Our daily lifestyle generally revolves around a fast-paced urban lifestyle. We considered the second part of our holiday to be with La Famiglia, the Italian way of Life – a family reunion. Although we have spent most of our adult lives in large cities, we were both lucky enough to experience a childhood in the provinces.
We landed in Venice sometime around midnight. We had hoped Italy would offer some pleasant temperatures after the freezing cold of Prague and Budapest. As we waited outside the airport in the misty chill, I had my doubts.
From where we started [here], we’ve experienced through places, seen many people and ate interesting food. Foreign places awaken the senses and inspire us as much as they inform us.
The “agriturismo” we had booked into had a shuttle and was only a few minutes from the airport. An agriturismo is basically a rural Bed and Breakfast (BnB). Not having had a good bite to eat since we left Budapest I took a dive straight into our Jungle bars and seed reserves. Make a note, when traveling, be sure to pack some emergency snacks.
In the morning we were greeted with heavy fog and frost but warmed by the fact that we were driving in our hired Fiat Panda out of Venice towards the gigantic Dolomite Mountains. Our road trip to Tarzo in the Veneto region northeast of Italy was as many times before, full of interesting sights. A diverse landscape of snow-capped peaks, old Italian villas nestled on top of hills, valleys, rivers, and lakes. The narrow roads through small traditional villages and towns take longer and are worth the extra time. In Italy, history, architecture, castles, and vineyards are unforgettable visual experiences.
Before long, we reached our destination to greet the family and that’s where the Italian way of Life starts. The morning fog had lifted completely and for the next 12 days, we would enjoy blue skies and sunny days. Only the nights are a reminder that it was in fact winter in Europe. La Famiglia is one of the most important aspects of Italian life. Most of our time, hang on, all of our time was spent catching up with close family members as well as aunts and uncles, cousins, children and the latest arrivals to the family.
The Italians talk fast, they’re expressive with their tone and voice, their facial expressions and body language all form part of the conversation. Using hand gestures to emphasize their point, opinion or advice. Often Italians talk over one another to be heard and of course, every conversation sooner or later turns to food.
So catching up was pretty awesome, there is always plenty of food and drink, the cuisine is colorful, flavorous and generous. Always best enjoyed in good company. We were deep in the heart of Prosecco country, harvesting good times with family, sharing traditional dishes and interesting stories well into the night.
Talking about food and drinks, if you feel like having a cappuccino after lunch you will end up getting a hefty lecture not only from the family but also from bystanders and the proprietor of the coffee bar. On the upside, having a Prosecco or an Aperol Spritz, before lunchtime was totally acceptable. In general, they laugh it off and serve you a cappuccino anyway.
In such small villages, everyone knows each other and a stroll to the grocery store or pharmacy around the corner one has many encounters with the townsfolk. A true Italian family lifestyle – La Famiglia. In the little stores, the time has stood still and the smell of mozzarella, salami, biscotti, and espresso brings back childhood memories.
A bottle of water or a single espresso is 40 cents, to bring it in perspective, the same beverage along the well-traveled routes will set you back a least 2.50 Euro.
The locals were friendly and helpful wherever we went. To our surprise, the Hotel (a 100-year-old small traditional hotel) we had booked, had a serious plumbing issue that necessitated ripping most of the kitchen the day before our arrival. The hotel was closed for the rest of the month and the owners made an exception for us, welcomed us as their only guests and treated us like family.