Any misgivings that I might have had yesterday about what I had gotten myself into while crazily rushing about Rome and getting onto strange buses thoroughly dissipated the moment I met my host family. They were waiting for me on the curb in Porto San Giorgio with open arms, literally, and warmly welcomed me into their lives.
I realized just how bad the snow situation was on my nearly 6 hour bus ride from Rome to Porto San Giorgio. There was only 2 or 3 inches of snow on the ground in Rome, but the further we drove toward the Adriatic Coast the deeper the snow became. In the higher altitudes in Central Italy there was easily more than 2 feet of snow. Here in Montecosaro, where my first host family lives, there is nearly one foot.
Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I can fully appreciate the chaos that ensues when snow falls in a region unaccustomed to it. According to Fabio, my host father, it has barely snowed at all in 25 years, and never like this to his memory. Chiara, their 12 year old daughter, said it’s only the second time in her life she’s seen snow here. The main issue is that there’s simply no infrastructure to deal with snowfall in general, and definitely nothing of this magnitude. The snow simply piles up in the streets because there’s nothing to remove it. The people make some effort, but it keeps snowing – it’s impossible to keep up.
Speaking of Chiara, she has been the primary translator between the rest of the family and myself. My Italian is extremely limited, and my host parents’ English is also extremely limited. Chiara takes English lessons in school, and in fact will be one of my students (When school opens, that is. It has been closed for the snow). She has been instrumental in facilitating communication – along with the English/Italian dictionaries we all carry with us everywhere and Fabio’s cell phone equipped with Google Translate.
Last night when I arrived Fabio and Anna Carla picked me up and quickly fed me. Thank goodness, because I hadn’t eaten at all because of the rushing about in Rome. They took me to their home, pointing out cities and landmarks along the way (assisted by Google Translate!). I met Chiara and Francesco at their home and we all sat down to dinner. Anna Carla made lovely pizzas (one with corn, which was delicious!), rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes, and meat skewers with pork and sausages. Everything was delicious, especially after a day spent going hungry.
They also introduced me to a new wine, Rosso Piceno which is native to this region. I love wine, almost as much as I love food. This is certainly a wine that will somehow be making it home with me. My only concern now is that I’m going to fall so in love with every new thing I try and I won’t be able to take it all home with me!
Today will likely be a rather subdued day (aside from 4 year-old Francesco’s rather excitable nature). It is too dangerous to go out driving, what with the additional snow fall overnight, so we will likely stay in. The kids are trying to convince me to go out and play in the snow….we’ll see what happens. I’m sure my wish to be agreeable and open to new things will overcome my intense dislike for snow. I hope!