Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Arrivo in Italia... And An Authentic Sicilian Meal

Flying American Airlines is always a crap shoot, in my opinion, which turned out to be the case this trip. We flew to Dallas then caught our plane to Madrid, Spain, which was late leaving and therefore, late arriving. As always, I was in the line that had the agent from Hell who went through everything but my vagina. Additionally, in Madrid the customs lines were long and very slow, which caused us to miss our connecting flight to Rome, meaning we had to walk to the other end of the airport and stand in yet another line for an hour while we were issued new tickets for the next flight. After running our tootsies off, we were able to just barely make the next flight to Rome, which all caused us to be approximately 3 hours late arriving in Rome. Supposedly, a driver was waiting to take us to the apartment but he'd apparently given up after 2 hours. So, we hailed a taxi, which was a hair-raising experience we eventually became accustomed to. It's okay though. Our *driver* clipped us for the ride we missed on the way back. How special, huh? Forty Euros each equates to $54.49 each.It was supposed to be 40.00 Euros for both of us together, each way.

Upon arrival, our host Gino, greeted us at the entrance to the building, which had great security. As he carried our bags up the lobby stairs (I'm pretty sure he was cursing at us in Sicilian, over the weight of our bags.) he was trying to tell us that he had invited some friends for dinner, in our honor. After a moment, I realized that he said he'd made a lovely, authentic Sicilian supper for us, having invited some friends who spoke better English than he. We were blown away by such splendid hospitality and immediately accepted his offer. Thank gawd there was an elevator to take us up to the *penthouse* on the 6th floor. I'm quite sure he would have expired trying to carry our heavy bags up six very long flights of stairs. He had to be 75 years old, at the very least. After getting us into the apartment he told us to be at his apartment for dinner at "Otto mezza", which means 8:30.

Desperate to wash off the long trip, we quickly took showers and got cleaned up for dinner. It was then that we discovered the odd system of hot and cold water. I'm pretty sure that there is no such thing as an in between, like warm. Uh-huh. After screaming and/or shivering-screaming through my brief shower, my friend took her turn at it with basically the same results. It was really almost funny for the first several days. Almost. But, we agreed the view from our terrace was well worth whatever inconveniences we encountered.

Most Romans live very simply, love very passionately, and eat with great passion as well. Gino kept asking why we didn't eat more and I couldn't find the Italian words to tell him I've been told to not eat so much for my entire life. I should have been born Italian. Life would have been so much less complicated...

So, we arrived downstairs at Gino's apartment on time and were warmly greeted by all four Italian men with a light kiss to each cheek. As we passed the dining room on our way out to his terrace, I noticed that Gino had set a gorgeous table for our dinner to be. We all sat outside for a while getting to know one another (the best we could), as their English was not much better than my broken Italian, with my friend speaking what little Spanish she knew. We drank wine and smoked Italian cigarettes (yes, I was being a bad girl and it was fun, okay?), trying to make sense to one another which made for a rather comical scene. In addition to Gino, there was Alfredo, Alberto and Roberto, all older Italian men that had apparently been friends forever. Not one of them was under 70 years old, but they were still delightful.

Since they couldn't make sense of our Americano names, they nicknamed me *Liza* (Leeza) and my friend became *Charlotta*, which we stuck with for the entire trip. It was really a kick being called Liza but when we returned home, I turned back into Cinderella Liz. Anyway, Gino is an incredible cook. Our dinner consisted of Bruschetta and Caprese Salad for starters. After a brief pause to the terrace for smokes, we dined on the most divine Sea Bass stuffed with Buffalo Mozarella and a potato dish I can''t for the life of me remember the name of, but it was delicious. For dessert Gino made the most delectable little fruit tarts and cannolis (can't remember how to spell it) and they were so delicious that I sneaked mine into my purse to devour later, which I did.

As it turned out, Gino was once the most famous journalist in all of Italy and had interviewed the likes of Sophia Loren and Gina Lolabriggida, among many others. Then he turned into a politico, which I avoided the subject of, like the plague. Our politics don't exactly mesh with the Italian's politics, right? 

Just when we thought all was said and done, Gino announced that his friend Alfredo would entertain us with magic and card tricks, which were truly the best I've ever seen. We giggled like little school girls. Let me just say that I wouldn't ever sit down to play cards with the guy. Ever. His magic tricks were hilarious because he made them so. Then, Roberto entertained us by playing Italian songs on his Chitarra (guitar) as we all sipped the marvelous Limoncello (digestivo or aperitif) that Gino himself had made. I didn't realize that it would be the beginning of yet another addiction, but it is now my newest passion. Limoncella is to die for and if I drank nothing else, I'm quite certain my teeth would all fall out and I'd weigh over two hundred pounds. It is made from large Amalfi lemons, sugar, and vodka. Nothing fattening there, right? O mio dio!

I might have stood up and sang a song (or two) in a capella, but it's a fuzzy memory at this point. It's also a bit fuzzy as to whether or not I was applauded. It was then we realized we were ready for bed, so we bid good night to all and made our way up to the top floor, where sleep was difficult to find due to the jet lag. Still, the first day of our trip to Rome was something to remember.

On another note, we were both absolutely certain that Gino had a bit of a crush on both of us. Uh-huh. Hey, I didn't want anyone to have have a crush on me, but it was a bit flattering in an *eewwwww factor* kind of way. It was rather like having your Dad's best friend have a crush on you. Gross. Ewwwwwwwww... I'm just saying...

I'm still waiting for my friend's pictures, but will go ahead and post this without them. 

I'm so thrilled to see that Blogger has once again tried to fix things that are not broken. It definitely ruins enhances my whole blogger experience. Thanks for nothing Blogger!


The Incredible Woody said...

What a delightful evening!! I seriously love limoncello:)

Mental P Mama said...

Wonderful!! I cannot wait to go back;)

Snooty Primadona said...

Ditto! I will be so much more experienced next time I go (if there is a next time).

Suburban Princess said...

I am becoming concerned about how often you dont want men admiring and crushing on you! If they offer it...take it!

Sounds like a wonder way to start your trip!!

scargosun said...

ooo! Can't wait to see more of your trip!

Flea said...

Sounds like such a wonderful trip!

Beth Dunn said...

That sounds like so much fun! We all have a crush on you

Patricia Hannigan said...

How awesome. I'm like you, I don't smoke in real life ... but I do when I'm in Europe, at intimated dinners with foreign gentlemen on Roman balconies. ;o) Can't wait to hear more.

Heather Jones said...

Sounds like a perfect Italian evening. What fun!


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