I generally stay in homes but this time, due to circumstances, I stayed at the wonderful little three-star Button Hotel in the heart of the city. This hotel is so personal, it seems more like a bed and breakfast though it has forty rooms. In Europe, hotels are not always “user-friendly” and a client can be made to feel that they are a little unwelcome but The Button isn’t like that (at least in my experience). I have been here for ten days and the great location (in spite of the street sounds on Friday and Saturday nights) allows me to get coffee in a hundred small shops, catch buses to wherever I like and when I am looking for perhaps the best pasta, fish and pizza in the world, just step out the door and there I have it.
In the ten days I have been here, I have gotten to know the front desk personnel Tommaso and Massimo (who is addicted to fishing – I was even invited to his birthday party with all of the staff) the cleaning lady from Moldova and finally, the lady who puts together the colazione (breakfast) who always brings me fresh squeezed orange juice and my own bottle of water. I feel like a celebrity. They know me both as an artist and as a “Priest.” The most important thing for me, however, is their inclusion and the offer, “If and when you return to Parma, “Io daro il prezzo speciale”or
“I will give you the special price.” Perhaps this is all because I gave the Moldovan housekeeper twenty euro with my finger over my lips with a “SSSSHHHHHH.” This kind of generosity in Italy would be hard to contain since a client almost never speaks to service staff. But whatever the reason, this morning while I was having my cappuccino and a brioche, the lady who serves me said the following,
“Ho detto che il Signor Antonio, Tommaso ha un’anima italiana, si preoccupa per il popolo.”
Translation: “I said that Senior Anthony, Tommaso, he has an Italian soul, he is concerned for the people.” I am deeply honored by this high compliment. If ever you go to Parma, try to first book with The Button. It is often filled but if you begin early enough, you can get yourself a very nice, well cared for room and lovely people to go along with it. As long as you are nice, you can say I sent you.