Tattoo Tuesday: physical graffiti inspired by Lisbon

Across Gina Capoccia’s ribcage reads the acronym “bica” in her own handwriting. It’s a photocopied tattoo that she got for her 22nd birthday at a Tattoo Shop called Peppershade Tattoo in Charleston (a local spot she recommends).

When she studied abroad in Florence, Italy, during the spring of her junior year Capoccia ended up meeting who would become one of her best friends. A period in her life, which, she reveals has something to do with the story behind her tattoo.

“I got the tattoo last year,” she said. “I met Cabrea who I instantly became friends with and she ended up being my roommate there. We ended up going to Portugal spontaneously at the end of our trip. Lisbon, Portugal was amazing because it was mostly untouched by western civilization and so authentic.”

The two got jobs together as bed makers at a hostel in Lisbon.

Bica, as it turns out, is a super hilly neighborhood in Lisbon. Bica is also an espresso shot. Its letters are an abbreviation for “beber isto com açucar” and translates to “drink this with sugar.” The phrase comes from the caffeinated drink’s bitter taste. The expression means to “take the sweet with the bitter, the good with the bad”– so to say, a yin and yang philosophy.

Drinking bica, Capoccia said, started in the older generations. “Old friends and artists and authors would have deep intellectual conversations over a shot of bica. It symbolized our relationship because as soon as we met we talked for hours on a bus from Rome to Florence and became best friends. We both got it on our left side.”

Is getting a tattoo addictive?

“I want more,” Capoccia said.

If you had to get another tattoo what would you get?

“I would want a design instead of words maybe..I would need to get inspired again.”

Capoccia and her friend were forced to cut their trip short when their visas expired. “It was also a reminder for us to go back there,” she said.

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