20 August 2007

Pranzo at Vena Piccola

Many expat novels about Italy have the requisite story where the American meets the old man or woman on the street who then invites them into their humble home for an intimate meal. A friend of ours commented once that she has read several of these and she is tired of seeing the same story over and over again. We have not had that specific experience but several similar ones involving Italian hospitality, the most recent was this past weekend.

Our friend Giorgio Tomasetti from Un anno a stelle e strisce sent us an email a couple weeks ago that his family would like to invite us to lunch at his grandparents’ home in the hills outside of Ascoli Piceno. I called Giorgio this past week and we arranged to go on Saturday for pranzo to meet his parents, sister and grandparents at the small borgo of Vena Piccola. Their home is surrounded by cultivated land with various fruit trees, olives, vines and of course a garden. They also are raising a pig, chickens and rabbits for their table. Vena Piccola sits on a ridge with grand views of the Sibillini Mountains and Mount Ascensione.

Giorgio’s parents, Cinzia and Gianfranco, his sister Valeria, and their grandparents were just as friendly and welcoming as we could have hoped for. Our meal was full of the fruits of their garden as well as their own wine and a little vino cotto. We spent time talking about their trips to America and our experiences here in Ascoli Piceno. When we left, Giorgio’s grandfather gave us a bottle of his own stock of vino cotto to take with us which is a strong cooked wine used as a digestivo.

We have had several experiences where families have taken us into their homes as friends and the food and company has always been a wonderful experience. This is true Italian hospitality.

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