This was to be the first Easter that I spent without my family.
Every year, since I enrolled at John Cabot University, my mom, my sister, and my grandma would come to Rome and we would take a two week trip around different parts of Europe. I have never been one to receive Easter with much excitement, either religiously or culturally; I only looked forward to it because it meant that I would see my family and we would get to be together in some unknown place. This year, however, I got a phone call from my mom saying that they were not going to be able to come to Europe this year, and instead would go to San Francisco for a week. I was obsessing about the fact that all my friends here were going to be out of town and that I would probably have to spend the holidays alone when Ale, one of my Italian friends, invited me and two other friends to go up to his country house in Campoleone to celebrate Pasquetta, that is, Easter Monday. I was not very excited at first, b
ut he insisted so much on my going that I could not refuse. And so it was that Nick, the archeology major, Andres, the fashion designer, and I headed out on Monday morning to Termini Station, where a train would take us from the noisy streets and dirty cobblestones of Rome to the vast greenness of the countryside. I was shocked to see how much the scenery changed during a twenty minute train ride; the worn brick walls and the millenary ruins desecrated by some colorful and some artless graffiti quickly gave way to bright green fields covered by yellow and white chamomiles that resembled daisies.
After we arrived at Campoleone we headed towards the house. Perched atop a small hill, with its faded yellow walls and Roman tiles, the villa was surrounded by nothing but Mediterranean pines. An escort of olive trees led us to the main entrance, where my friend was waiting for us. He showed us an early 17th century fountain that had been incredibly well preserved, and then took us to a small passageway that led to a Wisteria-covered pergola, where the table was set. My two other friends and I could not believe our eyes; as if the whole experience was not Italian enough, our friend informed us that we were having pizza for lunch, and not only that, but we were going to make the pizza. He showed us to the pizza oven where the wood was burning, in front of which there was a table with flour and all the ingredients that we would need. I was familiar with the process of making pizza because in many restaurants in Rome you can see the oven, but I had never made one myself, and the experience was amazingly refreshing; the soft feel of flour against my hands, the intense red of the tomato sauce, the juicy mozzarella and cold mushrooms, the tasty salsiccia, and the smell of onion and garlic and off to the smoldering oven! Some minutes after, the smell of freshly baked bread signaled us to take the pizzas out of the oven; our stomachs were as impatient as our hands. We headed towards the table, where we devoured our crunchy pizzas and drank delicious red wine under a purple sky. We even had a perfectly creamy tiramisu that Ale had made that morning for dessert. Then, over coffee, we talked about everything and nothing at the same time; as they say in Italian, we enjoyed the dolce far niente. Surely, cooking pizza is a wonderful experience, yet it would not have been half as enjoyable without Ale’s funny remarks, Nick’s fascinating historical facts, or Andres’s passionate talks about fashion. With nothing but the Roman campagna and some incredible friends to keep me company, I had the best Easter anyone could ever wish for.