Sunday, February 27
Yesterday we watched a movie and didn’t understand much of the dialog at all. Today, however, is a good language day. First, we are off to church, where we seem to understand more of the sermon than usual. It is a big help that we have our English Bibles and can read the passage in Romans 8 that forms the foundation for the message. Once we know the context, we can, to some extent, anticipate what the pastor is going to say. Pastor Maselli teaches Sunday School to the young people today, so a man we have not met gives the sermon. He speaks slowly and clearly, and we feel encouraged that we are able to get the general drift of the message.
We leave quickly after the service because we have to take the train to Montecatini Centro, where we are met by my Enrico Spadoni, my second cousin. We have been invited for pranzo, and he drives us to his house, where wife Enza has been preparing a masterpiece of culinary art. We begin with varied selection of antipasti, and then there are at least two delicious choices for every course, right down to the end, when we are served generous slices of mouthwatering panna cotta drenched, not drizzled, with rich chocolate, followed by a second dolce, torta.
Enrico, Enza and their children, Alessandra and Simone, are the cousins with whom we are the most familiar. We have visited them several times in previous years, and Enrico, Enza and Simone spent a couple of weeks in Gig Harbor last summer. Alessandra visited 15 years earlier with Enza’s mom, Ines, who also lives here and joins us for dinner.
We get to meet for the first time Alessandra’s husband Raffaelo and son Matteo, who had his first birthday last week. He is a happy boy and reminds us of nine-month-old Micah, one of our grandsons. It’s a strange thing that we can understand some Italians well and some hardly at all. With Enrico and his family, for reasons unknown, we communicate fairly well. Enrico, Enza, Ines and Raffaelo speak no English, which is good for us, because when Lucy and I converse with bilingual Italians, we find it altogether too easy to lapse into English to make ourselves understood.
We talk about our families, travel, houses and jobs, all subjects that make the most of our limited vocabulary. Enrico and Raffaelo launch into an animated side discussion, and I struggle to understand. It is something about buying, selling and trading, with lots of names thrown in. Ah, they are talking about soccer teams, a favorite male pastime here. Enrico is a fan of Juventus F.C., and Raffaelo prefers A.C. Milan, assuredly a cause for animated discussion. These are perennially among the top teams in the country, and it seems everyone roots for either one or the other. Even if you are fan of a local team, you still must choose sides among the squads that will ultimately end up in the championship playoffs.
Even though I don’t understand what Enrico and Raffaelo are saying, I take solace in the knowledge that I have at least understood the topic, which is a step beyond my usual comprehension of rapid Italian conversation.
After dinner, Enrico goes through some family photos and gives me a pile to take home and scan for my research on family history. Lucy takes a tour of the house and comes back pleased with the tour and that she managed to converse with Enza and Ines fairly well. We return home encouraged, satisfied in heart and stomach.