One, Big, Happy Family

Thursday was such an incredible day. It began with a tour of Leopardi’s home…

…followed by lunch at a tiny place near the bus. A small group of us were there for the entire lunch break. The food was nothing special, just sandwiches and water. What was wonderful, however, were the people and the games we played. First, a group of what we would consider middle-schooler’s (they couldn’t have been older than 15) were trying too hard to be cool, talking to us about how “cute” it was to be American and how they were learning English in school. All of a sudden they ran away from their table, knocking over a few chairs. The server started yelling at them, and the left. Apparently, they were skipping school to hang out there. Later, the police were there. It was a whole little fiasco. A group of girls around our age joined us at one point. They spoke Spanish with Stephanie and Katie while the rest of us sat there, understanding bits and pieces of the conversation. As we started playing mental games (such as “Black Magic,” “Camping Trip,” etc.) they left.

After a quick stop at a Basilica…

…we went grocery shopping and started cooking dinner. I helped Stephanie make spaghetti with a meat sauce (see recipe below) and helped everyone else prep their meals.

As we were shopping, it felt like we were on an episode of top chef (or another competition cooking show). We were told our time, had an idea of the ingredients needed, and we went.

You have 40 minutes to shop, a few hours to cook…Go.

Pasta with Meat Sauce


2 sticks of butter (or ¾ of a thing of butter here)

A can of tomato paste (or a nice sized tube of it)

A couple cloves of garlic, minced

Half a yellow onion, chopped finely

Italian Seasoning (Basil, Oregano, etc.—we had a blend)

1 Kg (apx. 2lb) of ground meat (turkey or beef—we used beef)



Olive Oil



Melt butter and then throw in the garlic, onion, seasonings, and tomato paste; let it simmer.

Throw the uncooked meat into the sauce; let it simmer and cook.

Add some salt, pepper, and extra garlic as needed. (We ended up needing around 3 cloves of fresh garlic, a dash of salt and pepper, and a little water)

Because the tomatoes were so good, we decided to toss in a handful of those as well.

As it is simmering, boil a pot of water with olive oil and salt.

When boiling, cook pasta.


Mix pasta and sauce.


It’s simple, easy, and very yummy.




Over the course of the night, nearly everyone came into our room to cook, eat, and be merry. Most brought food and drinks and stayed for a while. The others came for the dessert. As expected, the food was delicious. It ranged from our spaghetti to gnocchi, from a couple risottos to garlic bread, from salad to donuts. We also had wines up to wazoo: red, white, sparkling red, sparkling white. We ate; we laughed; we were one, big, happy Italian family.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. mom says:

    Awesome pictures!

  2. Vivian says:

    I remember the tour of Giacomo Leopardi’s home. I liked hearing about his life and seeing the endless array of books he had, which were very impressive. And the people we met at lunch were interesting as well, I guess it’s not surprising that teens in Italy try to “act cool” as you say, just like back in the states. When Rebecca and me went to the restroom, we found them hanging around the park (they still hadn’t gone to school). The pictures you put up of the spray painted street art look really amazing! I didn’t get to see it, but I would’ve liked to. The cooking afterwards was fun, especially the shopping cart. It made it seem like we were professionals, like on Top Chef or something along those lines. Afterwards, the dishes turned out really well, and all look so delicious! Each one looked like they had been specially prepared in a restaurant! It was a great trip!

    1. eabush says:

      It’s chalk art! They were by the fountain in the square outside the basilica. :)

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