Friday, June 6, 2014
Italy is a feast for the senses, and Cervinara is no exception to that. Every day we are flooded with sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that keep us wanting to come back to our little town. We returned here just about a week ago and we have been soaking up all that these hills have to offer.
I've written before about the sights of Cervinara; the churches, our castle tower, the mountains covered with lush vegetation. These have not changed. But yesterday, as we were having our car checked out, I marveled at what surrounded me. In the parking lot of Top Car there is a small patch of unpaved land, and we watched as one of the workers took a ladder and climbed to the top of a cherry tree planted there and harvested a bushel or so of luscious fruit. The red orbs contrasted against the green leaves, the green leaves contrasted against the crystalline blue of the sky, all provided a treat for the eyes. (The really cute mechanic who worked on our car did too!) But as I sat on the wall of the driveway and basked in the warm sun, it came to me just how lucky I am to be able to enjoy such a mundane activity as having the tire pressure checked in such a lovely spot. Jiffy Lube...nah!
I've written about the sounds of Cervinara; the church bells that announce 6:00, noon, 18:00, the chatter of the folks in the bar, the whir of the weed whackers and the droning of the ladies reciting the Rosary. But today there was something so sweet in the sounds of the kids kicking the soccer ball around Piazza Ferrari, their voices celebrating their freedom from school...it brought tears to my eyes. And this year there is the sound of water as it courses down the "torrente" from the mountain top. Usually this "river" is dry now, but due to a very wet spring we have the lovely sound of water gurgling down the hill.
I've written about the food of Cervinara; the chestnuts in the fall, the cherries and strawberries in the spring, the peaches and melons in the summer. But what about the smells? You can almost guess what day it is by the cooking aromas that waft out of every kitchen at 1:00. Sunday means a ragu, with sausage and meatballs ready to be poured over pasta. Fridays we find the smell of fish frying or grilling. Thursday, in preparation for the leanness of the Friday menu, there is very often a baked pasta; lasagna, cannelloni, or perhaps gnocchi. Mondays, to compensate for the richness of the Sunday menu, is the day we smell a chicken simmering in a pot on its way to being made into a lovely broth for homemade soup.
There are other smells as well, not always so pleasant. In the evening as a bit of dampness descends on our valley, we have the pleasure of the intense smell of manure that is being spread on neighboring fields. There is also the pungent odor of the herd of goats that comes off the mountain to graze. It's strange how I can sense that same "gameyness " when I bite into a delicious piece of chevre. Of course there's always the stink of the cigarettes that invariably show up in any public place. That I could certainly do without.
What's left but touch? Here, there is a hardness to every surface. Houses made out of concrete covered with stucco. Floors of tile or marble. Cobblestone pavers under foot. There's something unforgiving about the materials used for every day living, but perhaps that is why everything is decorated with flowers; to soften the harshness of the houses, to sweeten the smells of every courtyard, to add color and brightness to the gray of the concrete walls and buildings.
Yes, I find Italy and Cervinara to be sensational, in every sense of the word. We are happy to be back and hope that someday someone who reads this will come and be immersed in the same richness that we enjoy every day.