It's the end of the last big summer weekend here in Italy, Ferragosto (orginally named for Ceasar Augustus' traditional holiday, "Feriae Augusti," and then nicked by the church). No doubt, the summer will plunge on here for another 6 weeks at least, but the first wave of holidaymakers will be returning to work tomorrow after several much-needed weeks' rest.
Us? We're in Perugia. With the in-laws. We seem to have spent a good portion of the summer with them (I'll explain why in future posts), including during our cherished summer holiday. I wrote this next bit a few weeks ago, but only now am getting around to publishing it... Here goes:
We're back from a lovely weeklong vacanza in La Maremma, a region of Southwest Tuscany with fantastic beaches, great wine, amazing food and those classic hilltop towns. La Maremma is a real gem -- a rare piece of Tuscany that is off the tourist trail, and yet close to Rome. Keep it a secret!
We vacationed with the in-laws, which cues up a new Top 10 (well, there's just nine) list. This one -- "Top 10 (erm, 9) clues you've been on holiday too long with your Italian in-laws" -- reads as follows:
1. you race to the breakfast table to get first crack at the family blood pressure kit.
2. at the beach, your mother-in-law is quick to point out the Jesus in the driftwood.
3. you're quick to correct her -- that's Jesus *and* Mary in the driftwood!
4. After repeated warnings, you begin castigating other random mothers who allow their children in the sea a mere three hours after lunch.
5. your father-in-law punctuates every mosquito kill with an "Obama!," even in church.
6. even your father-in-law, who knows nothing of the sport, grumbles about the Mets at the breakfast table.
7. likewise, you too grumble about the cosmic injustice of more than 30 years without an Italian pope.
8. you no longer cringe when your father-in-law, an art critic, suggests to the lovely husband-wife team who run the Slow Food trattoria how they could improve the food, even before it's served.
9. you agree, the Tuscan coast is lovely and all, but it just doesn't compare with the land-locked Umbrian Riviera.