Letters from Veneto: A Magical Evening

Italians are probably the most hospitable people in the world!

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation from friends in the next village for an “aperocena” (which I translate as ‘drinks and dinner’). I was looking forward to it all day, as it was to be our last day there for a few weeks; time to return home to England again. I thought about which summer dress to wear, and what to take as a small gift. 

Roberta and Claudio insisted on collecting us, and when they arrived I noticed that they were both dressed rather casually. We drove for some time, in the wrong direction of their house. I thought to myself that maybe they were taking the scenic route to please us, but we climbed over the hills along winding lanes for about half an hour until we arrived at a grassy field next to the Villa Beatrice where we parked. 

The view was stunning: several conical hills faced us across the valley, and below we could see vineyards, farms and olive groves bathed in the gentle evening sunshine. They were laughing as they took out a table, chairs and boxes from the car, and announced that we were to have a picnic to watch the sun go down behind these lovely hills.

It was fantastic! Claudio is a wine expert, so the various sparkling and red local wines were superb, produced from a cantina which we could see from where we were sitting. The same applied to the cheeses, hams and salamis, all from the farms below us. We raised our glasses to Italy, beauty, the landscape, friendship, and anything else we could think of. It was one of the most magical evenings of my life.

The glowing red sun slipped slowly behind the hills, and it was time to pack up before total dark descended. But the surprise still wasn’t over. “We’re off to Este for desserts!” Claudio announced, and drove on, down to the next valley. 

Este is a charming little town with walls which once surrounded an ancient castle but now provide the boundary of the municipal park. It is well-known for its ice cream. Three gelaterie face the old walls, owned by rival brothers. Everyone who goes to Este has a favorite, but we just went along with our friends’ choice, the middle one. What a selection! Of course, the idea is then to carry them across the road and sit in the park amongst the rose bushes to enjoy them.

Tired, but very happy, we then returned to be dropped off at our Italian home on the other side of the hills. Italians never cease to amaze us with their warmth and generosity. Even though I’m about to sell my beloved apartment (old age is catching up with us) I will never forget such magical memories, and thanks to more offers of hospitality, we’ll continue to return to stay with friends.

Myra’s amusing book about her adventures in the Veneto, "The Best Mud in Italy", can be bought from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Culture Veneto