As you drive through italy on the winding roads, up and down the hills, you often see little stone houses, groups of houses, land stretching between them and they look almost abandoned.
I’m sure they sometimes are, but sometimes, like this Wednesday, you get to see what’s really happening in at least one of them.
This house looks like a shed, maybe a storage spot for god knows what. It looks sort of sad, a bit neglected but for the smoke wafting up from the grill outside the door.
We took a ride with F. who needed to take measurements for the new windows someone wanted. We got out of the car and were greeted by a large german shepherd puppy who promptly dropped a rock at my feet. F. went inside, V. followed, and I stayed outside to play “fetch rocks” with the dog.
“Vieni, vieni, “ they called to me.
By the time I walked the ten meters through the mud, V. and F. each had a pork laden bread hunk in one hand and a plastic cup full of vino nuvelo in the other, just like each of the six or seven other men in the room.
The walls were re-done as they do here, white plaster framing original rocks, the floors were bare cement, not yet criss-crossed with tubes for water, gas and electricity before getting covered with wood or stone. And there were pig parts everywhere.
Every Wednesday in December, in between the restoration inside the house on this farm, this not-quite-legal happening happens.
Five or six men get together to butcher the four or five pigs that were killed and hung up on Monday. As they work, they eat barbecued pig parts and drink wine and ocassionally go outside to kick a rock for the dog.
The unassuming house goes back several hundred feet and down a level or two. There’s a smoking room, where for three months, the lonza, ciausculo and other sausages hang the old-fashioned way in contrast to the sped-up, artificial, one week process that’s sometimes done.
|ciausculo, salsiccia, maybe some fegato & a prosciutto|
To one side is a shed with some hogs that peer out, squealing occasionally.
Up past them there are chickens, then pigs in pens separated by “quality” I was told and a barn with white curly-foreheaded marchigiano cows and a couple of assini.
Geese roam all around.
None of this is imaginable from the road or from the dirt driveway that winds past this house and up to the main house, but it’s all right there. Like a lot of things in Italy, you just have to know the right people to get you under the veneer to what’s really there.