Our journey began bright and early. Grazia and her mother picked us up shortly after 8, and we hit the road, heading to the small town of San Giorgio. Enjoying the view Apennines mountains, speckled with small hillside towns, on the winding four lane highway. Tunnels and bridges made the ride more interesting.
Quick stop on the way for benzina, Pellegrino, and a delicious croissant (it got eaten before it could be photo’d) and we were back en route. It appears that anywhere we stop there will be both sandwiches and wine. I’m starting to see the appeal.
Met up with a couple more cousins in San Giorgio. Parked the car, and started exploring the small town of 80. The population used to be twelve times that, but earthquakes encouraged a lot of the residents to move. Visiting my great grandmother’s grave site was a slightly unexpected experience, but one I’m glad to have had.
Communal dogs and cats wander the streets, and apparently my dad is related to almost everyone here – the people, not the street animals.
Lunch was at the Bar di Loreta, whose owner happens to be my Nonna’s god daughter. The second I walked in I knew I was finally somewhere authentic. I recognized the smell from my Nonna’s house, it welcomed us in and I couldn’t have been happier.
We started with a sandwich platter of prosciutto, and home made sheep cheese, Pecorino. One was like feta, and the other like parm in texture.
In stark contrast to the restaurants back home, this is very much a free for all. Grab what you want, eat it how you want. Make a sandwich, open or closed face, or just cut up prosciutto with a knife and fork. Just make sure you get some before it’s gone.
And then there was lasagna. Made with crepes. Sold. Which I thought was the main course. It wasn’t. Gnocchi with beef on a big platter came out next. The salsa di funghi on it was to die for. You should come here.
Dessert was two trays of meat.
I lied. Dessert was pizza dolce. The two platters of meat were just there to send me to nap time.
War stories a plenty from my dad’s youth were cool to hear.
The next stop was my father’s hometown of Piano Vomano. We ran into a man named Franco, whose father lived across the street from my Nonno (my dad’s father). When Nonno left Italy to come to Canada, he sold the house to this man’s father. Lots of emotions floating around as my father stood on the same spot he was birthed on (there used to be a roof, and it was right next to a wood fireplace, the family’s only source of heat).
We finished off the day with a trip to the Fontani di Trevi. Which even at 11:00pm on a Tuesday night was overrun with tourists. Piazza di Spagni were not as crowded, but still a tourist hotspot. A far too short stop outside of a small jazz club. Hoping to make it back before we head out, and that was the evening.