The League Of Nations Dinner
That's what last night felt like, out group made of up three Brits, One German and one Sicilian went for dinner up in the hills at the home of another couple, he's Italian and the lady of the house is Croatian.
We were treated like royalty, flagons of home made red and white wine were poured enthusiastically every time our mugs looked a little empty, we dined on roasted pancetta cooked over a charcoal grill, rosemary chicken (they keep their own chickens), black truffles on bruschetta, potatoes roasted in their home pressed olive oil, cured sausages, baked pork, figs, plums and peaches all picked from the trees in their orchard only moments before we ate them, and then panacotta and local cheeses.
The language barriers didn't seem to matter much after a pint or two of red wine, and of course the grappa came out ofter dinner, Croatian fire water this time, which was downed in one after much clanking of mugs and jovial shouts of "Cheers" and "Salute".
It was a lovely night, fabulous hospitality. Kath hasn't surfaced yet this morning, but we walked miles in Rome in quite incredible heat yesterday so we're not just blaming the wine. We saw the Vatican, the Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, then the Coloseum, very touristy but great fun. The only thing that marred the experience for me was the complete inability of the crowds inside the Sistine to keep quiet despite being hushed by the priests and staff.
The whole of the Vatican is awe inspiring, to raise such a monument to the worship of God, to create such art and such beauty, it is just a shame that people cannot manage even five minutes of quiet contemplation.
It's our last day today, Ilka has cooked a number of beautiful meals for us, and today her husband Nuccio has returned from Sicily with bags of huge prawns (which we were eating raw yesterday, just doused in olive oil and lemon juice) and squid, today he is going to cook seafood pasta for lunch, then we're off to look round the area where they get truffles here.
Everywhere I travel in Europe I am constantly reminded of how much better people are connected to their food and farming traditions than we are in Britain where the giant supermarkets and the processed food industries have us in their thrall.
Ciao for now.