David and Edith were only here for ten days, but we managed to see and do a lot in that time. In addition to seeing major sights and well-known cities, we took them to the Sagra della Polenta, or Blessing of the Polenta, in Monterchi. It may not be world famous, but it ranks right up there in terms of not-to-missed events in this part of the world.
These festivals are big money makers for the community. The locals all pitch in and help cook, the kids are the servers, and everyone for miles around comes and eats and drinks and makes merry. They usually run from Friday through Sunday and they have rides for the kids and bands for the adults and enough food for everyone. This one had polenta with meat sauce, grilled polenta, grilled sausages, grilled organ meat of some kind, polenta with pancetta, and sliced tomatoes. And wine and water. What more do you need?
David and Edith’s flight out of Rome left at noon or so, so we decided to spend their last night in Rome to make it easier for them to get to the airport. On the drive down to Rome, we stopped in Montepulciano and Orvieto. We didn’t have a lot of time in either place because we had to get to Rome in time to turn their rental car in and because you never know what kind of traffic situation you’ll find in Rome.
Orvieto has a gorgeous duomo and we stayed there just long enough to take a quick tour of it. Just like most grand and wonderful things in Italy, this one has a legend. In 1263, the Miracle of Bolsena occured. A Bohemian priest was making a pilgrimage to Rome to strengthen his faith and seek confirmation that the host taken at mass was indeed the body of Christ. He stopped in Bolsena, near Oriveto, to celebrate mass and when the host was broken it spilled blood all over the Corporeal (the linen cloth used during mass). Pope Urban IV was living in Orvieto at the time and ordered the cloth brought to Orvieto to be enshrined in there. The only problem was the existing church was not worthy of such a relic, so construction began on a new, appropriately grand, one. The result was a spectacular Italian gothic church which dominates the landscape of Orvieto.
So with that, our last church, our last hill town, we continued on to Rome. With just a few minor hiccups, we got to the hotel and returned the rental car in enough time to have a last cocktail before our last meal together. It was very appropriate that these two native Roman men (Rome, Georgia, that is) had their last night together in Rome, Italy.
Spending ten days with others can be wonderful or it can be too much. This was wonderful for us. We were happy to see familiar faces, to share some of what we’ve experienced with them, to discover new places with them, and just to enjoy their company. Friends and family are what make your world special and uniquely yours. They are what you carry around inside you all the time. They are what inform your opinions and your attitudes. They are the faces you glimpse in your mind’s eye when you see something that reminds you of them or of a special time together. The friendship between David and Steve is decades old and as strong as a rock. They can go months without seeing each other and pick right back up where they left off. They can tell the same story for the thousandth time and still laugh like it was the first. To borrow a line from David, if we are measured by our friends, then we are giants. David and Edith, thank you for visiting us. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. A presto!