Last Monday, just back from Liguria, I walked out onto the sidewalk to run my errands, and I was hit by a missile from a pigeon passing overhead. Fortunately, her aim was bad, and my head was spared, but the right knee of my jeans was thoroughly soiled, and I had to go back inside to change for a fresh start. Did I say, “Oh, shit!” Well, yes, I did. But inside, my honorary Italian said—
Porta fortuna literally means “It brings luck.” And, yes. Being shat upon by a bird brings you luck in this country, as do a host of other unsavory experiences. Which is, I guess, the whole point. It’s karmic balance, no? A bird ruins your beehive, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that destiny will heretofore smile upon you. Ditto, if you step in a pile of dog-doo. People may pass around you at a wide radius, but you have the last laugh: You are lucky! You will have great good fortune! The very soles of their Jimmy Choo’s may be spotless, but who knows what lurks behind the next corner for them. It is foretold…
But my favorite superstition by far is the one that equates spilt wine with good luck—Attention!—IF it is dabbed behind the ears. Whenever we spill anything in the wine family at the table, all present—children included—are dabbed post-haste behind both earlobes with the wasted liquid. You may not be used to having the aroma of Barolo emanate from your most intimate pulse point, but believe me, it’s better than the unlucky alternative. So walk breezily under telephone wires and through dog parks. Pour your wine with jovial—even careless—abandon. The worst that can happen is that you get through your day luckier than you started it.