Italy May ’08

A few pictures from my trip to Italy a few weeks ago. It was my cousin’s wedding, so we all congregated down there for the weekend, and I stayed a little longer to do some cycling. To the left is the town where my grandmother lives, taken from a terrace up on one side of her house. Apparently the old Roman road led up through the village on this side of the valley; near the church there’s a small, semi-excavated set of rather unimpressive ruins of some old Roman edifice. There was a good deal of excitement (I’m told) when they discovered it, and energy was put into unearthing the remains. Either because they turned out not to be that spectacular, or because attention wandered, they’ve been in a state of renewed ruination ever since. But the town is quite nice. To the right is the view from my grandmother’s house over Rovereto, the large town/small city in the valley. It’s not a particularly beautiful town, as Italian cities go; there’s a historic town center, pretty but rather small, surrounded by a much larger and less attractive newer area. One of it’s few claims to fame (that I know of) is that the child Mozart stayed here for a few days on one of his Italian voyages. There’s a little plaque on a non-descript looking house in the old part of town commemorating his stay.

My brother came down with his family, which was nice—they’re moving away from Berlin to the US soon, so it was a nice chance to all get back together again. Here he is with il mostro Lidia, taking out the old Fiat 500 for a brief spin. Here she is again, dancing in the living room. There was a little plastic snow-man toy that would sing Christmas songs when a button on his back was pushed, and she would dance and keep pressing the button until we all had Jingle Bells running through our heads. She’s also starting saying a few words—“juice” refers to her drinking cup; “chu-chu” refers to her ciuccio, or pacifier; she also says “Nein!” a good deal, which is odd since, although they live in Berlin, her exposure to German is rather limited. The next picture is one of the glories of my grandmother’s kitchen: polenta e cunel with contorni—polenta and rabbit with various other side dishes: peperonata, cheese, ham, salad etc. There were several things that my nonna always used to make when we visited as a family when I was younger: polenta with rabbit; gnocchi verdi (gnocchi made with spinach and bread instead of potatoes); pasta al forno (in case you didn’t know, “lasagna” actually simply refers to the sheets of pasta used to make pasta al forno, like “tagliatelle” or “fusilli”); aside from the usual variety of pastas and soups. When my brother went to college and got his first car, he had custom plates made with “POLENTA” on them. I wonder what the Iowans made of that (he went to college in Iowa). The table wine, by the way, is nonna’s standard Spagnolli merlot; the Spagnolli vinyards surround the village, and the bottling plant is just off the main square. Enrico Spagnolli, the man who now runs it, is a vigorous elderly chap with an enormous red nose and an inexhaustible enthusiasm for wines: it’s impossible to drop by there without being offered several glasses of his wines with a rather forceful affability, at any time of day. His speech is intensely Trentino, and I have trouble following him most of the time. But the wine is good, and I keep thinking that some enterprising wine merchant could run a brisk trade importing it to England or the States; even hiking up the cost five-fold it would still be quite inexpensive, and it’s certainly a lot better than much of the stuff sold in off-licenses in the UK.

It was, as I mentioned, by cousin’s wedding, so perhaps I should include a picture or two of that. The ceremony took place in a little chapel connected with what looked like an old aristocratic house up on hill overlooking Rovereto in the valley. Apparently, the groom’s parents had been married in the same chapel about thirty years ago. Lovely place. My cousin had asked me to take pictures for her, so I spent the ceremony, about an hour and twenty minutes, shuffling about the place and trying to look inconspicuous as the priest did his thing and I took pictures. There were about 80-85 people, a percentage of whom were relatives of one kind or another, some of which I’d never met before, others I hadn’t seen for years. Often when I’m visiting my grandmother and walking through the town I’ll pass a pair of elderly ladies chatting to each other on the doorsteps, or returning from the small supermarket on the main square, and they’ll exclaim “Ah, you must be the grandson of Rita!” (Rita being my nonna), and remark on the similarity between myself and my father. This happened a couple of times as I was being introduced to various relatives at the wedding. To the right is the couple. He’s a friendly guy, a builder, who lives in a small town on the same side of the valley, perhaps twenty minutes away. Here’s another picture of Arianna, my cousin, which I rather like. There’s something engagingly Pre-Raphealite about it. And this is the the two of us at the reception later in the afternoon. So there we are. I stayed in Italy for another week after the wedding, cycling and eating and sleeping, and then finally came back to Vienna. I’ll probably head back there in late July.


One Response

  1. Dovresti aggiornarlo.Ciao

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