In September, at a local farmers market, I met a group of people who would play an important part in helping me deal with having no water the last two weeks I was in Italy. We’d exchanged contact info, and had kept in touch since the market.
About a week before I left Italy, I was traveling to find water, especially hot water for a shower, but couldn’t figure out how I was going to get home from the train station in Umbertide. While on the computer, I was contacted via Skype by one of the market folks, and he offered to pick me up at the station after learning of my situation at the apartment.
I arrived at the group’s commune-type farm around dusk. I could barely see the large stone house in the twilight, but was greeted by most of the seven people who lived in that particular house (another three-member family lived in a smaller stone house down the hill).
Zigo - the male goat
Supper was prepared by Alessandro, the young man who offered me the lift. He speaks great English because he lived in England for a year working as a chef. He prepared a great supper of spaghetti with homemade sauce made from vegetables grown on the farm. It was thrilling to sit around the table with real Italians, in their home, and have dinner. The conversation roared around me – I’ve noticed Italians often seem to talk at once. I understood little, but enjoyed the lively discussions and delicious meal.
Built-in Back Scratcher
The next morning I woke up early and watched from my bedroom window as the men-folk fed the chickens, ducks, geese and goats across the farmyard.
I visited the pigs before lunch and was thrilled to see the sow, Michelle, with her newborn piglets – a mass of pink energy as they nosed through the hay and worried their mother for their next meal.
We had lunch at the smaller casa – penne pasta with a homemade sauce that included carrots, peas, pancetta, onions, garlic and (of course) tomatoes. Fresh bread. A green salad with fabulous dressing. There were 13 people around the table (some additional friends had come for a visit after dinner the night before).
Fabbio, pigs, Alessandro and Karin
I believe that these kind and hospitable people primarily live on what they produce from their animals and garden – either for their own consumption or from market sales. I had purchased some of their fresh and aged goat cheese at the market. One lady sews children’s clothing - unique and clever designs of her own creation.
I also stayed at their farm the night before I left the area to travel to Perugia for the Chocolate Festival. Alessandro had offered to help me in any way that I needed, and unfortunately I had to call on him to take me to the train station. (My normal “chauffeur” had to return to Morocco because his mother-in-law was gravely ill.)
(R to L) Lucia, Nunziella, Antonio, Alessandro and me!
I love these people for taking me in during a time of need. They have a special place in my heart and taught me about an aspect of hospitality that is missing in my own life – that of welcoming the stranger in my gates - an attitude to embrace! Their life is simple, but they happily shared what they had. Thank you, Alessandro, Nunziella, Fabbio, Sabrina, Karin, Lucia, Lucca, Elisa, little Pedro and little Mila.