01 October 2005

This is not a vacation...

Did I mention I had a busy week? I cut out of the grape harvesting early on Monday, to help make dinner in the Villa kitchen, as one of the cooks was out ill for the day. After 2 1/2 hours of prep work and embarassingly little Italian comprehension (it really does depend on who you are talking with!) with the other Italian cook, I sped to Pulcinelli to compete for a shower, then raced over to the Villa's library with the other female interns for our first art class. There is a resident artist here at Spannocchia, Pascale, who spends some of the year here, being creative, and some of the year in England with her MP husband. They are both dear people.

I believe Pascale is French-Canadian; she is surely 5 months pregnant. She radiates positive energy, and charmed us all with her hypnotic voice and poetic turns of phrase. She mused philosophical on the art-making process for us, discussing the habits of the different hemispheres of our brains and how art is often a struggle between what you see and what you know. "The mental process in creating art can cause some discomfort, as it is halfway between seeing and knowing," she murmured, occasionally sprinkling some Italian phrases into her French-accented lecture. After being lulled into a relaxed state, we armed ourselves with pencils and drew and drew and drew. For 2 hours we sketched each other, working mainly with continuous line drawing. "Abandon yourself to the line," Pascale instructed. The soundtrack to Amelie played in the background.

Almost energized by the experience, Kate and I bolted to the main dining room of the Villa, to prepare for the dinner service. There are a series of rotating weekly duties for the interns, and dinner is one of them (others include lunch duty, cleaning Pulcinelli, weekly presentations, etc). Dinner duty entails setting the table for however many folks have reserved for the evening (this week we averaged 50 a night, or more, the highest numbers since we've been here), serving each course, keeping water and wine bottles stocked on the tables, cleaning up, and answering odd and annoying questions from guests who often didn't listen the first time, or else hadn't looked around (sorry, but it's true! what about "family-style" don't they understand? sad that "family-style" has become such a relic...?). The blue-ribbon question of the week: " Can we serve the salad course first tomorrow evening, cause I didn't have any room left on my plate, or in my belly." Or something ridiculous like that. Dinner this week passed in a flurry of setting up, serving up, and attempting to shut up (and smile) when questions like that came rolling along. Handing out bottles of wine like candy from a parade float seemed to divert questions and made guests forget that, no, I don't have an extra set of arms to accomodate their passing/fetching needs. I'm really looking forward to just eating next week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin :)

Definitely envious of your time in Italy. Any possibility of switching with you for acouple days? You can take my place in the Marines in Camp Lejeune, NC while I get to live a little in Italy. Well, I figured I had to ask :). I enjoyed the photos and continuing to read about your travels. Stay safe, keep out of trouble, keep smiling, and most importantly keep us posted!

Dave ;)

5:08 PM  

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