Tuesday, 24 March 2009

An Italian weekend

We had an Italian weekend. Half of my heritage is Italian, so it seems only fitting to make a weekend of it; after all, life's too short to not be Italian. ;-)

On Saturday night, we went for dinner at a new Italian restaurant in Courtenay Place. Fratelli is run by two family friends who, fittingly enough, are brothers. Their mother and grandmothers are fantastic cooks; we have spent many years popping in on Christmas morning to enjoy strong coffee and Italian dolce before heading off to Christmas dinner, so it's not surprising that good food is in their blood.

The meal was great, with good sized portions and yummy bread straight from their wood-fired oven. The wine list is extensive, with a wide range of both Italian and New Zealand wines. (Even though I'm a non-drinker, I really like looking through wine lists or, even better, cocktail lists.) They have done a great job with the decor, which is modern yet cosy and would be equally comfortable for couples or mid-sized groups. I hope Fratelli does well; they are in the ultimate restaurant zone in Wellington, yet it is notorious for chewing up and spitting out newcomers.

I had won tickets to a show at Downstage Theatre. Strange Resting Places was inspired by stories and personal experiences of the Maori Batallion in Italy during World War II. It has had fantastic reviews and has been performed at a number of festivals and events around the world; they are heading off overseas again this week. Coming from worlds apart, Maori and Italians found themselves connected by three fundamental elemtents: kai, waiata and whanau (food, song, and family).

What I loved about the show is how well the two cultures blended. It was amazing to be able to identify with two opposing forces, and I was thrilled at how much Italian and Maori I could understand. Walking into the theatre, two of the cast were playing guitars and singing medlies of Italian and Maori music, interchanging the languages with ease. Meanwhile, the third (Italian) character was busy serving food and making coffee with a caffetiera at the front of the stage for the audience as they were taking their seats. The scene was set. Fittingly, at the end of the show, the audience were offered vino and bread dipped in olive oil with rosemary and garlic; Italian hospitality never stops.

On Sunday, Festa Italia was held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. This annual event is a celebration of all things Italian: food, fashion, travel, entertainment, and more food. My parents were, once again, heavily involved with the festival's organisation. They enticed us out of bed early on a Sunday morning with the promise that my sweetie could transport a Ferrari or Lamborghini from a sponsor's car yard to the festa. Alas, while two of the cars were red (and all were Italian), there was not a Ferrari or Lamborghini in sight; we didn't think there would be, but it was fun to dream for a while.

We spent a couple of hours during the day working on the bar, pouring numerous glasses of chianti and being thankful that this isn't our day job; it's fun to work on a bar for a couple of hours a year, but it would drive me mad to do it full time. After our second shift finished, we wandered around to see some of the entertainment while waiting to return the cars at the end of the day. How great it was to see the cast from last night's show, Strange Resting Places, on stage with a short 'surprise' performance! Then it was off home to count the money and fall into bed after a long day, the result of many months' planning. What a weekend.

Qui tutto bene!


Elizabeth said...

That sounds like a great movie! I wish there was some way to see it in the US.

Donna said...

sounds like a wonderful weekend!!