1 month down, 17 to go!!Posted: February 7, 2011
It seems appropriate to finish our first month as we are about to leave the Veneto/Friuli area. We have just finished a week of more hellos, goodbyes and lots of “mangiare” in-between. We have been invited guests of honor at half a dozen meals. Yesterday we had lunch with the parents of Marta and David in Australia. Fernando and Stafania were such wonderful hosts. Fernando is a “foody” for sure and had prepared the wood burning BBQ rotisserie of alternating juicy pieces of chicken, pork and bacon at 5.30AM!!!!
The fabric of Italian life really is woven around the tables in peoples homes. Conversation is quick, easy and usually voiced in tones that ebb and flow from a whisper for theatrical cadence, to a crescendo of fist thumping point making and eventually back to a whisper again. The children are there, included as adults and living with loads of affection.
Antonio often defends the national Italian cuisine identity, fiercely objecting to the stereotype that all Italians can cook/eat is pasta. And certainly there is a lot more to the cuisine, BUT it needs to be said that pasta is served at every meal. Every meal. Usually as the starter and if one forgets that its only the entree and eats the whole helping, there can be trouble getting the second course in. Dinner will always end with either cheese, usually a hard parmigiana, or a dolce, pannetone, frittole or crostoli.
There is a lot of alcohol on the table, often an aperitif and certainly a fortified liqueur or even more deadly grappa style wine for the end of the meal – yet I have yet to see so many people drink so little. Bottles of wine seem bottomless as do peoples glasses. It must be only there to be sipped and savored.
A variety of interesting looking bottles may come out of the cupboard at the end of the meal, sit on the table and end up right back in the cupboard again. The look of the bottle is only surpassed in interest by the label discretely stuck & homemade, written in pen eg ” Norinas Coccole Verde (green walnut) Grappa ” or try ” Grappa alla Rutta” with a handsome size piece of “the rutta” happily fermenting in a fortified state. Antonio very much enjoys his “cafe correto” . at almost any time of the day. This literally translates to espresso coffee “corrected” by grappa!!
It’s all part of the pantomime and everyone has the same script, with only slight variations. It’s charming and endearing and I will miss this being included, hosted and welcomed into the lives of Antonio’s extended, extended families.
As well as the food, we have also shared more history. We have visited an abandoned Knife manufacturing factory beside the river in Maniago. The factory was started sometime after 1862, the year Luigi Beltrame was born. His son, Marino, took over the factory and his son, Luigi, who died in 2001, continued the family tradition.
The building has been left in original working order, locked up to keep it safe. The water wheel system still has the rerouted water gushing through it, naturally given power that used to operate the machinery inside.
Antonio then took me to an olden day laundry. The facility has been restored and its fascinating to think of the women of Maniago, coming down with their washing. Kneeling over the edge and starting at the downstream, they would scrub and rub on the stone step. As clothes became cleaner, they would progress, one by one, to the upstream end, ensuring less silt downstream to effect the washing of the next. Who can imagine the conversations held here, marriages arranged, talk of love and broken hearts, dreams and hardships shared. If only this one long washing stone could talk!
Its been an interesting and wonderful month.
Antonio has re- immersed himself in his homeland, his language, his cousins, his history, his FOOD! And has come up shaking his Italian tail feathers with gusto! He often says he feels more Italian than many Italians, and I know why!
Unfortunately the main reason for our extended stay in this area has not gone as smoothly as we hoped. Lodging his papers to renew his citizenship has hit the complex wall of Italian bureaucracy more than once, roundabouts turned into dead ends, people who should have been there, not there, offices that should have been open, closed! His cousin Remigio has taken him by car, tram, bus and ferry from one official to another, and still we don’t seem to have passed step one. This is disappointing BUT, whilst Antonio has almost given up hope, I’m expecting it will all work out, and before we know it, we will break through the bureaucratic tangle and end up on the other side, identity card in hand!
Still, there is alot we have achieved.
We have purchased a campervan in a foreign country, been made residents of that area and opened a bank account. We have traveled through 3 countries. My skiing has progressed to the next level and I’m sure my Italian vocabulary would now include around 100 words!
We have made new friends, and I have grown an extended family.
We have recorded around 14 posts to our website and been visited nearly 500 times. Its so wonderful to know our journey is of interest and is shared.
And its only the beginning………………………………