With the house now finished, the time had come to host an aperitivo evening for our friends and neighbours. Over the past 3 years, we have been included in many gatherings, regardless of our ability to converse fully or reciprocate in kind. Now was our chance. With a guest list approaching 30 people, it was lucky that our evening just so happened to coincide with big sis and my brother in law’s visit! While big sis and I busied ourselves in the kitchen, the boys hunted and gathered and rearranged the rubble pile to make more room for outside entertaining.
Living in Italy, we have learnt never to expect events to start on time so we were almost caught out by our first guests’ punctuality. From that point on, there was a steady stream of guests and gifts (something else we hadn’t expected). Big sis and my brother in law did sterling work in manning the bar whilst also providing entertainment with mime and pigeon Italian. M and I mingled and led tour parties around the house (very popular!). We also encouraged everyone to help themselves to a generous array of Italian and English inspired nibbles. After lots of menu planning and two days of cooking and fretting that either there would not be enough or it would not be up to standard (especially as I had refused all offers of contributions), it was a relief to see the following at the end of the evening:
The cheddar and Pimms, despite some initial reservations, were particularly popular but as the picture shows, so was everything else, much to our disappointment as we were relying on leftovers for our evening meal!
It was also a relief to be able to show our friends just why this ‘project’ had taken so long. Those who knew the house were amazed at the extent of the transformation; in the words of one guest, ‘from farmhouse to villa…..the house has been reborn’.
So, how do you judge the success of an aperitivo evening as a foreigner in a small Italian village?
- everyone invited attends
- all the food goes
- lots of laughter and conversation
- you end up with more bottles of alcohol than you served
- you have multiple and competing reciprocal invitations!
If proof were needed that we are now well and truly part of the village, then this was it, reinforcing everything that we knew about our neighbours’ generosity, kindness and friendliness and the extent to which we have been accepted here.