the background and two barcas with fishermen in the foreground. There are two bare-chested fishermen, one in the barca and the other mending fishing nets. On the right of the fishermen, there are three women dressed in black and a little naked boy. One of the women had a basket full of fish on her head. I was trying to interpret the mural and assumed that the father was the guy in the barca, the mothers was holding the little naked boy by the hand and nonna was carrying the fish in the basket. I tried later to force papa Gianni to admit that he was the little naked boy in the picture, but he did not admit it.
As we came in, Fabio, the son, was being interviewed by two young people with camera and professional looking microphones. The musicians were setting up the instruments, but I did not seen anyone whom I would have thought would be papa Gianni. There was a long line of people along the counter ordering various coffees and deserts. I finally realized that I should get up and order some coffee. I ordered a Café Latte and Café Mocha with two cannoli. Finally papa Gianni showed up and I went over to introduce myself explaining that I am from San Martino d’Albona and that I read about him on Istria on the Internet and wanted to meet him. We talked a bit in Istro-Venetian (Istroveneto) and then it was time for him to sing and meet his usual guests. He is very light on his feet and looks a dozen years younger than his chronological age. He sang a couple of Italian and a Spanish song and then Ida, his wife, took over. The couple that interviewed Fabio were leaving so I stopped them and told them about the Istrianet.org website where they could find more information on papa Gianni and Istria the place where he comes from (what and where was Istria, they asked). They were students at San Francisco State University and were doing research on history and ethnic makeup of North Beech. Papa Gianni saw us talking and decided to join us. Ida’s voice was exquisite and very voluminous so we had to go outside to talk to these young people. Papa Gianni was very proud of Ida’s singing and made sure that we all knew that this is his wife singing.
The show went on with Fabio, papa Gianni, Ida and an opera singer, taking turns. I had more coffee. Papa Gianni, being a gracious host, brought me a glass of Pinot Grigio. He asked me if I was planning to have dinner at Ristorante Albona, four blocks away, but we had a late lunch and with all this coffee and canoli, we will probably not be hungry and will have to come an other day to have dinner at Ristorante Albona and visit Café Trieste again.
Before I left I bought a pound of Italian roast, we exchanged business cards and he expressed interest in coming to Petaluma and maybe opening a coffee shop there. I couldn’t help but notice his title on the card where it said “Chairman of the Board of Directors”, which he obviously is. I still have to visit the Cafe he opened in Sausalito. We drove back the same way we came through Marina over the Golden Gate Bridge through Marin and Sonoma Counties while the sun was setting in the west. Got home to the delight of Anja, who was laying on her lounge chair on the porch. Then we settled down for the evening savoring the beauty of the day we just experienced.
Postscript (December 21, 2003):
Yesterday I was in San Francisco and again visited Café Trieste and Papa Gianni. We had a lovely time. He found me a front row seat with his wife, who was very sad remembering their oldest son that passed away 3 years ago. Besides the family singers, there were five of six local San Francisco singers that had superb voices. One of them was the lady you see in the picture. Note the mural in the background. That is a picture of Rovigno with boats and ladies with fish baskets on their head. A little naked boy was probably papa Gianni as a child. All the singers sang Christmas carols and Christmas related melodies. The coffee house was packed and everyone enjoyed themselves. We left after two hours of sheer pleasure.
Sadá za Vas Labinjâni ki ne kapite ingliski ću van prâvit to storijo po harvôski. A bîn i po talionski ali ne son se navadi pisât po talionski. Pokle vojske ne su nas pustîli govorît talionski ni hodît va crekvo, a sadá su se kondicioni tamo fala bogu popravili, sada se more hodît va crekvu pres strôha.
Alora da van prâvin to storijo ali nećon s pocętká perké ta storija je preduga i Marisa će me ubît kad vîdi kolîko son se zaćakolo. Anké onó s pocętká ni tolîko importante. Tamo son nin pravi da son jutro hodí s breko da si popijen malo kafé, pokle tegá son hodí trôvu kosît spreda kući, i pokle son sô kuhat jenu kokos, za vreme pasât. Eko Van ta storija na harvôsken.
O čemu se tu radi? Istria on the Internet ima jedan članak o G-dinu Giovanniu Giotta is Rovinja koji je proveo svoje mlade godine u Rovinju u jednoj siromašnoj ribarskoj obitelji. Za vrijeme drugog svijetskog rata bio je u talijanskoj vojsci i poslije kapitulacije otišao je u partizane. Poslije rata živio je u Italiji i conačno je otišao u SAD u potrazi boljeg života.
Kao i većina iseljenika, došao je u New York. Kasnije se odlučio da traži sreću u Kaliforniji i konačno je došao u San Franciso. Pedeset-i -sedme godine otvorio je jedan kafić pod imenom Café Trieste. Café Trieste je postalo jedno famozno mjesto gdje mnogi poznati pisci if filmski direktori svrate kad su u San Franciscu. Papa Gianni, tako ga zovu ovdje, i cijela njegova familija su izvanredni pjevači operetnih aria is popularnih talianskih pjesama. Svake subote od 14:00 do 18:00 sati imaju jedan koncert, gdje lokalni gosti i turisti dolaze da ih slušaju i da piju njihovu izvanrednu kavu.
Kavana se nije promjenila u svih tih godina. Na zidu suprotnom ulazu vidi se velika panorama Rovinja sa ribarskim mrežama, barkama, ribarima, i ribarskim ženama s jednim malim dijetetom. Ta slika predstavlja Papa Gianni-ovu familiju i njihov teški ribarski život u Rovinju izmedu dva svijetska rata.
Kad smo mi došli u kafić, muzičari su se pripremali za concert, međutim Papa Gianni se jos nije pojavio. Njegov sin Fabio je u međuvermenu bio interviuiran za neki video koga su studenti localnog univesiteta pravili kao studenski zadatak. Mijesto je bilo puno ljudi koji su došli da slušaju pjevanje i da popiju kakvu šoljicu kave. Konačno, Papa Gianni se pojavio i ja sam otišao da se predstavim. Rekao sam mu da sam is Svetoga Matina (Martinski) pokraj Labina i da sam čitao o njemu na Istria on the Internetu istrianet.org. Pričali smo za kratko vrijeme na Istralianskom jeziku (Istria-Veneto). Rekao mi je da ga je Marisa jednom posijetila i pitao me je dali je poznam. Rekao sam da ne, ali da mi smo svi jako zahvalni za tu Istrsku stranicu (site) koju je ona za nas napravila.
Muzikanti su bili spremni da počinju concert pa se on priključio njima i počeo pijevati. Pjevao je par talianskih pjesama i jednu spanjolsku pa je zatim predao mikrofon njegovoj ženi Idi. On izgleda mnogo mladji nego sto su njegove stvarne godine a i glas mu zvuči mlad. Pjevao je jako lijepo i sa lakoćom mnogo mladjeg čovijeka. Ida i Fabio su također izvanredno lijepo pjevali. Jedna operna pjevačica je isto tako sudjelovala. Dok su drugi pijevali, Papa Gianni donio me je jednu komplementarnu času dobrog bijelog vina.
Tako za tri sata smo slušali izvanrednu muziku koju mi Istrani dobro poznamo, pili smo odličnu kavu i vino, pa i jeli canole. Konačno je došlo vrijeme da se vratimo kući. Prije toga kupio sam pola kile kave u zrnu već pečenu za italiansku kavu. Papa Gianni i ja izmijenili smo business kartice tako da be ostali u kontaktu jer on misli doći u Petalumu gdje ja živim, pa će tamo mozda otvoriti jedan novi cafić. Sve u svemu, bio je to jedan nezaboravni dan u San Francisku. Dosli smo kući bas kad je sunce zalazilo na zapadu a mi smo se udobno sijeli na fotelju i sa zadovoljstvom raspravljali današnje dogadaje.
This page compliments of Pino Golja