Recently, I returned to the rarified air of Castelluccio di Norcia — where Italy’s Apennines touch the clouds inside Umbria’s Monti Sibillini National Park — to help celebrate a milestone in the life of the newest member of my small, extended family: the christening of my grandson, Baby Marcello.
Nearly 40 family members and friends, from Rome, Lombardy, Umbria and the Veneto, where I live, joined Allison and Maurizio (the parents) and Claudia and Fabrizio (the godparents) inside Santa Maria Assunta, Castelluccio’s 16th century stone church, to witness Baby Marcello receive the Sacrament of Baptism, the first of seven sacraments he can possibly receive during his lifetime, as he was officially welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church.
Like Christmas, Easter, birthdays, weddings and other landmark dates and special occasions during the year, it’s not a real christening here in the Bel Paese until all invited guests take their place around la tavola, touch glasses, break bread and work the daylights out of the knife, fork and spoon.
Baby Marcello may have slept through the church ceremony and barely opened an eye during the feast in his honor, but the rest of us were wide eyed and eager to savor the bounty of all the dishes prepared by Chef Mariella at Locanda de’ Senari, Castelluccio’s signature agriturismo restaurant that specializes in organic, homemade Umbrian fare, and where everything placed on the table is consumed (read, devoured).
We began the pranzo with Antipastone della Locanda — large plates of cold cuts, salamis, cheeses, roveja con pancetta (wild peas in bacon) and bruschette.
Deep breaths taken all around, we then savored two mouthwatering pasta dishes, followed by an open-hearth, mixed-grill — beef, lamb and pork — accompanied by side dishes of the area’s world-renowned lentils, roasted potatoes and fresh baby greens in a balsamic vinaigrette.
There was a to-die-for, cream-filled cake, colorfully decorated with a large AUGURI (best wishes) for Bambino Marcello, complimented by bottles of sparkling spumante.
Throughout the banquet, carafes of superlative regional red and white wines flowed freely, and much-needed espresso coffee, in single and double shots, came to the rescue at the end of the feast, along with a tris (three) of after-dinner herbal digestivi (digestifs).
Bellies bursting at the seams, we made our way towards the front door and the fading late-afternoon sun, stopping long enough to compliment the chef for a job deliciously done, accept the bomboniera (gift favor) offered by the proud parents, and kiss Baby Marcello on the cheek.
Thankfully, the next installment of My Big Fat Italian Christmas is months away; plenty of time for me to get back down to my “playing weight” before I tie another one on with knife, fork and spoon.
©The Palladian Traveler
Wonderful celebrate and wonderful food to fete the occasion.
Thanks for the feedback, Sally. Always appreciated.
Lovely to read about how Christenings are celebrated in Italy. Brilliant photos too, as usual. Vicina
Thanks so much.
Congratulations on a new grandson. What a festive occasion.
Thanks, Pat. Everything good in MI or FL?
Right now I have Michigan under control – enjoying the farmer’s markets and orchards. Waiting for the cool, dry air of fall and the leaves changing. We don’t do FL until mid October when the cool gets cold. 🙂
Hey Tom, I’m ready for you to take me on another walk around your neighborhood.
Sounds like a wonderful occasion! Has the Palladian Traveler moved from Palladio’s hometown Vicenza??
TPT is still here in Vicenza.
Delicious!! Thank the Lord for baby Christenings!!
Thanks for the note, Sue.
Looks like a wonderful and delicious time. Congratulations, Grandpa.
What a great place for a christening! I love the photo of the baby at the very beginning of the post, nice!
What a wonderful, delicious feast for a beautiful occasion. Auguri a lei.
Now that’s what I call a feast! Nice read about little Marcello and the festa in his honor!
A wonderful celebration and as I always say Italians know how to eat
Congratulations!! Such a special day celebrated with special food.
Thanks you, Debbie.
The Christening of a baby is a glorious occasion! And it looks like the place, food and wine were glorious as well. Wonderful post Tom!
Thanks, Martin. It was a grand day around la tavola.
I missed a Christening by one day this visit!!!
Congratulations on the newest arrival. May there be many more for you to love and cherish.
Thanks very much, MG!