Above the Village, Inside the Walls, A-Top the Hill
Gabriel with the girls, Gaia and Carys, received their Italian citizenship some months ago. Wednesday, August 7, 2013 Lydia's paperwork had finally made the trip from Rome to Torino. She and they are all four bonified citizens of Italy. His for Argentina and Italy, her the USA and Italy. After the swearing in ceremony, we had the little cakes and coffee I wrote about. Before we left City Hall, the Mayor invited the Girls, with the adults, to come Thursday evening to their house for a swim in their indoor pool.
We drove the somewhat circular streets up the hill behind Lydia's apartment. Up the incline beside the high wall, ...finally Gabriel called, "Which house?" We were on the correct street and the Mayor had come out to wave us in to the proper gate. First we met her husband, Umberto, a paint manufacturer. The buildings of their house are very old. They bought them ten years ago. The rundown condition required five years of repairs. Now it is in a beautiful state and they have lived there these last five years.
After a tour of the property, we went to the bath house, indoor and underground, with a ceiling of bricks. There was, of course, a bath room for changing, a shower room for getting wet, the pool for swimming and finally the hot, jacuzzi tub relaxation. I wondered if this might be something like one would have experienced in the "baths" of ancient Rome?
We had exited the house through the family dining and living area. It seemed to be something we might call a breezeway. But there were no screens, only glass doors and windows. We entered a beautifully landscaped back yard. There were wide borders filled with a variety of scrubs and flowering plants around the plots of lawn. Straight out the dining doors one looked across the lawn to a pond of Koi fish with fascinating decor. Behind the pond rose a crescent brick wall with stairs on either side, leading to a trysting place of lawn and shade above the lower yard.
Back on the main lawn level, to either side of the pond, but a distance away so a sidewalk could cross to the stairs, were two olive trees. They were imported from Spain four years ago. The one on the right is 700 years old. The one on the left is 1,000 years old. They appear in very good condition. After settling into their new environment, this year they are producing a few olives. They are expected to come to full production in the next few years.
Out the dining door we took the path to the right beside the 700 year old olive tree. As the sidewalk left the yard, the bath house was on our left and a brick wall on the right overlooking another 20 by 30 foot courtyard, facing the street with it's iron gate closed and locked. The small, three story house to the right is the oldest existing building. It was built in 400 a.d.
After the swim, we returned to the dining room for supper. The Mayor served what I think would be six courses: first was a plate of prosciutto as well as another pork sausage, second was a plate of pealed and sliced tomato with balls of mozzarella cheese, third was an offering of chopped raw beef, not bad, I have to say with plenty of salt and black pepper, forth came a platter of rolled and sliced pork, fifth was the dessert, peach pie, good and different than we've known, then finally a round of small coffees.
The surroundings were beautiful, the conversation was very good, the food so delicious, the older couple so hospitable and interestingly knowledgeable of their world. To top it off, a great thunder storm came and poured rain. The rain came through the joints of the windows where the glass meets wood. It came through the joints where wood meets wood. Where it should have been putted, the rain came in. It was very strange to sit at the table, then stand by the window watching water pouring through places that should have been tight against leaking. The Mayor brought table cloths, bedding and other absorbent fabrics to gather up water running across her ceramic tile floors.
There are three Churches on the hill next to the house and other houses. The Churches are two side by side and one across the street. One was built in the 1300's and belongs to the Villa Family, the first rulers of the village. The next was erected in 1640 through the early 1700's. The newest was built in the 1800's. As I have mentioned before, their bells keep ringing out the time of the day or night, the Ave Maria at three, five and seven, when the faithful die and when the new are born.
Through the entire evening, it was not the thunder and lightening or the pouring rain, it was not the interruption of changing bells, it was the introduction of new foods from old cuisines, the sound of very old dialects spoken as music to uncomprehending ears, the joy of laughter between old men and children, the joy of spoken words having meaning in two or three languages all at the same meal. That was a night to remember.