Lonesome European Sideways – Day 1 and 2
Loris Scagliarini - March 26, 2007
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Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25th
It's 10AM Saturday, March 24, 2007. I turn off the computer and, with the help of my lovely wife, Brigit, I load my two pieces of luggage into the PT Cruiser and we drive to the San Francisco airport.
This year I am traveling all alone to the 41st Vinitaly.
On the uneventful Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, Germany, I sit on the left aisle beside a nice couple from the central valley, near Sacramento. As usual, I don't sleep when flying, so I make a nice dent in the paperback version of Dan Brown "Angels & Demons", which I bought at the airport and which is considered the prequel to "The Da Vinci Code". The in flight movies are the forgettable "Rocky Balboa", the interesting "Marie Antoinette", by Sofia Coppola, and the acceptable "Ms. Potter" featuring Renée Zellweger.
I would have gladly avoided the six-hour stopover in Frankfurt, but flying from San Francisco to Bologna seems to get slightly more convoluted each year. In a typically un-German fashion the flight is moved first from gate 14 to 12, then to 15. In addition, when it is time to board, the flight assistant can't get the access door to the airplane walkway open, so we are herded through a side door.
In typical German fashion though, the aircraft lands right on time at Bologna, on Sunday, March 25, at 6:55PM, local time.
It's cold and raining. After an unseasonably warm winter, just a few days before the end of winter it snowed in the Modenese Apennines, and now it has been raining since Saturday morning.
My friends Enrico and Gastone are waiting for me at the gate exit and we catch up while driving to Castelfranco Emilia. They drop me off at my mom's while they take my bags to the frescoed apartment that Valentina, Gastone and Rita are lending me this year as well.
Enrico joins me after about 15 minutes and what was supposed to be a brief visit, in typical Italian fashion, turns into a full dinner with prosciutto and cheese as hors d'oeuvres, followed by my mom's famous handmade, tiny tortellini and Maltese-style rabbit stew, cooked in red-wine. Though Brigit and I are "fishetarians", I always fall off the wagon with prosciutto and salami when I am in Italy. We wash down everything with the un-labeled, delicious Lambrusco that my mom gets from the father of my old friend and ex colleague, Cristina.
Gastone and Rita reach us after dinner and my mom pushes forward the dessert, which consists of homemade cream layered cake with beaten egg-white icing, and what my mom calls "i arvuiunzei'n col limou'n" (the little wrapper thingy with lemon zest", or strips of thin sweet dough, wrapped around finely grated lemon zest, fried, and dusted with zucchero a velo, or powdered sugar. Without twisting too many arms, my mom pours homemade blueberry and wild plum liqueur before we leave.
All the rooms in Valentina's apartment are frescoed now. The entrance and corridor are warm, painted in classic gold with light gray and brown lining. The dominating colors in the guest room are refreshing silver and light green, with light grey and white framing and a series of wall mirrors will be added sometime in the future. In the living room, the shepard in the forefront of the Panzano scene is gone, substituted by a basket of watermelon, grapes, papaya and peaches painted on the trompe l'oeil terrazzo.
By now I am very tired, but I unpack the luggage and hang up my clothes in the walk in closet before going to bed overlooked by angels.
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