Marcello's Big, Fat Italian Christening | ©Tom Palladio ImagesRecently, 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.

Marcello's Big, Fat Italian Christening | ©Tom Palladio ImagesLike 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).

Marcello's Big, Fat Italian Christening | ©Tom Palladio ImagesWe 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.

Marcello's Big, Fat Italian Christening | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThere 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).

Marcello's Big, Fat Italian Christening | ©Tom Palladio ImagesBellies 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

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

28 comments

      1. 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. 🙂

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