Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sebastian Scala and Mary Savona: Italians on the Bridge

This little article is a little dated, but I thought that it should be on the blog. It had been placed in our forum.

Sebastian Scala and Mary Savona: Italians on the Bridge

Louise Rafkin - San Francisco Chronicle - March 9, 2008

[Above Left: On the Couch: Sebastian Scala and Mary Savona. Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz]

It was 2002, a warm, spring prom night. Traffic was heavy on the Bay Bridge, with lots of limos, and a fair amount of whooping. Mary Savona, now 37, was living in the East Bay and off to party in the city with a girlfriend. Approaching the tollbooth, she caught sight of an attractive man in a convertible eight lanes over. Then her head swiveled - he had blown her a kiss! She mimed a catch and blew one back. The game was on.

Returning to his beloved North Beach from a Toastmaster's conference in the East Bay, Sebastian Scala, now 42, hadn't planned on being so forward - though he did enjoy flirting. But there was something about the raven-haired Mary, with her bright smile ... Sebastian, he pep-talked himself, you only have one life. With traffic all but stalled, he navigated over to her car, put his in park, and jumped onto her hood. The prom kids hooted in approval. The two had time to exchange cards before Sebastian jumped back and maneuvered, gallantly, to pay Mary's toll. Having met with such high drama, Sebastian worried that he couldn't top his initial move, but three days later he called. Two nights after that, the two visited all his favorite North Beach haunts. In the wee hours, Sebastian knocked on the back door of a bakery for a hot loaf of bread, which was shared on a Washington Square Park bench. "I loved that Sebastian knew everybody, and treated all with such respect," says Mary, who, like Sebastian, had grown up in an Italian family where such things mattered.

But it wasn't committed love at first date; Sebastian wasn't ready to pull himself out of the dating loop. So while the two became "friends," more time spent together led them both to secretly question the depth of their affection. Several months in, at one of their frequent, but chaste, overnights, Mary made her own dramatic move. "I was ready to move on if he wasn't feeling the same as I was." Sebastian didn't want her to move anywhere - except closer. "I was having dreams of our wedding," he admits.

That wedding came nine months later, and the honeymoon led to their son, Giuseppe, now 21 months. Now living in North Beach and managing a nightclub, Sebastian is still sometimes flirtatious - it's his Italian nature. But his eyes grow misty when talking about his wife. "She's the greatest human in the world," he says. "I'm so lucky I was on that bridge."

From fated meeting to best friends:


I never trusted chemistry, it can always die out. This is different.


Before Mary, I was just a guy (with tears in his eyes). Now life is sweet.

Louise Rafkin has contributed to the New York Times and NPR's "All Things Considered." Couple suggestion? Send brief story to

This article appeared on page P - 28 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Article Link:
'Sebastian Scala and Mary Savona: Italians on the Bridge'

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