This weekend, we had what I would call a very Italian experience. Not always what you planned on, but interesting and fun if you are open to it.
As planned, we set off on our day trip to San Gregorio da Sassola for the Sagra del Cinghiale AKA the tasty boar festival. We knew the weather looked bleak. Rain predicted on and off all day. We decided to chance it. A warm rain feels different than a wet rain, right? We armed ourselves with rainboots, jackets, and umbrellas and set off.
San Gregorio da Sassola is just an hour away. We found parking right outside the fortress. The fortress looked pretty sweet. Much more castle-y than you might see elsewhere.
Unfortunately, it was raining. No biggie. We busted out the rain gear and set off into town.
Also unfortunately, there definitely did not seem to be any festival happening. Was the rain the issue? Would it be set up later in the day? We inquired with some locals. They pointed to a poster. The festival sign had been updated. It now proclaimed a bistecca festival happening on the following weekend. Whoops.
We wandered a little more around town. James started talking to lady selling bread in a tiny cave-like store. He decided to buy some bread. The lady decided to sell him everything in the store.
She seemed particularly excited to offload a jug of what she proclaimed to be her family’s home-pressed olive oil. Discussions were had. Negotiations were made. She really wanted to sell us the whole jug. Eventually, she went to a shelf where she pulled down a used, but washed, Coke bottle and funneled 1.5 liters into it.
Yes, this means I now have a Coke bottle of cloudy liquid on my counter. Yes, every time I look at it, I think, who peed in that Coke bottle? And what disease did they have? They should get that looked at.
And, yes, the children keep looking at it and demanding Fanta.
Our pastry pushing friend directed us to her son’s restaurant for a lunch. Amidst the heavy rain, we loaded back into our car to seek the restaurant. At first, we couldn’t find it. Then we saw a sign that advertised that it was 200 meters down the road. After going quite a ways and not finding it, we turned around. Then we decided to turn back and try again. At least one km later, we found it. Not to be fooled again, I made James run inside to see if they were open before unloading the children.
They were. The menu featured a five course lunch, complete with beverages, for 20 euro for adults. We enjoyed a long lunch with some excellent food while we dried out.
When you think about it, the whole day sums up the Italian experience. Things may not be well-publicized or easy to look up. Things don’t always go the way you plan. You may meet interesting characters along the way. They may simultaneously be trying to fleece you and have your best interests at heart. If you don’t get upset about dashed expectations, you’ll probably enjoy yourself along the way. And the food is almost always pretty great.
P.S. We also decided not to try for the petals at the Pantheon for Pentacost. After hearing from someone who did go, I think we made the right call. She arrived at 8:40 and was the last group admitted for the 10:30 service. There were only a few seats for high needs individuals. But she said that it was pretty magical. Maybe next year . . .