In Italy it is common for families to keep property in the family for many generations. There is not as much of the “sell-up” mentality that is prevalent in the United States. Many of the Italians we know live in cities but also have some land in the countryside where their family has ancestral roots. Our landlords, Dorina and Guerrino, also have some property nearby in Abruzzo and recently invited us along to spend the day with them.
Guerrino’s twin brother, Angelo, picked us all up in his car and we first headed off to the home in the country Angelo and his wife maintain; we needed to pick-up some homemade salsicce and vino from their storehouse, then headed off to the family homestead. It was located in a small hamlet which looked like about half of the homes were not being used- including Guerrino and Angelo’s; once inside, though, the house provided all the basic necessities needed by people many generations ago. Guerrino fired up the fireplace and we grilled some bruschetta with songa, a pork fat and peppers product, and had some salami and a little wine before heading out to their plot of land.
Our chore that day was mainly to watch Guerrino do all the work. We helped some but he is the type of person who can’t sit still and must always being doing something. After pulling some weeds, cutting some firewood and relaxing, Angelo took us to a nearby ghost town. He told us it was abandoned in the 1950’s, and shows signs of deterioration from neglect and people removing architectural items for their new houses. Angelo recalled how they used to visit this town as young kids and that nearly a thousand people had lived there. He reminisced about some of the people he’d known.
After our return Guerrino stoked up the fire so we could grill some meat. Our experience with this type of outing is that your meal consists of meat, bread and wine – that’s it. No fruit or vegetables, this is a meat fest. This meal was no different as we feasted on bruschetta slathered with sogna, grilled pork cutlets and salsicce, with bread and homemade vino.
After cleaning up Guerrino headed back to his chores and Angelo took us off to a monastery on a nearby hill - with some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Angelo again told us about how he remembered this area from his childhood and several times talked about all of the horses that were used, none of which are in use now.
We enjoyed the day in the sun, a little work, seeing some unique places only the locals know about and of course the culinary experience. In Italy it always comes back to the food!