The Day Before the Wedding 4th June 2009

Posted on June 10, 2009 by sonjabarrie

Today we get to wander around the town of Foggia and meet with Gianni and Claire and have lunch somewhere. Breakfast in the hotel ends at 9am and there is no way Tim or I are going to make that! We didn’t get to bed till around 2am again so we surface around 11am and find a cafe and have a cup of tea for me and coffee for Tim. He is having serious Starbucks withdrawal symptoms. When you ask for coffee in Italy they bring you a cup the size your kids play with in a dolls house and it is HALF filled with coffee. One swallow and it’s gone, you don’t ever feel like you’ve had a nice long satisfying cup of coffee.

Tea is no better, they drink it black, in another small cup. Oh the joys of traveling. I feel I am a pretty seasoned traveler, been to most countries in the world and most of them a number of times, after all I’ve been traveling for over 30 years for business and pleasure. But this trip takes the cake, I guess I should feel good that I have never had so many things either bug me or go wrong, but did they all have to happen now, on this trip?

Anyway, enough sulking, while we were having our coffee Claire Y came and found us and then Gianni and Claire sent a text to say they were at the hotel and waiting for us. We duly go off to get the car from the hotel parking garage which is a block away from the hotel (more on that later) and we follow Gianni’s car to go get lunch.

On the way he waves us down and he points out these fields that are owned by his family, they have Olive trees, wheat and who knows what else. Apparently at one time they were all one big farm but as each successive generation dies it’s parceled up and split between their descendants. Gianni tells us it is his dream to come back to Foggia, buy up all the pieces and get it back into a really big working farm again. Claire is not so sure!

Lunch is at a really nice restaurant that used to be another farm, and as with dinner it is huge. Gianni orders plate after plate and we have to tell him that lunch for us is a small affair, the starter, first plate and fruit is plenty and then they share some ice cream. I think he’s a bit miffed and cancels the pasta dish and then cancels another but there are two plates of meat and cheese, then a plate of fish, then fruit, with loads of bread and olives and stuff. I usually have a slice of Gluten free bread for breakfast and probably the same for lunch. Tim is the same, we just don’t eat that much.

At last some serious play time.

Who are you then and how come we got the same hair? Actually there’s no relation, Claire Y and our Claire spent their college and university days as best friends and after 10 years are still really close.

The Italians are by and large very skinny people, where do they put it all? I guess one reason is the food isn’t very fattening, prosciutto with mozzarella and olive oil, pasta with tomatoes and olive oil, pizza with a VERY thin crust, tomatoes and mushrooms with olive oil. Salad with olive oil and vinegar, no other dressings are ever available. They never put butter on their bread, and they never eat white bread, it may not be whole wheat but you can tell it’s not American bleached to taste like cardboard type bread, it’s a very wholesome bread.

Some grandfather grandson bonding time

Gianni, Claire Y and Claire all wondering what grandpa is doing with the baby

And they drink wine with every meal except maybe breakfast and I’m not even sure they don’t drink it then! The same with the French. It goes back to the days when water was scarce and usually pretty rank. Wine was a safe thing to drink and the alcohol in it helped purify the water they usually added to it at every meal.

Now the water is fine to drink but the wine habit has stayed, not surprising really. It was a lovely lunch as we finally got to talk to Gianni and Claire and play with Leo. He told us that we would be meeting up that evening with a bunch of people that had come for the wedding. Claire would stay home and hopefuly get some sleep and Gianni would play host.

The church where Gianni and Claire will get married tomorrow

Later that evening we went for a walk to see what Foggia looked like and to eat before meeting everyone for drinks. The old part of Foggia was really nice though in serious need of a face lift. It is falling apart, apparently Gianni told us later that Foggia is a very poor town and there is no money to fix stuff. He also told us that during the war the British bombed Foggia a lot. The main railroad line that runs north south and the east west line all converge here in Foggia and as Italy sided with Germany, in 1944 when the British were trying to end the war, and were coming up from the south and the Russians were coming down from the north, Foggia was a big target because of the railroad.

Unfortunately they missed the station, A LOT, and most of the old center got flattened. They got the station eventually but not until a lot of damage was done. Then when they rebuilt they put up 1960’s apartment blocks and they really jar with what’s left. As Gianni says, Foggia was no Florence but it was better than it is now.

It would be very pretty if they could refurbish the buildings

Here’s a few pictures of Foggia and the strange phenomenon that appears to be Italy wide. The appearance of all it’s citizens at around 7pm. Until then most towns seem to be ghost towns, you’ll see people out shopping early in the morning and then it’s siesta time. Everything is boarded up and barred until about 7pm.

Young and old alike congregate in the town piazza

So here’s what they do after 7pm, they sit in the town center, they wander the streets dressed to the nines, the talk and generally socialize. It doesn’t happen in the northern countries and certainly not in the US but I’ve seen it in Spain, Portugal and I bet it happens in Mexico too.

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