Sunday, July 11, 2010
Un Buon Weekend
This past weekend I took two of my friends Lucy and Peter a.k.a Lucia and Pietro from la programma to visit Longano- where my family is from in Italy. We took a nice early train Saturday morning (after a late night out in Rome) to get to the train station where my grandfather or "Nonno" was waiting for us. It was so exciting to bring different people to the town because it is my second home and a place where I go to escape the stresses of life.
Longano is a town of only about 800 people that lies 700 m above sea level in in the mountains of Molise. The history traces back to the 13th century and medieval structures still stand today atop the mountains. Those that live in Longano spend their time sitting in the piazza, hanging out in one of the three bars in town and cooking and eating meals together with their families- among other things. The town is not somewhere you go if you want to do touristy things or go places. It is a true vacation spot with the perfect environment for true European living: eating, walking, sleeping, spending time with friends and family, relaxing some more and enjoying the good life. One can get spoiled for staying too long, but it is well worth the visit especially in the summer when it is most active with festivals.
Our weekend was the typical restful experience that each of us needed after weeks of hustle and bustle in Rome. We started off by breathing in the fresh mountain air and cleansing our lungs of the Roman pollutants. Lucky us that we made it into Isernia, the bigger town near Longano, just in time for the weekly Saturday mercato. We wandered around the market and Lucia bought a dress and Pietro bought a pair of shoes. It was a very hot day in the city, but I knew once we got to Longano that altitude would change, as well as the temperature. We met Nonno at a gas station after having bought some food for the weekend at the most popular supermarket in the area- Conad and were off to get some pranzo.
For some reason two of the restaurants we stopped at were closed because of a matrimonio that was taking place Saturday, but the third place was definitely the winner. We sat inside this beautiful round room with windows all around overlooking a lake and mountains in the distance. I was so impressed and the location operated as a agriturismo and place to have weddings and parties. Gorgeous! We took pictures after our amazing lunch. I ordered frutti di mare that included squid, shrimp and more and for my main dish I ordered seafood risotto. It was all so tasty but a bit rushed and the waitress barely paid attention to us because of the wedding that was going on in the next room. We discovered that everything went full circle because the previous places we tried to eat at were closed for a wedding and the wedding at the restaurant was for those same two people- pretty funny.
The time had come for us to drive up the mountains to get to Longano and I was so pumped to show Lucia and Pietro around! I told them stories about the land as we made our way up and we had a great time driving past mountains and breathtaking landscapes. Once we got to the top and Nonno parked his car we got to the house and left within 10 minutes to go for a hike.
I took a second to realize I was back home and I took in all that was around me and in the meantime realized that years can pass and things still remain the same, but its me that changes more and more every time I visit. It's a pretty crazy thing that happens every time I go to Longano. I get sucked in to all its beauty and the wonders of the mountains and just how isolated it is.
Our two hour hike was quite worth it as we found bones and seashells and various other things native to the land. It was great to wander off path a bit and discover places I've never been. It's funny how I open others' minds up to the town, but they also help open me up to new things as well. We took pictures galore and got a great workout climbing up and down the hills. It was time to take a nice long nap so we headed inside and slept for a good two hours.
The rest of the weekend was spent in the house munching on homecooked food and local favorites like fried potatoes and peppers and pasta and general dishes. We also sat and talked to nonno and he told us about 50 stories in two days. Things went really great and Lucia and Pietro got a whole tour of the town in the short time we were there. The best part of all I think is when we were at the top of the mountain and we could look out to see the star-filled sky. We could see constellations and so many stars twinkling- I have never seen this many stars before! It was a perfect way to end the weekend in a town that has so much history, but also so much potential for a thriving future.