Mi ricordo i tempi buoni…I remember the good times. And, this was one of the best. It was just a month before Ray died and we came back to Italy. Things were good. Ray was on the mend, and he actually had a good prognosis. Just after we returned, the doctors even used the term “remission.” He was feeling fit, we did so much on that trip. He tuckered me out and I loved every minute of it.
Mi ricordo i tempi buoni. I will never forget the awe we shared as we experienced Venice, Florence, and the Tuscan coutryside around Siena. Two weeks with the same person can be a long time, unless it was with Ray.
But I must “ricordo i tempi buoni.” Our first trip to Italy was in the 80’s and our destination was Ray’s ancestral home; Randazzo, Sicily. Turns out this is not such an easy place to get to.
Ray’s grandmother was from a little village outside Randazzo called Monte LaGuardia. It was on the slopes of Mount Etna. Once we finally found the little village we saw that the humble little home was centuries old and built out of lava that pour across the road there from the volcano. It was my first visit, but not Ray’s. He had been there in the 70’s to meet his Nana.
Josepina and Caterina could not speak a word of English and I not a word of Italian beyond “ciao.” But, it was probably the most memorable meal that I will ever eat. Ray’s aunts, elderly at the time, must have prepared for days for the nephew that was coming from America, Maria’s grandson…the sister that escaped. Wine was served and it kept flowing. Then along about 4pm, one of the sisters unboxed (yes, it was still in the box) a record player. They played a tarrantella. They danced for us! They were both in their 80’s at the time, mi recordo. Caterina fell asleep. I was soon to learn that htis was s sign of “inclusiveness,” she was comfortable with me.
Ah, mi recordo. It was late November with weather like Southern California, but a little cooler. We couldn’t find a room in Randazzo so we take a “room” over top of the Agip gas station, it was about 7 dollars/night. That’s about what it was worth. We were freezing because it got cold that night and the Italians could not justify paying for energy when a simple, scratchy blanket is free. I will never forget the ding, ding as the cars pulled into the filling station. Mi recordo.
This is why I’m happy to be back in Italy. It’s sorta like Kentucky. Sorta.