The rainy season has started here so that means it must be Easter, at least according to the locals. Apparently rain is pretty much guaranteed at Easter in Arezzo the way it is for the 4th of July in Seattle. While annoying, it is also very welcome at the moment in Italy as a whole. There has been very little rain since last summer. In some areas of the country there has been a real drought. At Il Bellini, for example, they were very worried about the survival of their olive trees and the effect on the harvest in the fall.
Being primarily a Catholic country, Easter is a big deal here. The country pretty much shuts down for Sunday and Monday. The church bells ring with increased frequency to signal the daily mass, and families are out and about taking a stroll in the streets and parks (when they’re not in church). Shops are filled with enormous, elaborately wrapped chocolate eggs, which we’ve been told contain a surprise gift inside. Those who live away from home return for a big Easter lunch. We were on a train last week and it was packed with people traveling for the holiday. Many Italians take this week to enjoy a vacation. And in fact we’ve noticed a lot of Italian tourists here these past few days. It’s been fun to be amongst them feeling as though WE are the locals!
We spent Easter Sunday with a small group of students from our school.
|Henry with Yuka, Denise and Masae|
Denise invited us all to her place for lunch. We were expecting a very casual meal but when we arrived, we found that she had prepared mountains of food and laid out a beautiful table. She claims to be full-blooded German, but we suspect there’s Italian somewhere in her genes!
We had a huge feast with all the fixings of a traditional Italian Easter lunch – except for the lamb. Those of us who eat meat (i.e. everyone except Gabriella) had chicken instead.
Around the time we were ready for dessert, Yuka’s ragazzo (boyfriend) Stefano and his friend Marco arrived. They brought dessert and a bottle of passito, which is a dessert wine like vin santo, but a little sweeter. Whereas vin santo is made here in Tuscany, passito is made primarily in the south of Italy. The best stuff, which is what Stefano kindly brought for us, comes from a small island near Sicily called Pantelleria. We enjoyed it very much along with all the desserts, including Marco’s lemon cake. Just to break any misconceptions about cooks in Italy, we’ve found that many Italian men are passionate and talented chefs.
When we decided it was time to leave, we realized that we had been there for over 5 hours eating and talking. Feeling stuffed to the gills we felt like real Italians – until we learned from our friend, Cristina, that to be real Italians we had to then eat something for dinner as well. OK, so we’re still Italians in training.