Posted by: 4initalia | June 16, 2009

Fabio on the Balcony

To you, a clothesline. To me, a heart attack in the making.

We are halfway through our year in Italy, six months closer to driving a minivan to Costco, drinking water from the tap, and using a clothes dryer. Dear God not a dryer, that will mean the end of Fabio on the Balcony.

Fabio is the painfully stunning, bronzed Adonis who lives in a nearby apartment building. When I use the clothesline on the roof of our  building, I overlook the enclosed terrace that is Fabio’s lair. I can also see Fabio’s balcony from our bathroom window. It’s hot in Italy, very, very hot. So I need to keep the bathroom window propped open.

For, you know, ventilation.

When I’m not busy maintaining air flow in the bathroom, I’m drying our clothes on our roof-top clothesline. To get to the roof, I climb a medieval iron ladder and fling open the creaking metal door. The sunlight is dazzling as I walk across the searing pebble-tiled floor and gaze upon the oasis that is Fabio’s terrace.

Don’t make me come over there….

I lusted after Fabio’s terrace long before I knew who lived there. Fabio’s balcony is a cool sanctuary soaked in the warm colors of a Tuscan sunset. The walls are chilled cantaloupe, the floor is ochre tile; plants add tropical lushness to the corners. A striped awning and high walls provide partial shade, protecting it from Modena’s glaring sun, and the terrace doors open directly into the apartment. From my perch on the roof with only scorching tiles to sit on, I yearned for the terracotta haven just below.

And then I saw Fabio.

When Fabio is on the balcony, the view is literally breath-taking. The sight of Fabio sucks the air out of my lungs, vacuums the oxygen from my veins, and plucks any remaining O2 from my individual blood cells. An instinctive need to recharge my hemoglobin causes an involuntary gasp, which prevents me from blacking out. But the recoil makes my knees give way, a difficult injury to explain to an orthopedic surgeon. “How did you blow out your patella?” “Hanging out the laundry.” “Oh. Be careful. Don’t you have a dryer?”

What is causing my lungs to collapse? Let us review the splendor that is Fabio: He is impossibly tall, with a broad, tanned chest, a narrow waist, and neatly carved, flat abs. His hair is as dark as polished cherry, with a slight curl that softens the granite edge of his jaw. But I have no clear idea of his facial features, because I have only so much time before I start to get faint, and I need to look at his chest before I pass out.

There have always been people of exquisite beauty: Redford in his Butch Cassidy prime, Baryshnikov in tights, Audrey Hepburn in classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s couture. Michelangelo’s statue of David is a living man whose human body is infused with purest marble. But Fabio is not stone, he’s not wearing makeup, he’s not airbrushed. He is alive, in 3-D, on a balcony I can see from my apartment.

And he mops.

I am happily married. I am too old for this. But there he is, a living embodiment of the perfection of Italian design, every time I do the laundry. Every time I hang out the towels, my blood pressure rises, and my heart is deprived of essential fluids. Life is funny. Painfully, searingly funny, especially when the cardio infarction starts, and it feels like there’s a ton of concrete on my chest. That usually happens when he leans over the balcony, but it can flare up when he just strides across the tile.

I am not sure whether insurance covers this.

Fabio has a chaise lounge the nautical blue of beach resorts. His chaise is tucked into the coolest corner of the terrace, and I can see him arranging his muscles for repose, before he mercifully slips from view behind the wall. He sunbathes a lot, to keep his melanin in top form, so sometimes I don’t know he’s there until he sits up suddenly, which causes all of my heart valves to slam shut.

I am developing a cardiac condition from hanging out socks.

Last week Fabio upped the ante: he cleaned the balcony au natural. He scrubbed the floor in his blindingly white briefs. I must say he has bleaching down to a science. As he swept and polished every corner of the cool clay tile I wondered, as people do, whether he was wielding a Rasta-wild string mop, or a sponge one that slooowly squeeezes the water out.

Then he watered the plants. He had to bend down really low to water the ivy. He gave that hydrangea a long, slow drink. And the exertion brought a gloss to his pecs like the sparkle of a precisely-cut gem.

I have a fear of heights, and am not mechanically inclined, but I wondered whether wire hangers and paper clips could be assembled into a zip line long enough to reach his balcony railing. Of course that would be impossible: in this apartment, most of our hangers are plastic.

As if the tanning and the mopping were not enough, the next day, Fabio installed a patio umbrella, to shade his table during lunch. The totally cute kind with a liquor logo and fringe, like they have at swim-up bars. How much more of this can I stand? If he sits down at the table in his cleaning attire, and pours himself a Limoncello, I’ll have no choice but to hurtle myself off the roof and try to claw my way onto his balcony.  If I miss, and drop all eight floors to the concrete below, the pouring of citrus liqueur would constitute homicide.

If he adds ice, I’d recommend tacking on a charge of premeditation.

I mentioned Fabio on the Balcony to my Facebook friends, who demanded photos, which would make me a stalker. Although I am unemployed, this is not in my job description. But because my friends cleverly argued that Signore F was a figment of my imagination, I agreed to take a picture of him.

This weekend, Fabio was joined on the balcony by Sofia. Sofia is clearly not Fabio’s sister; I suspect their home moves are so hot you couldn’t watch them without a welder’s mask.  I didn’t want a photo of Fabio with Sofia, and a woman who has a boyfriend like Fabio is going to notice whether a neighboring apartment has a camera, tripods, and a camcorder aimed in their direction. So I had to wait until Fabio was alone. And then the creepiness of taking a picture slowly dawned on me: looking at Fabio is wrong.

I have to stop.

In college, my favorite story was Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. I was fascinated and repulsed by the tale of an old creep who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young man. The geezer tries to look younger, and more attractive, by dying his hair black and wearing make-up. As the rancid Romeo decays, his pursuit of the boy becomes a greedy but insatiable desire. How hideous. And here I am, writing to Facebook friends about Fabio.

To my credit, my only attempt to enhance my allure was to keep my Costco underwear off the clothesline. I’ve had a literary epiphany: there’s no fool like an old fool.So no more Fabio Watch; it’s over.

Well, maybe not.

Today, while I was letting cool air into the bathroom, I glanced outside, and there was Fabio, preparing to sunbathe. The sun’s rays melted over his copper skin, and when he slipped his thumbs beneath the waistband of his Speedo, I learned that he was preparing to unleash the melanin on every inch of Fabio. Every inch of Fabio would be available to anyone willing to rent a helicopter, and to pay many thousands of euros, a pittance, really, to hover there, above his balcony.

Thomas Mann don’t know nothin’ bout no Facebook.

Friend me, and I’ll have film at 11.


  1. Boy you should write romances for Mills and Boons and the like. You have a good grasp of (male) human anatomy and what it could do to unwary females. And M&B readers do love horse talk.

    Wonder what Fabio does for a living. If he has a green thumb, I could just do with one. Over where I am, I have pasture and no neighbours he wouldn’t need to feel uncomfortable about grazing in his underwear.

  2. this is a different side of the mother of my niece and nephew than I have seen before. should I mention Roman Holiday or Summertime (?)–the one with Katherine Hepburn and Rozana Brazzi (?), tho neither of those are older woman/younger god. I guess that’s what vacation and summertime in Italy is about, at least for part of the time and for fun. And what’s that classic of Jimmy Stewart spying on the apartment building across the street with a telescope–Rear Window? Fantasy life is exciting (and sometimes dangerous
    —ask Jimmy).

    • There is a Fabio on every corner – forunately not on every balcony, or the businesses here would be closed even more than they are now. The women here are also stunning, and I love to look at them. That’s part of what makes this place different, and so fabulous. I appreciate their beauty, just as I love looking at the clothes – such fabric, such style – and the shoes – oh, my, the shoes. And the food – every cappucino is a short but memorable visit to heaven. The glorious pasta, and gelato – aaah. And then there’s the art, and the architecure. We visited the bapistry in Pisa. A man ascended the steps of to the altar, signalled for silence, and sang a few perfect notes. The acoustics in the bapistry were so perfect that the individual notes held together like a chord that hung in the air long after he stopped singing. That made me cry. I have a strong reaction to all of it – and I’m not taking any of it home. Except maybe the shoes. I am just hanging out the laundry, and this fabulous creature appears – it’s so Italy, and it’s so funny. I am happily married, I am old, and I know Death in Venice when I see it. Nobody’s going blonde here. But I love when I get to see a real DaVinci, and I love it when I get to see a real Fabio.

  3. Hey, wonderful blog you have here! Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you like it!

  4. I’ll visit this site again to read your next post! Excellent job done!

    • Go check out the old stuff – I wrote a lot about living in Italy, and there’s lots of funny stuff on there, like “Fabio On The Balcony,” and “Tea and Sympathy.” I hope you like it!

  5. Of course, what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this site? Regards,

    • Thank you – I appreciate your support!

  6. Hi, i just thought i’d post and let you know your blogs layout is really messed up on the K-Melonbrowser. Anyhow keep up the good work.

    • That’s too bad. Thanks for telling me. Is there any way I can fix it?

  7. Hi, I can’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please

    • Hello, I wish I could tell you how to do that – I’m hopelessly non- technical. (I don’t even know what an rss reader is.) But the WordPress web site has instructions for that. Let me know if it works!

  8. t’s such a important site. cool, very intriguing!!!


    [url=]Opony Mozgowe[/url]


    • Wow – I’m glad you like it! Go check out some of the funny stuff – I hope you like that, too.

  9. Hello there,

    Thanks for sharing this link – but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at have a mirror or another source?


    • Hi Jack –

      What link seems to be down? To Fabio On the Balcony? Thanks for letting me know, and I hope I can fix this.


  10. And how does this jibe with your views re *male* objectification of women (i.e., Princess Leia in a bikini)??????

    • I think all bets were off once he eliminated the bikini phase – sigh.

  11. I think I’d suddenly have more soiled laundry than normal. Much more. All requiring air drying. Perhaps a few times a day.

    • Well, there was always the bathroom. You know, for air.

  12. What a awesome site this is. Look forward to looking this again again.

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