Stopping a sfizioso at Fermata Prossima, a gelateria in Milan. Hot afternoon, and a small queue to get into the tiny shop. Outside, two benches provide the only seating, half in the bike lane, to the silent annoyance of passing cyclists. Everyone seems to know each other here, chatting as they wait. A small boy outside is lifted by his grandmother, snuggles into his nonna’s neck.
Magda’s apartment is in a block that surrounds a central courtyard. Balconies connect front doors to the staircases and the single, infrequently used lift. (There are only four floors; the age of the building suggests the lift was a later addition.) Neighbours drop in, mind children, tap at the kitchen window to say hello. (Yet the deep, high-ceilinged rooms seem to afford enough privacy.) We dine al fresco with Maurizio, Magda, Mara and neighbours and colleagues on Wednesday at the restaurant outside Magda’s apartment block. Some friends pass by, recognise Magda, stop to chat and help us with our desserts.