Diane’s cousins met us at the train station in Schio and were unbelievably hospitable. Southern hospitality has nothing on this. They drove our luggage to the hotel, walked us to lunch and some historic sites around town, helped us buy some necessities at the farmacia, then returned to pick us up for dinner.
There is a farmhouse restaurant in nearby Malo that is owned by a family friend. Normally, it is closed on Tuesdays, but the owner, Sonia, and her daughters opened the place just for us. It’s near the top of a high hill that overlooks Malo, Schio, and the surrounding area – a gorgeous view when we arrived just after sunset.
With 10 Italians, only three of which spoke any English, we were treated to a six-course family style meal. The wine flowed like water, language barriers were broken, and the farmhouse atop the hill filled with laughter and conversation.
Eventually, there was nothing more to eat, and we all made our goodbyes. Sonia heard about our love of good, local food, and about Laura’s love of GOATS. Turns out Sonia raises pigs and goats, and wanted to show us.
By this time, it was very dark, about midnight. Sonia slipped on her crocs to enter the pig pen and call them out, trying to entice them with the scraps from our four-hour dinner. No luck. So Sonia insisted that we come in to the pen ourselves. Without any crocs of our own, we walked in with our shoes (which eventually had to be packed in our bags with the rest of our stuff).
We saw goats in the darkness, square eyes glinting eerily, but they were skittish and fled into the bushes. We climbed a steep path toward the pig house and heard an ominously loud rustling and snorting just before a huge disgruntled pig charged out of the house. Sonia yelled, “Andiamo!” And we fled like skittish goats before the groggy pig.
Before we drove back to our hotel, we saw the pigs enjoying their midnight snack, but we never got a good look at those goats. Unfortunately, we took a little of the pig pen with us.
And that’s how we ended up using our bidet to clean pig poo of our shoes at 1:00 a.m.
The dinner menu was as follows:
-Prosciutto Crudo with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
-Spaghetti with a light Bolognese Sauce
-Tagliatelli with Basil Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes
-Buffet of prosciutto, salami, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, shredded carrots, olives, turnips, cheese, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, and more
-Roast Pork Tenderloin (raised by Sonia) with some sort of magical carrot sauce made with pan drippings
-Apple Streudel (because Northern Italy is very close to Austria) and Italian Bread Pudding
Drinks, in order:
-Aperitif of Prosecco and Campari
-Prosecco, Red Wine, White Wine
-Fragolino Vino (Strawberry Wine)
-Caffe with Grappa or Plum Licquor
-Limoncello (made by Sonia and so good) and Licorice Licquor