You know the feeling when you put on a pair of shoes that you haven’t worn in awhile, maybe a pair of last year’s sandals, and your toes fit comfortably back into the grooves of the sole? That’s what returning to our Italian life is like. We’ve shed our NYC skin and slipped back into our Italian skin. All of my senses are more alive here, more open. A lot of life in New York City is about filtering: filtering out noises, smells, crowds so that you can have a little space of your own. Here the space exists and you partake as much or as little as you want.
After a very hectic re-entry into Italian life, we are starting to get back into the particular rhythm of our life. The bells start to ring at 8:00 am and if you are still in bed….you’re already late. The real summer heat isn’t here yet but the warmth is there and outdoor chores need to be done early. Then its lunchtime and you appreciate the break. I know its become more fashionable in the big cities to have shops remain open during lunch, but here in our part of Umbria, everything shuts down from about 1:00 to around 3:30, and that just becomes a part of life, a pivot point in the day that you need to plan for. The sun isn’t setting until around 8:30, so you have plenty of afternoon and evening daylight to get things done. But, aperitivo hour start at around 7:00 so you want to be clean and presentable by then.
People eat dinner around 8 or 8:30, except for us because no matter how hard I try, it’s 9:30 or so before we are ready for dinner.
Most nights there is a gathering of friends to share the dinner hour. Some nights it long tables with candles and tablecloths and formal meals starting with a fresh pea soup or a feast of fragrant fire roasted little chickens. Other nights it’s a very informal and impromptu risotto Milanese. But there is always laughter and time to share our lives together.
Already the colors around us are changing. The fields were bright yellow flower carpets last week, and now the first poppies are arriving and there are fields of pink flowers showing up here and there. The wheat fields are rippling with their big, heavy, long haired green heads of wheat. And yesterday we saw the first bits of blossoming yellow broom. The poplar trees are exploding their white poufs of fluff everywhere, filling the house with tumbleweeds and making me sneeze like crazy.
I think artichoke season has peaked. I bought an entire ‘casetta’ or crate of artichokes for 6 euro and so we eat carciofi at least once a day. There are beautiful radishes and red spring onions in the market. My new favorite nibble is sliced radishes eaten with thin slices of a dry hard salumi. And the red onions taste sweet roasted over some potatoes, sweet enough that I forget its ramp season back in NY.
And now I hear the bells ringing and the morning has slipped away, so it’s time to move on to thinking about what to make for lunch. Happy Friday, and Happy Weekend to everyone….and Happy Mother’s Day to all us mothers.