Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Marathons in Porto San Giorgio

Ancona's Port
Italy is a food centered culture; it is featured as a way to bring together friends, create community and is at the center of Italian hospitality.  This is true to an extent in the U.S. as well, it is common to meet friends for dinner or drinks, however it is equally common to meet a friend for coffee.  Here the coffees are short and not meant for sipping over long conversations (as opposed to the large U.S. coffees that can last an entire 2 hour conversation), instead it is the meals that people reinforce their bonds during.  I especially noted this emphasis on food as a way to bond this past weekend in Porto San Giorgio.

Piena (Full) from a Great Meal
I most sense the Italian generosity when my friends invite me into their homes for dinner or to share meals with them.  My experiences so far in Umbria, Pesaro and Porto San Giorgio have shaped this idea.  There is something so welcoming and intimate about someone taking the time to share their culture with you through food.  

In Umbria, Agnese prepared a lentil stew from the region the first night and we became familiar with each other over this first meal.  My friend Ilenia invited me to her home in Porto San Giorgio this past weekend and we became fast friends over apertifs and pizza Friday night.  Saturday we became closer friends during a wonderful lunch where we shared regional foods, languages and stories.  I have come to think of Italian meals as marathons, you have to pace yourself in order to save room for the end.  Our Saturday lunch consisted of tagliare (Italian cold cuts), bruschetta, an assortment of fried finger foods, vigesgrassi (this region's lasagne), crema catalana (like creme brulee), biscotti (cookies) and plenty of wine.  Sunday I yet again found this warmth created by the sharing of a meal when Fiona cooked polenta with a delicious meat sauce for me.  Every bit the example of a southern Italian, she said "Manja manja (eat eat)" until I could eat no more; again showing the Italian generosity.  Interestingly, multiple people have told me that while Italians are incredibly generous hosts, it is unusual for them to have someone stay with them as my host family is doing.
Mountains near Porto San Giorgio

Of course food was not the only highlight of the weekend!  Ilenia also took me to Ancona (where my parents had taken a ferry from to Croatia for their honeymoon) and we saw the beautiful panoramic view of the port where all the cruises leave from.  Additionally, we visited a heels factory where I gained a much greater appreciation for all the craftsmanship that goes into the beautiful shoes that are made here; with each heel of each shoe sculpted individually and painstakingly.  Saturday we started the night out at a really nice lounge where a live band was playing that had a great rhythm perfect for a relaxing start to the evening.  The lounge also had "Roman Holiday" playing in the background (I got a bit distracted watching it, after all I've finally been to some of the places in it!).  Then around 2am we headed to the discoteca and ended the night dancing until 4 in the morning!
Christmas Festival-Candelara

Sunday I got an early start and headed back to Pesaro at 10am (a bit worn out from the night before admittedly).  After lunch at Fiona and David's, we headed to the Christmas Festival in nearby Candelara.  Candelara is known for its candles so three times during the evenings of the festival the lights of the entire town go out and it is illuminated only by candles.  It was a beautiful sight, with the flickers of candle flames giving the picturesque city a warm light and the vendors' stalls seeming to go back in time.  The beautiful darkness did have one downside though; we had to essentially play Marco Polo in order to keep track of each other!  This weekend Dana, Elena, Anna and I are going back to participate in all the fun kid-oriented activities the festival includes!
Candelara by Candlelight

No comments:

Post a Comment