I have been so very fortunate in my time here in Alghero to have been given not only an Italian roommate, but a Sardinian one. Silvia is seriously awesome because she knows pretty much everything there is to know about everything and she speaks better English than any of us native speakers do. She is our English grammar guide, our Italian resource, and my personal question master. Example: “Silvia, what is an example of the present perfect?” “Silvia, can we sit in a bar with our computer and do work while we have a cafe’?” “Silvia, how do I say ‘goosebumps’ in Italian?” She is also a truly kind and hospitable person, which we discovered when she took Kellie and me home with her to Serrenti (a small town near Cagliari — see map) this past weekend.
Saturday she was busy planning a huge Italian festa, so two of her best friends from growing up took Kellie and me into Cagliari. We walked around the botanic gardens there (a huge section of the University that I believe is run by the students there), la zona vecchia (the historical center), atop i bastioni, and to the upper-most part of the city which gave us an unbelievable view. They then took us to a small trattoria where we had a true Sardinian eating experience. I began with spaghetti alle vongole (yum), which was then followed by i fritti misti. This turned out to be a plate of various fried seafood and it was truly anything you could imagine. There was calimari and baccala, mangiatutto (tiny fish that you ate in whole), red fish, and shrimp. Most people would have freaked out — I mean it literally encompassed tearing the heads of the fish and pulling the spines out (except for the mangiatutto, which you ate all of). My favorite thing came next, when we were served eel. This too had to be eaten off the skeleton/bone (sort of like barbarians), but it was delicious and I would definitely order it again. Finally, we had a lemon sorbetto, which, contrary to our belief due to an error in translation, did not taste like fish, but erased the taste of it in your mouth at the end of a meal.
The boys then drove us about an hour along the coast on one of the most beautiful drives of my life (ps. don’t tell my Dad, but we were going 160kph aka 100mph). We ended up at Costa Rei, which I later realized is a very popular vacation destination in southern Sardegna. It was absolutely beautiful there and I wish I could put it into words. Even pictures barely do it justice.
Early on in the evening we had to drag ourselves off the beach and head back to Serrenti. The party that Silvia was throwing began at 8:30 and it was certainly a party. In short, we drank espressos at midnight (this was a first for me) and were up until we heard the roosters crowing at 530am. There was every kind of food imaginable: trays and trays of bruschetta, meats & cheeses, focaccia panini, fish salads, pasta salads, cous cous, maglietto (roast pig – a Sardinian specialty and tradition), and finally birthday cake. There were huge barrels of beer and 18 litres of wine (9 white, 9 red), which we managed to finish among 40 people. We had a great time and I am going to start throwing parties like this in the US.
It was an outstanding weekend and one of the most amazing cultural experiences of my life. I am so grateful to Silvia’s family and friends who were so welcoming to us even though we were strangers in their homes.
Pictures will have to follow because I need to steal some from my roommate’s camera.
PS. Nobody spoke English all weekend. I was thinking that I needed a refresher course in Italian and I definitely got it … fortunately, I never managed to make a fool of myself, even if a few things were lost in translation (i.e. fish-flavored sorbetto).