Wine Cellars and Mozzarella

January 2, 2017

[July 31, 2016] 

After cappuccinos, Andreea’s phone buzzes. She picks it up and starts speaking in furious Italian, as we drag my suitcases through the beautiful Roman cobblestones I remembered so vividly. Tanino picks pulls up along side us in the middle of Italian traffic across from a gelato shop (obviously), and we make our way home. 

Since I saw them four years ago, many things have happened in all of our lives. They have found their own place and explain how expensive it is to live in Rome, and how they love their apartment and are lucky to have found a place that has it all: a garden for Tanino, a patio to host their family and friends, and just enough space for the two of them. In Italy, as it is with most European countries, it is rare to move out of your family’s home in your twenties, in drastic contrast to the American way of life. Andreea and Tanino are among the few of their friends who are able to pay rent with their salaries, amongst a very difficult economy which thrives on the hospitality and tourism industries, but doesn't allow opportunities for young people to pursue dreams outside of these fields. 

We arrive home at 9 pm and they immediately start whipping up a four course meal, which is apparently the norm in Italian cuisine. Tanino flies through the kitchen frying, sauteeing, and rapidly yelling in Italian, and “forces” Andreea and I to sit outside under the Italian stars with a glass of red wine, mozzarella (the true, authentic words), tomatoes, and basil. Wonderful people, wonderful hosts. Tanino brings out plate after plate, chicken with bacon and red sauce, and Andreea’s mom arrives. I had been waiting years to meet her family, and she warns me that her mother will understand nothing of what I’m saying. Language barriers are my favorite thing, so I just motion enthusiastically and hug her, hoping she understands. Her eyes are warm and friendly, and love, like I learned years ago, transcends language.

At some point well past a bottle or three of wine, Andreea decides to give me a tour of Tanino’s wine cellar (“he is obsessed! he loves them! We can’t touch anything,” she laughs). We venture down three flights of stairs to the building’s basement and of course we can’t find the light switch. I’m laughing because I’m useless, can’t speak Italian, and have had way too much wine. Andreea is laughing because she lives here, and can’t find the light switch. Tanino is laughing because Andreea lives here, can’t find the light switch, and I can’t speak Italian. We are in the dark since Andreea will not ask Tanino to turn on the light switch. We double over in laughter, and I enjoy this moment, these people, my friends. Adventures in this life of ours, being who I am and where I am, in this moment, in a dusty wine cellar, in Italy with two people I never thought I would see again.  

Andreea whisks out a giant tub of tiramisu and Tanino carries out a jug of homemade limoncello from the neighbors trees, whose branches hang beautifully over the fence into Andreea and Tanino’s yard. And somewhere amongst the laughter, the deep night sky, and the sweet yellow liqueur, the hours turn slowly to morning.

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