A Visit to Veneto

Receiving holy communion for the first time is an important rite in the Catholic Church and usually takes place when a child is about 7 to 10 years old. Considered as a milestone, it is an important day in Italy, and is celebrated by family and friends. I am lucky to be included in Loris’ family celebrations and was duly invited to the First Communion of his nephew Nicola’s daughter Edel.

Nicola and his family live in Veneto in a small village close to Belluno at the base of the Dolomites, a very long drive from Rome. We drove north past Florence and then went east towards Venice after we reached Bologna. As we drove north from Venice, we passed through acres of vineyards, prosecco country, and further north, the Dolomites came into view. They are spectacular and with the cool spring we’ve had, there was still quite a lot of snow on the mountains. We spent the night in an Agroturismo Albergo (Albergo Coe) with a wonderful view. I looked out of my window in the morning to see Lake Santa Croce in the background, lush forests, and just below the Albergo a little cottage with a farmer feeding his sheep.

The church where Mass was being celebrated was in another small village. Everybody gathered outside while the children receiving their First Communion formed a little procession with the priest behind them, so that they could walk up the street and into the church in a ceremonius way.

Immediately after Mass, there was a surge to the bar which happens to be right next door and plenty of toasts were raised with prosecco of course! Then we all trooped off to another village close by for lunch, a gargantuan feast consisting of six courses. We started with an antipasto of hot and cold baccalao (salt cod), a pastry roll filled with asparagus tips and sauce, pasta with ragout, and two lamb dishes with vegetables on the side. Following this, there were two different types of cakes as it also happened to be Edel’s grandmother’s birthday. I could barely rise from the table after all this!

Everybody retired to Nicola and Eleonora’s house for further socializing. I managed to fit in a walk not only to get some exercise after the lunch, but also to get a sense of the surrounding countyside. It was truly gorgeous
walking up the hill toward the snow capped mountains with spring flowers still in bloom.

I wished I had another day to walk in the mountains and enjoy the scenery but we had to leave very early the next morning to return to Rome. Thank you to Nicola and Eleonora for a wonderful weekend and to Roberto for a lot of driving.

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