Post 26 – Wined and Dined in Italy

Picture this: sloping rows of green vines perfectly spaced apart stretching far as your eye can see criss-crossed with yellow-brown stripes of earth in multiple golden hues. If you squint you can see dangling pale green globes clustered on their vines, somewhat hidden amidst the overall shades of green. Despite having arrived unromantical-ly on a narrow, winding road (maybe its a rustic kind of romantic) via a bumping bus (though no complaining – the bus had A/C and comfortable seats. I just get motion sickness easily) you suddenly feel transported to the set of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun (well, ignoring the fact that you’re not in Tuscany. Details, details).

This is wedding feast part two and well actually, despite my brief description you actually don’t have to picture it ‘cause here’s a picture for you right here.

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The wedding weekend concluded rather splendidly as it had begun with a generous feast of Italian food and wines, rather appropriately situated at a vineyard in a restaurant nestled among the rows of grapes. It’s a day for agriturismo, they had told us, so I figured we’d see some grape vines, get a tour of the vineyard, and have a light lunch. After the previous day’s meal, why did I ever think a light lunch was on the menu?

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When we arrived at Corte d’Aibo, we were told that we could wander the grounds and feel free to take breaks as we wished during the meal. There was another wedding party seated outside on the restaurant’s porch so we were led to a long table inside. Another epic meal began with a lightly dressed salad of greens, fruit, and nuts, a welcome change from the usual prosciutto (who am I to complain about too much prosciutto!)

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The vineyard’s own wines were of course featured with the meal. A selection of fresh pastas (of course) followed the salad, only each pasta was brought out individually so that we gorged ourselves on each one, expecting each to be the last one. We had no printed menu to prep ourselves for the feast ahead and so we ate, and let me say these pastas were definitely some of the best food we had the whole trip.

There was the cheesy zucchini and ham pasta cooked perfectly al dente.

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Then they brought us the tagliatelle with ragu (of course). Also delicious though not my favorite.

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The final pasta was a rich and flavorful truffle pasta.

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We decided after our decadent pasta course to take an exercise break to make more room. The boys played some Foosball and I wandered the beautiful grounds.

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After a brief pause, we were summoned back to the table for our main course – a steak with potatoes, arugula, and green beans and a red wine dressed beef dish with stuffed tomatoes. Both were flavorful and savory, though not as good as the tenderloin from the night before.

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The meal ended with a simple tray of sweets, as was to be expected, though it came nowhere close to the generous selection from Saturday night. We also sipped a strong walnut liqueur that tasted similar to Port wine.

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Both Saturday and Sundays meals proved not only to be delicious, but also a wonderful opportunity to meet all of the bride and groom’s friends. The group represented a wide range of cultures and languages spoken and everyone had a different life story to share, yet all of them able to do so in English. During our meals, I spoke with a young woman from Poland who knew fluent Italian as well as English and who was working on her French because her current work had taken her to Paris. Another man was raised speaking French and English thanks to his parents, though he could also speak Italian and Russian quite comfortably due to his experiences abroad.

I am often in awe thinking of how naturally and easily non-native speakers communicate in English when many Americans have little interest in studying foreign languages. In many countries in Europe, learning a second or even third language is a mandatory part of schooling and happens very early so that most children upon graduating can get by in English without trouble.

Though I think food speaks for itself and is an easy vehicle through which to connect with someone, speaking a foreign language can lead to amazing connections. I am grateful to the bride and groom for taking us to the rolling green hills and beautiful villas of Italy if not only for the delightful food, but also the rich conversation and the chance to connect through language.

Sadly, our stay in Ferrara ended on Sunday, though we made sure it was on a positive note. After a sleepy bus ride back from Corte d’Aibo and some down time at the Villa, Sam and I enjoyed dinner at a pizzeria on a beautiful side street in the city center (yeah I know, we ate again even after such a large feast).

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We biked home under the darkening sky, returning for one last night at the magical Villa where we said our goodbyes to friends and family, anxious and excited for the next celebration.

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