We had a most beautiful day at the beach the next day, and my cousins Franco and Sergio came with their wives, and my aunts, for another visit.
They brought a frittata of zucchini; a pizza rustica, which is not a pizza like we know it, but a pie filled with meat and cheese and eggs, with a crust on top; a delicious rice salad; and a wonderful crostata with apricot marmalade and lattice criss-crossing the top. One aunt makes the desserts, the other makes the meals. Works well for everyone, especially since they live in the same small apartment building, one above the other.
The kids played some soccer on the beach with my cousins, and then they cornered Cinzia into playing Scopa with them.
All 4 of us got hooked on the game once we'd learned the rules, and played it a lot at the apartment during the “black hole of death” when the shops were closed for lunch and “siesta”.
It was also my cousin Sergio’s birthday, and we celebrated with a delicious cake from Carmine’s Pasticceria.
It was absolutely fantastic, the top third was a panna cotta, then a layer of chocolate mousse, and finally some cake! That's caramelized sugar all over the outside, and a really cool decoration made of colored sugar.
On a side tangent--pictures of two other delicious desserts.
Our time there came to an end all too quickly for us. We started cleaning and packing on Monday, then Tuesday my cousin Franco came to get the 4 of us and bring us back to Cassino for the day. We had some shopping we wanted to do before we left, and Cassino is much larger than Gaeta or Formia. Marina helped us find jewelry (for me and Emily), and gifts for family, cool-looking Puma sneakers for Eddie, and a watch for Thomas. We got some gifts for my cousins, as well--a little something to remember us by, from our night out at the bar.
Wednesday was our last day and we went back to the open market in Serapo and took some video of it to show friends back home. We had our last pastries, last cornetti con panna. We finished packing up everything except our travel clothes for Thursday. Last but not least, my cousin Fabio and his wife came to visit and say good-bye.
A last look out from the balconies, down onto the courtyard below us--that's a huge lemon tree.
To the left, you can see how the apartments are set up, some with courtyards and some without.
Thursday was a day of travel! We left the apt at 7am, with a van and driver, for a 3 hr drive to the airport--traffic was terrible in and around Rome. We checked in and waited for our flight, which didn't leave till about 1:40pm, but we had to be there at least 2 1/2 hrs before departure. At least we had time to eat while we were there!
The flight arrived in Detroit at 6pm (midnight Italy time), and it was a huge mess getting through customs, picking up our suitcases to re-check them through security for the second flight, and then waiting for that flight, which left around 9:30pm. Eddie managed to grab a draft beer at a pub in the airport. :)
We arrived in Richmond at 11pm (5am our time, ugh) and got to our car after midnight. I had lost our parking ticket a few days before we left (cleaning out all the receipts I had accumulated, oops) and so we had to show our itinerary as proof of how long we'd been parked there, but it was not a big deal like I'd feared it might be. Eddie drove us back to Charlottesville, we dropped off my parents at their house, and we finally got home around 2am.
We were so glad to be back home and in our own beds! We had a really great trip, and I especially loved that Eddie and the kids got to know my family from across the ocean, and vice versa. Being there for a month made a big difference in what we could experience. If we'd just gone to see some sights, it wouldn't have been the same. Franco and Marina have promised to come visit, for the first time ever, next year. We're going to hold them to it! [Update—they still haven’t come, two years later!]