This is a post I’m so glad to write. One of our most special experiences in Italy every July is visiting with the Basile family. We lived next door to Mario and Assunta Basile our first year in Italy, in 2007. Three of their grown kids, and four grandchildren live in the area, so we got to know them as well. Alessia, one of the granddaughters, spent last Easter week with us here in the States, as she was attending high school in Kentucky for the year.
We all speak Italian and English with varying levels of proficiency. And I do mean varying. One or two words for some of us, all the way to pretty much fluency now with Alessia. (The year in the States put her into this category.) So we have some fun communicating. Assunta and I speak very well together, considering the obstacles. But this year she told me my Italian was not as good as last year….. must work on this! You will always here straight talk from Assunta. No beating around the bush about how she feels. The Pope—this one and the last one—thumbs up. Berlusconi, thumbs up. Obama? Hmm… not so much.
Sometimes the day we spend with them is at the sea, once was at Mario and Assunta’s home, last year was at a restaurant, and this year, we gathered at Alessia’s family’s home in Vitorchiano (the next town over). Their house is beautiful, up on a hill overlooking rooftops of the neighbors. They have a pristine pool, a perfect green grass lawn (the only one I’ve seen all month!), a pizza oven (!), lemon and orange trees and two really cool spherical outdoor lamps that I must have.
The day often starts out with a smallish group of us, but as time goes on, more and more members of the family accumulate (always a surprise to us!), so that by 10 pm, there’s a gathering of 17. This time, we started with some coffee in the afternoon… and a swim.. and lots of chatting. Then some fizzy water…. then some prosecco… Next, grilled vegetables (including potatoes from our host’s mother’s garden), pork, sausages, bread, olive oil, cheeses, fruit, tiramisu, wine, wine, wine and finally, mirto, a digestivo made from the myrtle plant. The kids, whom we’ve watched grow up, sat at the kids’ table (just like a family celebration at home!) Every year I ask Assunta the same question—accidentally, I should add: Do you all get together every Sunday? Oops. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I remembered this is a sore subject on any continent, apparently.
The Basiles are the best hosts and the warmest people. They allow us to be with their family for this day every year, the real gift being that they carry on the way they would as if there weren’t four non-family non-fluent-in-Italian people plopped down in their midst. They include us when they can, and sweep us along even when they can’t. It’s authentic Italian amore, and we are blessed.
Fred showing Assunta, Mario and Alessia his drawings of Viterbo. Assunta grew up in Viterbo and knows every via and vicola!
If you look closely, you can see Mario in the pool—upper right corner.
Pizza oven chimney. The flowering plant is no worse for the wear.
Owen wants to build one in our yard. We said, you find the plans and we’ll make it happen. I think Fred and I were so enthusiastic about it, we scared him off.
Potatoes aren’t just for Ireland anymore.
These are a kind of eggplant.
Roberto rinsing the roasted peppers.
These Cypress trees (which need to be groomed) are so densely packed they are hard as a rock! I’d never been close enough to touch one!
Mario admiring his daughter and son-in-law’s yard.
The potatoes were cut two ways.
Olive oil. It’s just an every day commodity. We Americans have all kinds of fancy vessels for ours.
Father and daughter team.
My boys monitoring the situation.
Kids table! Owen, Henry, Alessia, friend Gabriele & cousin Leonardo! Later, the boys bonded by shooting bottle caps into each other’s cups. Who needs language?
The Fam! xoxoxox