Greetings from Italy where last week I greeted two couples from Minnesota to my soon to be adopted country, at least in theory. It was a very busy week in terms of making sure everything worked according to plan, but as we all know, there are always bumps in the road. Having the internet working again made it easier, but best laid plans always have bumps, so was this past week, mostly focused on the business at hand. Two sets of families having left last week, two arrivals and three sets of clients arriving to Italy at the beginning of October, which is not that far off. What is more challenging however, is that I am now in my last two weeks here myself, before I have to abide by the EU’s rules and overstay my tourist visa or simply travel on my passport. By this time next year, it should be very different.
As I mentioned, and having faith and trust things will work out, one of my suppliers, not the first time, not the second time, but more are having technical difficulties. It makes it very difficult to complete tasks if your partners don’t hold up their end and clients trust you to make sure everything is done. Overall, I have a very good relationship with my travel partners, but being able to handle an overload, with one, has their system seemingly breaking down on a regular basis. And while apologies and excuses fill the emails, the tasks can’t be completed and I am frustrated, which leads to my clients being frustrated. I also only have my reputation and that is everything to me as I am not in the business of selling commodities but providing a service that my clients have dreamed about. The last thing I need are issues arising, but they do and it is how I handle them, that in the end, makes my clients happy and that is the goal.
Last week was not all business though, even this blog is more a reflection of that. Saturday, I attended my first Italian wedding and as long as I am with Rosa, I am sure it will not be my last one. It was held in a very little church, with wood beams and stone masonry. It was quite modest in a little town about 40 minutes outside of Rome. I could not tell you the name of the little village, but you had to go up into the mountains to get there. I don’t know if I have ever been to a Catholic wedding before and certainly have not been to one done in Italian, but it was a very nice service and while there was the religious aspect, of course, it almost seemed more lighthearted. I did not understand all that was said. First, my Italian is not up to speed, and I am not a Catholic, but knowledgeable enough to understand the process and the priest even seemed to have a sense of humor. In the end, it was a very pleasant experience and then there was the food……
After the service, we headed to a villa about 20 minutes from there going back towards Roma and that is where the day continued. The setting was beautiful and the weather very nice. Now, having been to Rosa’s sister’s house for Easter this past April, my immediate expectation was that it was going to be food and more food and more food. This was certainly in a proper Italian order with the Antipasti served outside and the other courses served in a sit-down manner and the coffee and dolce again outside with the obligatory cutting of the wedding cake. Now, I have been to several weddings in my life, even having been best man at two, and while I expected classic Italian dishes to be served and there were, like porchetta as part of the antipasti and with at least one of the dishes served at the table, had some type of pasta.
I mention this only as mostly all the food I have had here in Italy has been amazing, be it at a normal restaurant or at some of the events I have attended and I won’t say that everything was less than good, but the food at the reception was not impressive at the least. Lots of it to be sure and I had a fair share of the antipasti, but the served at the table dishes were underwhelming. I am by no means a critic and in my younger years, I worked and trained as a chef long, long ago, so I also catered to events like this doing mass cooking. I also realize that you have to cater to the masses. There were not hundreds of people at this event, perhaps 50 or 60, as there definitely were empty tables that had been set up. And don’t get me wrong, but the experience was underwhelming, in some cases had no taste, and in other dishes, too salty, so I did not eat much, compared to when I went for Easter back in April, and, as I am sure you know, very, very long.
Other than that, we met up with some friends of Rosa’s last night at the pizzeria in Garbatella called Panonto, a place we had been to before. It was very nice, and it helps that both, Marco and Giovanna, speak English, so while my Italian, as noted is not up to snuff, it was a very nice evening over antipasti and pizza and the food was really good and had taste, unlike the wedding reception and conversation was good in two languages. As I write this early Monday morning, I also have packed for an event I am attending in Tuscany, followed by a weekend with Rosa in Parma, Modena and Ferrara, as she will meet me at the end of the conference in Firenze and we will go from there with more to share with you next week after the very full weeks of events and experiences.
Ciao for now and as always, I want to thank you as always for your support of my crazy little world and my small business. As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, concerns and continuing the discourse through whichever means you read my posts!!!
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin