Lonesome European Sideways – Day 3
In the picture above the fruit basket substituted the shepard that was originally in the background
Monday, March 26, 2007
I awake to a dark gray sky and another rainy day after a long restorative night's sleep. After shaving, showering and getting dressed I try to make some phone calls on my Italian cell phone, which I have recharged overnight. For some reason it doesn't work, so I leave and go over to my mom's and use her land line.
I call Vodaphone tech support and find out that in Italy, unless one fills your cell phone with a pre-paid amount call time every 11 months, the cell phone is able only to receive calls for the 12th month, then, unless a ricarica (pre-paid phone calls) is purchased within the month, the user loses the cell phone number.
The reason I keep an Italian cell phone is that a lot of people there only have that specific number. I call my friend Ivano who provides me with an to added €10 of call time and I immediately receive a message telling me that I'll be able to make phone calls in six hours.
Next I go in my mom's garage to start going through a wall of boxes of my stuff, stored there when I left Italy over 14 years ago, as my mom will be moving soon.
In Italy there are no self-storage locations as in the US, so, as usual, Italians count on the extended family and friends network. Now though, since my mom, whose 90th birthday is approaching, is moving across the street, into a newer apartment with easier access, I will need to sort out my belongings and figure out what to keep and what to get rid of.
As I'm opening the garage door my sister, who visit my mom daily, arrives. We catch up as she helps going through bags and boxes of blankets, kitchenware, light fixtures and various brick-a-brac.
My sister leaves shortly before noon to go home and prepare lunch, and not long after, as the recorded church bell rings mezzogiorno (midday), my mom summons me to lunch calling out the window of her second floor apartment.
For lunch, as we are alone, she respects my no-meat requirement, so we have vegetable soup, salad and cheese, followed of course by homemade espresso, which my mom transforms in affogato by adding a generous portion of gelato (ice cream).
I spend the afternoon at Valentina's apartment doing some work and reading, until my friend Daniele comes to pick me up for dinner at his restored medieval country home. Barbara, Daniele's wife, is a wonderful cook and has a beautiful, big kitchen always filled with an incredible amount of food of any kind, much of it produced organically on their property.
The peasant style dinner consists of large tigelle (kind of homemade bread prepared at the moment), with an incredible amount of condiments to go with it: three types of cheese, olive and eggplant spread, homemade prosciutto and salami, seasoned lard, cured green and black olives, and an assortment of fresh washed and sliced vegetables to eat in pinzimonio, that is, dipped in olive oil, vinegar and salt. The olive oil comes from Daniele's olive grove in Bagni di Orvieto, in the Umbria region, and the balsamic vinegar is made in his own acetaia, in the attic of this same house.
We wash everything down with the unlabeled white Trebbiano, made with the grapes cultivated in the vineyard that expands from right outside the yard and whose best grapes are used to make Daniele's own balsamic vinegar.
Dessert consists of perfectly ripe strawberries and whipped cream enriched with mashed hazelnuts. By the time Daniele drives me back to the frescoed apartment I'm ready for bed.