Last night in Morolo as we were about to set the table for dinner a car pulled up to the gate and buzzed. It was Linda’s cousin and their baby paying a visit. They just dropped in, unannounced. This is rural Italy. People just visit one another whenever they please - unannounced. Michael thought this was completely rude and inconsiderate. “What if we were in the middle of eating?” They wouldn’t mind, came the answer. They would have just sat right down with us!
Well all this was unacceptable – Inconceivable! Such bad manners! – until after dinner we decided to go visit Mario, another cousin. On the way, though, we thought we’d stop and say hello to the neighbors Giuliana and Berto who live 2 doors down. (Giuliana had given us the chicken from her coop that we ate for dinner so we had to thank her.) We walked up to the door, Jo cried “Yoo-hoo” and Linda knocked. They were eating supper. But the door opened, we were ushered in, and within one minute the plates were cleared and we were sitting at the kitchen table with a basket of homemade wine cookies and a ciombellone under our noses. Berto popped out the door and came back wagging a green, unlabeled bottle of wine that he poured into a tray of blue water glasses. And then – another knock at the door and 2 more people dropped in. More glasses, more wine, conversation, hands flailing, laughter. Nothing fancy, it all happened around the kitchen table. We stayed 20 minutes and were off in a flurry.
Next stop Mario’s. We buzzed at the gate, it opened, we marched into their living room and immediately had gelato, chocolate bars and whiskey to float the ice cream in. More conversation, laughter, hands flailing. News, politics, family gossip. Before we left his wife Paola handed Jo a shopping bag with a load of prepared artichokes and half a rabbit. Out the door we went with kisses, best wishes and good cheer.
Very merrily we headed home only to find a car in front of our gate. Graziano, a friend from the next town had dropped in. He was just leaving a bottle of wine when we pulled up. Kisses, hugs, come on in for a minute! So back in the house we visited with Graziano until 11:30 – conversation, laughter, hands, cookies. And then he left after 15 minutes. It seems that people in this area drop in for a visit the way we say hello to each other on Facebook. It’s just a short visit, but in person, with food, wine and always the kiss hello and good-bye. We’re wondering if we should try to do this back home in New York?