This Saturday, Jeremy and I ventured to the market to buy a few things for the apartment, and then in the afternoon, took a 15-minute train ride to Fabro, a neighboring town. At the station, we were met by some good family friends of mine who are generous and wonderful people. They have two children who are in their teens, who I hadn’t seen in more than a year and had just spent a month in the States at summer camp. I had warned Jeremy before about how amazing their family’s country home was, but I think he didn’t believe it until he saw it.

Just five minutes from the train station by car led us to a place that seemed far away from any city: three houses, an exercise room with a sauna, bocce court, small soccer field, laundry room, garage, hen house, pool. All of this is not to mention the dozens of fig trees surrounding the houses, the fruit from which we plucked and ate fresh from the tree.

Not to mention the grove of olive trees, from which they press and sell their own olive oil (which is truly delicious)! The home began as a simple second home for the grandfather twenty five years ago, and since then he bought surrounding land and converted what had been stables and other farm buildings into beautiful houses. He took up an interest in agriculture, and now they collect eggs from the hens in the hen house, raise rabbits (to eat), and have their own olive oil.

We tried to take a dip in the pool, despite the cloudy weather. The water was quite cold, so we didn’t swim for long. After a while, we went to the cinema in nearby Chiusi. Jeremy, another friend and I saw Ritratto d’amore (The Proposal) with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. It was a cute, predictable romantic comedy, but I always have a great time going to the movies in Italy. It’s always a mental challenge to see how much I can understand, and both Jeremy and I found that we understood most of the movie. We returned and ate dinner (almost at 11!), which was a yummy lasagne with mozzarella balls and fruit on the side. Everyone was pretty tired, so we all went to bed.

The next morning, we slept in and rose to fresh coffee and cornetti (croissants) and fruit for breakfast. It was a lazy day: we went to mass, which was basically unintelligible for me, especially because it was echo-y in the church. I understood part of the sermon when I tried to focus, but after awhile I zoned out, I have to admit. Some of us walked back up to the house, while the others drove and by the time we got back (25 minute walk almost all uphill) we were ready for some pool time. Luckily, the weather was warm and sunny, so we had fun in the pool and I even did some poolside yoga with their daughter.

Then, lunch. Oh, Italy. We ate freshly toasted bruschette; pici—a type of long pasta similar to umbrichelli, like a very fat spaghetti—with homemade tomato sauce; steak and sausage, also fresh off the grill; salad; fresh melon. It was funny to me when they told us how much weight their kids and niece and other friends had gained after staying in the States, because whenever Americans come to Italy, they gain weight, too! It really must be in the difference of eating habits, because while Americans have huge portions, we’re also not used to eating so much pasta or doing 3 courses for lunch.

The rest of the afternoon was lazy. We read (still working on The Daily Life of the Etruscans and Jeremy is finishing Word Freak, which I also read and is an interesting account of a guy who took time off his job as a Wall Street Journal sports reporter to become a competitive Scrabble player), we played with an odd contraption they had bought that is similar to tetherball—it’s a metal pole weighed down so it doesn’t go flying away, and you use a racket to hit a tennis ball attached to a long string. Eventually, it was time to go. Now, we’re home, so to speak. The weather turned cloudy around 3 or so, and the weather report claims it will rain this week. We’ll see.