Written 2/4, Edited 2/21
After arriving back in Rome after visiting Istanbul, I decided to stay in the city for the night so I could have a nice night out with friends. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about Rome, but something always pulls me back there. I’m breathless every time I catch sight of the monuments, which I’m sure is part of it, but it’s more than that. There is this one right turn you take where the Coliseum and the Arc of Constantine line up, and at night, is breathtaking. While I can’t imagine myself staying forever, I wish teleportation were possible, or that Rome was an hour from home, because I can’t imagine not being able to go there whenever I want.
Even though Angelo wasn’t cooking the apertivo at Partage, we ended up back there again, because it’s kind of like Cheers, a place where everybody knows your name. The same crowd as always. After staying there really late, Claudia and I joined a couple of our friends and a couple of their friends, one I only know as Chef. I can’t for the life of me remember Chef’s name, only that he was a chef. Obviously. They made us carbonara at 5 in the morning, and Claudia and I crawled into bed at 7… Glorious.
*As a side note to this story, my mom told me that it’s a running joke with my family to call me Paris Hilton ever since I’ve been in Europe, due to many late nights and drinking. I’m a good sport, and can handle it, but re-reading that last paragraph I thought to myself, “Yeah, Paris Hilton sounds about right…”
The next morning, Claudia was kind enough to drive me to Agricola Rubino, my home for the next 2 weeks. About a half hour outside of Rome, Agricola Rubino is a little slice of farm paradise. Michele, Simona, and their two sons Serafino (just under 3) and Sirio (just under 1) live in this old farmhouse and have a very simple but happy lifestyle. They have 6 hectares, on which they grow grapes, olives, fruits, and vegetables and raise pigs, horses, chickens, geese, turkeys, and rabbits. They make wine, grappa, olive oil, olive oil soap, bread, cookies, and cheese which they sell at markets in Rome and use for their own consumption. They also have a market at their home every Saturday. I am learning a lot about how to live a more simple life, and learning quickly. For example, all of their food waste is separated and they use it to feed the pigs. They don’t have heating, or even hot water coming out of the sinks, only the shower. They have a wood burning stove and oven, as well as a gas range. A lot of things are old fashioned, but please point me out to one person that doesn’t want to eat fresh, homemade pizza out of a wood burning oven. Yeahhh didn’t think so.
I’m also learning really quickly about how to live with kids, which is clearly so different than what I’m used to. The children are wonderful, I have so much fun with them I wish I could play all day. Serafino loves horses, it’s all he can talk about. “Caballo… Caballo bianco. Caballo grigia. Qui caballo, qua caballo. I love it, I’m learning a ton of Italian from him and more willing to talk because I know he’s not judging me for how horrible my accent is. Although I’m not sure I want my whole vocabulary to be horse related. Sylvio (aka Sirio) is a little doll, but unfortunately he’s in his Mommy-stage, so he won’t let anyone else hold him without crying like crazy. But I still enjoy telling him how handsome he is in 3 different languages.
I’m not going to lie, the work has been really hard, and I’m working much more than I expected. Typically a help X situation is like 5-6 hours a day. I’m on the move from 8 until after dinner. But Simona is a wonderful woman with two small children, I’m pretty sure she needs the help more than I need to relax and read a book. Like I said, the work is hard, but is really rewarding. I get to think all day, mostly about what I’m doing with my life, but other times I sing (today it was “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty. Who knows why) or have entire conversations with my friends or family in my head (I swear I’m not crazy). And you get these small patches of life where the world is a wonderful place. Today, I planted garlic all day, and I’m pretty sure when I wake up my lower back is going to be so sorry, but there was this one moment when I was taking a break, eating an orange with the sun in my face. My hands were covered in dirt, but dirt and being dirty is really no longer a problem at this point. The orange was fantastic, sweet and tangy.
Another experience I had today is almost too difficult to explain. In these fields there are a ton of birds (the cute kind, not the gross crow or vulture kind), and all at once they take off flying. There must be at least a thousand of them. It makes a sound like wind blowing through the trees, and the move all together in a fluid motion that reminds me of waves. It’s truly magical, and I can’t help but stop whatever I’m doing whenever it happens.
The last was just a brief moment. I had just finished planting 5 rows of garlic, Simona was holding Sylvio, and Serafino was hugging my leg. Michele and their friend Ignacio (a HelpXer from Argentina) were working in the yard and Michele stopped to feed the pigs. This giant 300 kg mama pig comes out, followed by 8 of her tiny babies. We all stood there and watched as the mama at the food, and the babies fed from their mama. I wish I had taken a picture, it was so wonderful. Then we started making jokes about how they’d all be sausage one day. Yum.
For dinner we had roasted rabbit, bruschetta pomodoro (tomato) and turnip salad from turnips straight from the ground. Slices of cheese, sundried tomatoes, and the house wine also made the table. For dessert, a simple, not too sweet biscotti with chocolate made by Simona.