Caro Diario (Dear Diary)
I am sipping an espresso in our tiny cucina here in the middle of the Chianti region while trying to recapture some of our experiences over the last few days.
During the last few days, we have not ventured too far from Poggio Asciutto since our mornings are so busy. First we have an espresso made on our little 3-burner stove in our apartment, then, maybe, some fresh pecorino cheese. Then as soon as Massimo sees us leaving the apartment, he offers us a cappuccino. OK. Time to get moving. It can’t be 11 a.m.! Already? So, we rush to the car with cameras and maps in hand and head to Greve for…another cappuccino and a chocolate filled brioche. Now it’s almost noon … the villages shut down from 1 p.m. to at least 3:30. Oh, well, that is the best time to wander through town.
Saturday was market day in Greve, so we carried on our tradition of visiting our favourite vendors. The purse vendor even remembered us! Hmmm… is that bad or good? I stayed away from the olive vendor. Sadly, my Italian has not improved any since my last visit so I would just end up with too many olives.
There seem to be festivals for everything here… wine, olives and even bovines! Yep. A festival for bovines in Chianti! We couldn’t miss it. Piazza Matteotti in Greve was set up with wine selling tents, and a “smokin'” large BBQ where the “chefs” waved the 2 inch thick Chianti beef over the grills long enough to brown the outside. Luigi took one look at the rare piece of bovine and said “uh-uh…I’m not eating that”. It was Thanksgiving anyway. We went to the grocery store and bought good ol’ Chianti turkey (breast) for supper.
Grocery shopping has been interesting. We have learned that, at least at the “Coop” grocery store, you don’t touch the fruit with a glove-less hand. I am so glad that I took the time to observe the locals before “digging” in so to speak. Not only do you need to use the glove, you also must remember to put your veggies on the scale, punch the correct number and voila, your sticky tag spits out of the machine. As I was buying our veggies (with my GLOVED) hand, weighing them, tagging them, etc. Luigi was in awe. I almost felt more Italian than him.
Olivia, Eva and Massimo’s seven year old daughter is my language teacher. She is, of course, fluent in Italian (and Swedish and is learning English), but when she talks to me she speaks slowly and with extra hand gestures. Though, sometimes we still have to call in help from my translator. One evening Luigi and I volunteered to pick up Olivia in Greve where she was visiting a friend. The friend’s mother told Olivia “Stranieri (foreingers) will be picking you up”, Olivia said “Those aren’t “stranieri”, they’re “Canadesi” (Canadians). Afterwards, Olivia took advantage of the 10 minute ride home to teach me how to count to 100, I mean cento.
Luigi has just returned “home” with a bowl in hand. Eva has sent him out on a fig “hunt”. I am not sure how many figs will make it past Luigi’s lips. I’d better go to supervise.