Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How did you spend your 'Immacolata?'

I spent mine with the most adorable Italian family ever! (Sorry this post is senza (without) pictures...I spent the day enjoying myself instead of worrying about taking pictures, and it felt great :)

Today is the Immaculate Conception, and since Italy is a Catholic country, today was a public holiday. Since the university was closed today, my roommate's family here in Rome invited her to go to church with them. Kristin's been saying all semester that I need to meet them, so she asked if I could come today and they said of course.

Her great-aunt and great-uncle (Lia and Roberto) came to pick us up at 10am, and we were off to church. We stopped for a cappuccino and cornetto (croissant) and then got to the church a few minutes early. Let me just say that Kristin's aunt and uncle are beyond adorable -- they have been married for 40 years and are your typical older yet still fiery Italian couple. They get frustrated with each other every once and a while and have little arguments, but you can tell they adore each other still which is molto carino(very cute.) They speak no English, which was great for Kristin and I since it gave us a chance to practice our Italian. They were very good about speaking more slowly and making hand gestures to make sure that we understand what they were talking about.

When we arrived at church, Roberto parked the car while Kristin and I walked next to Lia, who held onto each of our arms and held her umbrella up for all of us to huddle under. Lia is probably about a foot shorter than both Kristin and I, so this would have made the cutest picture :) After Lia chatted with some friends outside of the church, we went inside and mass began. The mass was in Italian, which was beautiful to hear. Afterwards, we headed back to Lia and Roberto's house in Mostacciano (still part of Rome, but about 25 minutes away from the main city center) for lunch. They live in an apartment, but it was very spacious and furnished nicely. Lia told Kristin and I to sit and watch TV while she cooked (no argument from us! :)) so we did just that.

She finished cooking in what seemed like 10 minutes, and we headed to the kitchen for what was an amazing meal. First, we had rigatoni with a simple ragu sauce and a ton of parmigiano reggiano on top...amazing. Lia's sauce was delicious. Next we had some type of meat (I'm not sure what it was, but I'm thinking it may have been pork, since it reminded me a lot of braciola.) This was followed by the best cauliflower I have ever eaten -- normally, I don't eat cauliflower, but since Lia cooked it, I took it anyway and was planning on eating it even if I didn't like it because I didn't want to be rude (one thing I learned quickly after arriving in Italy is that not eating what's given to you is a big no-no.) Anyway, I ended up not having to worry because it was delicious! She cooked it until it was very soft, then served it cold with white vinegar. Vinegar was the only ingredient I could taste on it, but oh man, was it good! I definitely want to try to make this at home. After the cauliflower we had bruschetta -- toasted bread topped with olive oil and peperoni (in Italian, peperoni means peppers while salame piccante is the typical 'pepperoni' that Americans think of.) This was followed by orange and apple slices to top off the meal.

After we finished eating we had a long conversation with Lia and Roberto about their visit to the United States a few years ago and the current healthcare system in the US compared to the one in Italy. This came up because Roberto had to go to the hospital when he was in the US, and he was surprised at how much more difficult things are there regarding healthcare. Him and Lia also asked me about my family, and when I told them I am Italian, they asked from what part of Italy. When I told them that my Dad's family is from Basilicata, they said that it is very beautiful there and were wondering why my Dad and the rest of my family have never come to Italy yet (hint, hint Mom and Dad! You're bringing me back here soon!)

Afterwards, Roberto pulled out the family photo album and showed us pictures from his and Lia's wedding :) So cute! He pointed himself out to us and said something along the lines of, "Sono la stessa adesso, ma qui ho avuto più capelli!" ("I am the same now, but here (he pointed to his wedding picture) I had more hair!")

Later we each had un caffè and a little mini peach tart while we chatted with Lia and Roberto's friend Francesca who came over to visit for a bit with her daughter Victoria. Francesca spent a summer in the United States when she was 14, and she was telling us about her experience. She stayed with a family in Iowa (of all places! haha) and she loved it even though she said there wasn't much to do or see there. She spoke very good English, which was impressive since she said she doesn't really have the opportunity to practice it much since she lives in Italy, and she is 34 now so it's been 20 years since she was in the US.

We all headed over to Roberto and Lia's daughter Alessandra's house around 4:30pm just to visit for a bit...they also have a gorgeous home. It's a townhouse, and it was very modern on the inside. Alessandra and her husband Fabio also have two adorable kids -- Ludovica, 6 and Manuele, 8. We spent some time there chatting with everyone when we could and watching television. We had a long conversation with Alessandra about the differences in the way of life in America vs. Italy because she has been curious about them ever since she visited the US a few years ago. Around 5:30pm, we said our goodbyes and Lia and Roberto dropped us back off at our apartment.

Basically I lived the dream today ;) -- I had an adorable older Italian woman cook a fabulous meal for me, I got to speak in Italian for practically the entire day and I met the sweetest, most welcoming family ever! Everything they say about Italians is so true -- when you're with them, they really do make you feel like a member of their family!


Anonymous said...

They sound like a very cute couple...Mom

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