Italy Day 2: 9/30ish to October 2

It is remarkable how cold it gets here in the evening. It seems that the warmth in Italy, at least in the fall, is entirely dependent on the presence of the sun. When you get out of the sun, it gets cold – in the sun, it’s actually pretty hot. Either way, it’s lovely here, and the food has been, as I suspected, amazing.

Today, we went to a small family-style restaurant in the middle of town for il Pranzo – the kind of place that I was hoping to find in Italy, where they have two options for antipasti, primi e secondi, and you have to choose which one you want. We chose the first option for each – buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto for our antipasti, and lasagne al forno for primo. We were so full by the time we finished the antipasti and lasagne that we had no room left for our secondi – which, thankfully, they didn’t try to force on us. Then we found another place with strong, damn cheap coffee and a cute proprietor who was tickled at my valiant but comical attempts to speak Italian.

Speaking of speaking Italian, it’s starting to come back to me. I took it for two years in high school, and mastered little but the pronunciation of letter combinations, and a few basic phrases. I definitely haven’t reached the point of stringing together full sentences yet, but I’m managing much better than Nick in the realm of actually communicating with non-English speaking Italians, especially when it comes to food-related conversations. Which, I realize, is Incredibly Surprising when it comes to me. I’ll give you a moment to get over that.

Other things to love about this place: the proprietor is completely adorable, and has a hysterical way of talking about things. I swear it’s one of the best things about this place – he greets you with this funny poem, and cracks jokes while he does intake. Today, while discussing farm-related activities with a new guest, he showed her pictures of the family donkey and told her that you can actually do therapy with the donkey – which he followed up with pictures of happy people hugging the donkey. “See the happy face? That’s because he’s a-hugging the donkeh.” My new hero.

The town square is quaint in that way that all Italian villages are quaint. Imagine every movie you’ve ever seen that was set in a small European village, and that’s pretty much Sora. The main thing that I noticed about it is that parking spots are just a suggestion. People park all over the place, and they drive just as erratically. As a pedestrian, it makes for an interesting time, since you find yourself dodging Fiats and taking charge of the intersection – something that Nick’s never very comfortable with, but I grew up doing. They have “crosswalks” here as well, but again, just a suggestion – people generally walk in the middle of the street here, due to having very few or very narrow sidewalks.

Dogs wander all over the place, as well. Generally, they belong to and are taken care of by specific families, but you don’t get the sense that they’re “part of the family” like you do in the States – more like they’re independent beings that once in a while are nice to have around. The only caveat to that is herding dogs; the goatherder up the road (oh, yes, there’s a goatherder) has a couple of big white Awesome Dogs that help him herd the goats, and tonight we saw them all taking a walk through the neighborhood.¬† Ah, the country.

The only downside to this place is the bugs. Both Nick and I are covered in bug bites and get more every hour or so, despite copious amounts of bug spray. But hey – country living, food cooked by an Italian grandmother, and homemade wine at 2 euros a half-liter? Sign me up for that anytime.

Italy Day 1: 9/28-9/30ish

Rome was okay, although we didn’t see much of it. Went straight to the Sheraton Roma, a hotel that was very clearly geared for American tourists. Not bad, but not at all what I expected Italy to be. I will say that AlItalia is a pretty damn awesome airline; good food, and free wine all the way to Italy.

Sora, now – this is my kind of place. We took a bus down two hours through crazy roads and tiny little town squares into the middle of Sora, got picked up by Antonella and brought to the farm, only to find that everyone here was very similar to us – age, interests, etc. We were treated to fruit from the trees, a tour of the grounds, and a bottle of homemade wine with a bowl of just-picked grapes and figs in our room. Which had trees painted on the walls. And a view of the mountains out the one window.

I am in love with the world.

Sometime this week, I wake up insanely early to go to a 5am cheesemaking workshop. This excites me. The smoked tomatoes, apparently, aren’t a Thing in Sora, but are in Naples – which means that they will not be happening. Also, we got to Italy between truffle seasons, which means no truffles, alas. This is sad, but I shall live. Because I’m in Italy, folks. Oh. Hell. Yes.