If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

03 August 2005

Fantabulous Festa!

On night number three of my ‘one week back home,’ The Diplomat & Renaissance Artist have decided to throw a bit of a welcome party. It’s their annual summer shindig, but larger than normal. TD explains to me that there were no forced invitations - everyone who will be here this evening are people they genuinely like and trust … and these people will form the backbone of my social existence here in the countryside (no pressure there!!!!!)

Monday evening is a flurry of party preparations. We do a ‘dry run’ on all the candles, check the awkward spots in the yard for safety (lots of past-70 year olds coming, and after dark, there’s a whole number of places that become hazardous; including a 6’ drop off near the house!), set all the furniture in the right locations, and make the base of RA’s famous bacon/zucchini pasta sauce (which he taught me the recipe for!). We cram in an impromptu visit from my last-as-yet-unmet- serviceman – Roberto the Plumber – to take a quick look at the outdoor shower and two outdoor spigots that aren’t functioning, he promises to return in late October to show me how to turn off all the outdoor faucets for the winter.

Tuesday, I have to swing quickly into the office to see Fratello Guido and Il Cavaliere, and then my project is: Get the Ice. At a party in the US, this would be the project that you give to the person who is likely to screw anything else up…. But here, finding ice is a project requiring a delicate mix of detective work, advance planning, perseverance, and just a dash of moxie. There’s nowhere in our little town. Since I’m going into the ‘mecca’ of Florence, I have the best shot at finding something. BUT, it’s not sold at the gas stations, not at the gargantuan Iper-Coop (that sells literally EVERYTHING else imaginable under the sun). Oh – and then there’s the melting problem; Florence is an hour away. Knowing this may be an issue, I think to load two portable coolers into my car; just incase I actually do find the elusive prey.

After striking out at three different stores and being only a stone’s throw from the entrance to the autostrada (and late to get back to the house to help), creativity kicks in. I head to the front desk at the Holiday Inn. Explaining, in broken Italian, my plight (I’m new here, there’s a party tonight, I need ice to keep the prosecco cold… does their restaurant have an ice machine, and may I buy some to fill my coolers? ) The woman at the desk – uncharacteristically sour for an Italian – reacted as if I had just asked her to sell me her newly-born child. But I persisted. Could I ask the restaurant myself?

And, blessedly, a more typically hospitable Italian man filled my coolers each half-full (it was all he could spare), I blissfully handed him 5Euro, and skipped back to my car feeling victorious.

Back at the house, it’s a flurry of activity. I’m on lawnmowing duty (nasty, dusty, sticky, hot at 4pm!). Then I have a quick run to the store to pick up forgotten fixings for the salad (which is of course nearly 1 hour round trip!), and finally, jump in the shower. I decide against the red off-the-shoulder outfit (trying too hard – though I know that the fashioninstas will be out in force tonight!), and go for a simple skirt and blouse that I’m comfortable and cute in.

My job is to serve champagne in the front yard as people arrive, assuring that I will have a chance to meet everyone. TD & RA amaze me: they OWN dishes and glassware to serve 60 people – including separate glasses for champagne and wine - without even breathing hard!

The party itself was a blur. Fantastic people. Some I had met before; a blessing … nice to feel I already have friends here. TD had hired two music students, who performed a concert during the evening (between courses.) Watching the shadows of the violinist in the garden dance against the trees, with the whole crowd of 60 silent and candle-lit on the chilly summer evening on the back terrace, I felt like I was in a movie. Dinner was served at 10:30… I was glad to be useful; refilling wine glasses, passing hors d’oeurves --- at the end of the night, retrieving and clearing plates. I fell into bed, wrecked from the sensory overload of it all (and too much champagne on an empty stomach!), at 3 am and slept like the dead.

A warmer welcome would not be imaginable. A fantabulous, elegant, tremendous party. And by the time I seem all of these people again, I will be living here on my own… (and have the legend of TD & RA’s hospitality to live up to!) Amazing how fast it’s gone, and yet it’s just beginning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ti ringrazio - ho dimenticato la storia sil tiramisu! Brava V! Un sacco di bacioni. Beatrice xoxo

12:00 AM  

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