We spent New Year’s Eve with Michelangelo and Rosella, and her cousins Paola and Carlo. We were with them the week before on Christmas and they were gracious enough to welcome us back into their home to celebrate the new year. It wasn’t unlike New Year’s celebrations in the U.S., complete with traditional foods and a countdown on TV and plenty of silliness and bubbly.
Of course, there was a feast. A gorgeous table, plenty of food and wine – before, during and after the meal. We started with tortellini in a very light tomato sauce. Unlike the cappalletti from Christmas, the tortellini were not handmade. They were from Bologna and Rosella made the sauce. Then we moved on to roasted guinea fowl, roast beef, roasted potatoes, califlower sformato. A sformato is kind of like a souffle, but more dense. The word means “unmold” and that’s what really defines a sformato. It can be any shape, but it’s put into a mold of some type and then unmolded when served. We also had lentils and cotechino (a type of sausage), a traditional Italian New Year’s dish which ensures good luck and money in the New Year. Yeah! I need both.
As I’ve said before, the Christmas season here runs through January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. So Christmas is still in full swing here. I imagine in Atlanta people are starting to take down the decorations and pack them away, trees out on the curb for the chippers. But here everything is still decorated, the nativities (presepe, as they’re called here) are still up, and concerts are still being performed. Just last night we went to a Concerto Natale (Christmas concert) in the parish church.
It was raining cats and dogs (I know, people from Atlanta have no sympathy for us) and we sloshed through the puddles up the hill to Santa Maria delle Grazie. The church was built in the 18th century (new by Italian standards) and features a gorgeous terra cotta work by Andrea della Robbia over the altar. There was an orchestra, two conductors, a choir, and two soloists, a baritone and a soprano. These churches have incredible acoustics. No microphones, just the instruments and the voices. It was an amazing experience. As with so many things here, I wish I could have them repeat parts of it. I didn’t know how good it was going to be and there were some things I would have loved to have recorded. They did a version of Angels We Have Heard on High that brought tears to our eyes. It wasn’t like anything you’ve ever heard before. It was arranged by one of the conductors, who also happens to be married to the sister of our landlord. Divine. It was a glorious evening of wonderful music and singing – a local production brought to us by the Lion’s Club. I’m not kidding.
We mark time in many ways, but New Year’s has to be one of the most meaningful. New Year’s gives us the chance to start fresh, pledge to be better people and atone for our past failings. For us, time was marked in a different way this year. New Year’s was meaningful, but not in the traditional way. It marked the end of 2015, the year we started our wonderful adventure and the beginning of 2016, the year we will end it. In fact, it was a little sad for us because it means we only have a few more weeks here. Instead of the usual resolutions or absolutions, we decided to make the most of our time left here. The coming days will undoubtedly have their share of packing, organizing, and making ready for our return, but for the rest of our time will be spent doing the things we loved one more time or discovering new things to love.