La Prima Comunione di Giulio

It’s Saturday 5 August 2018 and at 10:45 it’s already 32 degrees and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I’m in San Vito Chietino trying desperately to figure out how the new parking  machine works. Thankfully I’m not the only one as there’s about 30 people trying to work out how to use it. I look at my watch and see I have 15 minutes to get to the church before the first Holy Communion of my friend, Nicoletta’s son takes place. I make my way to another machine and a man explains that now you need to put in your number plate – brilliant, new car and I don’t know it yet. I decide to guess and follow the instructions and when I get back to the car alter the number on the ticket and write, ‘Mi dispiace, sono inglese’. (I’m sorry, I’m English) Having already been towed away previously, I hope this will placate any over enthusiastic parking attendant.

Church

The church is packed to the rafters with proud parents and so we stand outside and watch as the service takes place. The women in the congregation fan themselves, finding no respite from the heat within the cool walls, while the men step outside to shelter under trees.

The service concluded we head to a nearby agriturismo to begin celebrating with Giulio. The room is laid out with two long tables to accommodate us all and there’s water and wine already waiting for us. We all make our introductions, which take time as this is Italy and everyone wants to say hello, shake your hand and ask how you are; my response remains the same for everyone, ‘Sono bene ma fa caldo’ (I’m well, but it’s hot).

Food

Italian festivities are not known for being brief and at 13:15 we sit down to our first course, a traditional plate of anti pasti; cheeses and salumi. These are followed during the meal:

  • Fried spinach parcels
  • Ham roulade
  • fried mozzerella
  • stuffed courgettes (two ways)
  • Cacio e uova (cheese and egg balls)
  • Bean casserole
  • Wilted chicory
  • Courgette and ham lasagne
  • Chitarra pasta with meat ragu
  • Veal with potatoes
  • Grilled pork
  • Barbecued lamb with salad
  • Fresh fruit with ice cream

ents

During the dinner which lasted in total 7 hours with short breaks to aid digestion we were entertained by a superb band, who played a mix of traditional Italian songs and pop songs. During the afternoon, Nicoletta would join the band and with Albano and a few others would entertain us with renditions of Italian pop songs. The day was also Nicoletta and her husband’s 12th wedding anniversary, so we wished them well as they had a celebratory dance.

The party almost complete, we go outside for photographs and for Giulio to cut his cake. I don’t normally post photos of myself on my blog, but I will share this image of myself with my work colleagues. Thanks to Rocco Altobelli.

VZQT1517

We ended the day enjoying a slice of Giulio’s cake and a digestivo, my choice was limoncello as the traditional amaro isn’t to my taste.

38635882_10155465059162187_966818273863663616_n

We had a superb day and were made to feel very welcome by everyone there; family and friends. It was a special day and we felt very honoured to be a part of it. Hospitality and great parties are something that the Italian’s do very well. Grazie a tutti voi.

38468038_2171981346177099_6311874038301982720_nThis handsome young gentleman is Giulio.

Thank you Giulio for sharing your special day with with us.

Christmas Past and Present

A few days ago I re-blogged a post by Misha Herwin about Christmas and the memories of her Polish family’s Christmas traditions that she still practices today. For those that don’t know Misha, she’s a very talented author and writer of the Dragonfire trilogy, the new, Clear Gold trilogy that’s had the first volume published this year and the haunting, House of Shadows; a novel that chills you in places that chills shouldn’t occur. (I’ll post links at the end of this post so you can check out Misha and her books).

As a child I remember Christmas as a day of getting up with the first light and with my sister and rushing downstairs and shivering in the front room; as back then we had no central heating and the previous evening’s coal fire would have died. We’d be allowed to open only one present before breakfast and would grumble and whine as we went to get washed and changed for the day. How unfair grown ups are when children just want to sit and tear off wrapping paper from boxes from under the tree.

After breakfast it’s be more present unwrapping and the obligatory Cadbury’s Selection Box would be opened followed by Mother’s stern warning that we were only allowed to eat one thing. (I always used to give away the finger of Fudge or at best try to swap it, but my sister was clever she knew I didn’t like it and didn’t need to swap as she’d get it anyway).

Dinner would be at my paternal grandparent’s where I’d be allowed to go into the garage and get myself a bottle of American Ginger Ale from my grandfather’s stock of mixers and guzzle it and stand outside belching as the bubbles exploded inside my stomach. (How simple things amuse small boys).

1915285_166359657186_6818103_n

Dick Whittington. Trinity Arts Centre. Gainsborough. 1998

As I grew up Christmas ceased to be a celebration and became a busy work period. I started young in pantomime and proceeded to have the next 30 plus years working every festive season. So I was always away and staying in digs from late November to mid January and the tinsel and decorations gave way to costume changes and song and dance routines. Christmas day was usually the only day off and was spent mostly resting the voice and having a break from a face full of stage make-up. So for years I didn’t bother with a tree or Christmas lights.

10400549_25914282186_2366_n

A Christmas Carol 2000

Christmas here in Italy has been varied. Our first was during the house restoration so we didn’t dress the house as it seemed pointless as no amount of baubles and lights can make cement bags attractive. But we did have an amazing 6.5 hour marathon Christmas dinner at a local hotel. Another was with friends up in Roccascalegna entertaining ourselves as the broadband went down. Another was sat outside in the sunshine eating our festive lunch with 5 dogs running amok. However this year we’ve decided that as we’re spending the day having a traditional English Christmas with friends in Atessa, we’d get in the festive mood and have a tree. Which means I can bring out a bauble I remember from my childhood.

DSCF5279

This ball was from a set purchased around 1964 and always referred to as the ugly ball . I remember it being hidden at the back of our family Christmas trees, and I took pity on it many years ago and now 50 years on it has a prominent spot on on our 2015 tree.

As promised I’ll post the links, and wish you all a splendid Christmas as the iPod shuffles in its dock and Opshop (a New Zealand band I discovered whilst working there) play, Monsters Under the Bed.

Misha’s blog where you find information about all of her books.

Penkhull Press where you’ll find information about House of Shadows and other great books.