THE ITALIAN WAY
Last night, just as we were finshing our 'clean out the refrigerator before we go on vacation' dinner, Belinda called to ask us if we'd like to join them in Poggio Aquilone, a tiny, tiny little spot not far from here. I don't think Poggio Aquilone even has a bar, but if it does, that's about all it has. It's just a collection of buildings, all strung together, perched on the side of a hill.
What Pollgio Aquilone does have is it's own WEBSITE!, and last night they were having a sagra di Umbricelli. Umbricelli is a fat, hand-made pasta. similiar to spaghetti, found all over Umbria. How could we resist? We arranged to meet them in Poggio Aquilone, thinking that we could have a drink, maybe sample a dessert.
We warned Nicholas that sagras didn't have games and booths filled with cakes like a typical Catholic church picnic, but still we hoped he might enjoy seeing how Italians fill their summer evenings. We explained that sagras are really just an excuse to have a meal with friends because Italians are such sociable people.
Giacomo and Belinda brought another couple with them, Giacome Servoli, whose family owns the large grocery store in San Venanzo. This Giacomo works in real estate, and once our friend Giacomo gets his license, they'll be able to help one another. With Giacomo was his girlfriend Laura. We'd met both a them a few times before and were happy to see them again.
Everyone raved about the food, but the crostata we ordered for dessert wasn't all that great. I much prefer a (good, flaky) American-style pie crust to the Italian crostata crust, but what I really didn't like about this one was the filling. I'm not sure what fruit it was, maybe prune, but it just wasn't to my liking. Nicholas took a bite, but he wasn't won over either. I think he was a little disappointed he couldn't get a gelato!
The placemats had several Sudoku puzzles on them, so Nicholas asked for a pencil and went to work. We chatted with our friends as they ate their dinner, enjoying their company and the nice evening. The wind had picked up, and somewhere it had probably rained, but not near us! At least it cooled things off considerably.
As usual for a sagra, the music began around ten, but instead of the crowd taking the dance floor, there was a demonstration for various dances by a couple who were regional dance champions. Personally I'd rather watch the locals, young and old, as they swirl around the dance floor. It seems that everyone in Italy knows how to dance....not just rock and roll gyrations, but old-fashioned, hand to hand dancing. We left about 10:30, with plans to return tonight so that we can sample the umbricelli ourselves.
Whatever was scheduled for the park this morning never happened. Supposedly the school was going to 'adopt' the park. Flyers were posted around town, but if there was a ceremony, it wasn't in the park. Oh well.
Nick walked down to the grocery store to buy a souvenir for his mom. He'd planned to go by himself, but Art decided to go with him. They told me that when they passed the school, the kids yelled out to him "Ciao Americano!"
Later on the two guys went to the new soccer field to see the match between the carabinieri (local police) and the townspeople. After that they planned to go down to Marsciano to buy a charger for Nicholas' Gameboy-thing. For some reason his charger wouldn't work with our voltage converter, and when we'd been in the grocery he'd spotted the charger with an Italian plug.
I warned him to be very cautious about what he bought, since returns and exchanges just don't happen in Italy. He accepted the gamble, and as luck would have it, the charger worked just fine.
The soccer match wasn't quite as successful. The first match had been a women's match, and not many people were there. Nicholas was of course hoping to find some of his friends at the match, but apparently they hadn't yet arrived. Art and Nicholas decided to go to the grocery store, then return to the match later, but discovered that there would be an admission charge of €5 when they came back. Since neither one of them was that interested, they just came home.
Nicholas is out wandering around right now, trying to see if any of his friends are out. We're leaving for the sagra in a little while, and I don't expect to see anyone we know....last night we didn't see one familiar face, apart from the ones at our table. We were a little surprised, but things here are so localized, and maybe people from San Venanzo don't have any friends or relatives in Poggio Aquilone......but who knows?!