I have worked with Filippo for 8 years. His wife Fabi is a legend too. She and I were pregnant at the same time and our daughters swapped due dates. It may be because of this, or because of the fact that Isabella is an absolutely gorgeous girl with a ferocious appetite for life, that my two daughters are completely enchanted with her.
If you haven’t surmised from their names, they are Italian, and happened to be in Italy when we were. Fabi insisted that we attend her parent’s 50th wedding anniversary lunch. I can’t speak Italian. They can’t speak English. There was a lot of nodding, smiling and gesturing - and we bonded for life over our shared love and demolishment of the 7 course lunch, wine, espresso and limoncello, in a glasshouse on a lemon plantation, that had racked up about 300 Michelin awards. I felt like I had stepped into a Jane Austen novel, except I couldn’t understand a word of it.
I also found myself in the drive way of Filippo’s family home, drinking espresso in his kitchen and lounge room, taking in the view over the olive grove playground of his childhood, and embarking on a long walk at dusk through the Tuscan countryside, with Fabiola and Filippo. It was so romantic, especially where we kept jumping off the road to avoid the cars tearing along the winding roads at 150km/h.
Filippo relived his youth; eyes glazing over as he remembered the time they were holidaying on the other side of the country, and were ‘running late’ to an event up the mountain. Rather than do the necessary three points turns on all the 180 degree corners, he took them at 100km/hr and did handbrakeys. It was one of their first dates and Fabiola claims she wasn’t impressed, holding on for dear life. Yet, 20+ years later, they are very happily married, so…… Maybe she was.
Apparently, the speeds that you can clock up up on those (essentially) winding footpaths are unfathomable. “You can go… really, really fast at night time, you can see if another car is coming because of their headlights.” That instilled a lot of confidence in me, as we walked along in the dark, without headlights to alert the oncoming Italian mafia to our presence. We stopped in at his aunt and uncles house for a drink. Cue more nodding, smiling and gesturing. Eventually his parents called. They weren’t trying to relive his youth, they needed us to come and rescue them from the combined energy of our three children who were pushing the upper echelon of their sanity. When those three get together; 1 + 1 + 1 = 300. The photos begin to tell the story.
Then one of the most quintessential Italian experiences unfolded before my very eyes. Filippo’s mother packed a hamper to take with us on the train back to Firenze. BUT WAIT. It gets 400 times better. His father proceeds to take us to kitchen in the back house, and slice us some fresh prosciutto for the bread. Dear Tuscan Gods. My love for prosciutto. I can’t put into words. The Bunnings hat hanging on the mantle helped to bring me back to reality.
Filippo took us to the train. The same train that he used to catch when he wagged school. If only those platforms could talk. And I knew Italian. He wasn’t acting like such a badass on this particular occasion.
But the teenage girls on the train, and in the train station at the other end were. Matisse expressed grave concern; “why are those little girls smoking?” And was particularly intrigued in their fashions “Do they want to wear those things or did their mum tell them to?” HA HA HA. What an absurd thing to suggest….. I don’t put Matisse in fishnets by the way. In fact, it’s me encouraging the less trashy outfits being paraded to school. Either way, the security guards were clambering to provide them with a light when they needed one.
Back to the point. These guys are the best, and we had a wonderful time. And some of these photos are out of focus because… Tuscan Rosso, manic kids, manual focus lens… and the Italian dreaminess….