Monday, May 09, 2011

Home Again

Yesterday we went back to Ascoli Piceno.  We didn't plan to, but we were sort of in the neighborhood. 

We got up very early and went to Abruzzo for a tourism trade show that ended up being smaller than anticipated.  It was a long drive for a bust, but we were only an hour from our former home.  It was nearing lunch time.  We debated a bit; there is a Japanese restaurant in Pescara- and there is precious little opportunity to eat ethnic food in Italy, especially southern Italy.  It was very tempting.  Then we talked about whether we should revisit Ascoli on a whim, if we'd feel emotional or wistful afterwards.  In the end we decided we were only an hour away, we'd go and have lunch and see if we could find some friends.


It was a gorgeous day.  The sun warmed the travertine of the piazza and buildings, and everything had that honey glow that we love so much.  We strolled the narrow alleyways to a restaurant we used to frequent and were embraced by the enthusiastic owner.  He remembered our preferred plates and prepared them just as we like them.  He sat down at our table for a chat. 

We found our friend Gianluca who was exuberantly surprised to see us.  We had a caffe' together, caught up on news and happenings, laughed like always.  When we parted he teared up a bit, sorry to see us go away so soon.

We walked the familiar streets, smiling at the kids playing in the piazzas, meandered past our former apartments, looked around to see what had changed.  We were happy to see that some new shops had opened, and were shocked to see that the stalwart and elegant Caffe' Meletti had closed.  We had gelato from our favorite gelateria and drank from the fountain.  Just like always. 


Ascoli Piceno is as beautiful as ever.  We remembered why we loved it; the atmosphere and architecture, the spots we frequented...it all reconfirmed that Ascoli is a very special place.  We remembered special moments, special friends as we strolled around.

While teaching English I've had to explain to my students the meaning of the word "home".  In Italian "casa" means both "house" and "home," and they're always confused by the difference.  I tell them that home is more than a dwelling.  It has an emotional context; it's the place where you are secure, happy, embraced. 

Yesterday I went back to Ascoli Piceno, a city I love.  And then I came home.

8 comments:

Evey said...

could feel how much that day meant to you, the golden sunshine and all...

maryhitt said...

Sorry to hear that Caffe Meletti is still closed. It was closed when my girlfriend and I were in Abruzzo in February, but I hoped it was just a seasonal thing. My husband and I always seem to spend some time in Ascoli Piceno when we are vacationing in San Benedetto del Tronto, and always had a coffee at Caffe Meletti. Glad that you were able to connect with friends while you were back

Mamma Jo said...

Caffe Melletti is no more??! How very sad!
I'll always remember the hot chocolate and the big bowl of whipped crea to top it...
Beyond yummy..

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

Glad to know you do have a real Italian "home" now, even if there is no word for "home" in Italian.

maryhitt said...

Sorry to hear that Caffe Meletti is closed. When I was there in February with my girlfriend, it was closed, but we just assumed it was a break for the winter. I always enjoyed going there when we were in Ascoli Piceno.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

It is lovely to be able to return to a former place you love and find it still so welcoming.

marybeth said...

I was sad to hear about Caffe Meletti being closed. It's hard to believe,as it seemed to be an important part of the city scene. I remember meeting you there for an aperitivo. Oddly enough, I discovered I can buy their products, like Anisette at a local liquor store back in Kansas!

Valerie said...

I know - it was a real shock to see Meletti shuttered. Very sad.

Miss Footloose - Thanks, me too! ;)

LindyLou - so true!

Marybeth - I remember our aperitivo fondly. I'm amazed that you can buy Meletti anisetta in KS! I never saw it in stores, even in Little Italy.