It’s 2:30 AM, I hear a text alert from my phone on the bedside table. I have clients in Italy, and a family needs help. They have accidentally disembarked at the wrong Prato station. An easy mistake. It was the first leg of three on a very long journey.
I immediately begin to look for ways to get them to their destination in Civitanova Marche. One train is full. This is not looking good. They tell me they got on another one, is that ok? I now begin praying that the Trenitalia employee is a kind one and ask if the person seems helpful. The next message puts my mind at ease. It simply says, “yes”.
At that moment I trust the very reason I fell in love with Italy to take care of this family and deepen their love for it as well. The people.
The flavors of Italy are so much deeper than its food. Flavors encompass the whole culture. Sweet, bold, alive.
Have you ever noticed how the first notes of a mandolin send your mind off dreaming of sparkling seas or fields of sunflowers? How the scent of fresh basil and ripe tomatoes makes you beg for spicy olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar? For me, those tastes bring back sweet memories with the Italian people while basking in the joys produced by their land.
When the family returned, we spoke on the phone so they could tell me about everything. Did we talk about the food they tasted? Of course. Did we talk about the interesting tours and beautiful places? Oh, yes! But, more than the beauty, history, and food even, we talked about the people.
They told me how helpful the lady was on the train getting them where they needed to go. How some of the best pasta makers in Italy enriched their experience not only by filling their plates, but their souls. Taking them all over the region to taste, see, and feel. About Matteo at their hotel in Siena, once a monastery, who welcomed them by name each day.
These are the experiences we taste when we taste authenticity. It’s not only food, it’s food from a land and a people who have carved a special place in our hearts.
The same night I spoke with these clients after they returned, my husband made us a homemade pesto sauce served with the Tagliatelle egg pasta from La Pasta di Aldo, a family in Monte San Giusto in Le Marche.
Our memories of Italy mingled with theirs in my mind as I savored the first bite. Al dente. And textured to hold the sauce as only a lovingly handmade pasta can be. One taste and it’s clear this family has not sold out to big production. Their pasta has captured the essence of Italy, full of flavor and emotion. You just can’t find that on a grocery store shelf.
We both smiled, sipped our wine from Montalcino, and went to Italy in our dreams that night.
Great Italian products make our world a little smaller. When we can’t jump on a plane, we can still start a pot of water, boil the pasta for just a few minutes, drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil so flavorful our throats burn ever so slightly at its spice. Within moments, we’re there. In the piazzas and homes of the people who embraced us and made us feel like we belong.