Troopers that we are, we woke up, had coffee and cookies, and drove to Commachio with Daniele’s cousin. Comacchio is a little (20,000 people) town near the seaside (Adriatic, to the east) where Daniele’s cousin’s girlfriend lives with her family. It’s a cute touristy place and has canals running through it, like a tiny Venice, except it’s never been an empire of its own, and is mostly only famous for pickled eel in tin cans.
In Comacchio we saw a few bridges over the tiny canals and a small church. Our plans for a day at the seaside seemed in peril when dark clouds began to form, and while we had pre-lunch appertivos on a platform in the canal, tiny raindrops began to hit the water.
We had lunch in a beautiful apartment above this canal with Daniele’s cousin’s girlfriend’s family. Relaxing vegetarianism, we agreed to a fishy lunch, in the hopes that we would try this pickled eel of tin can fame (anguilla marinata tradizionale). When the time came, we sat down to cold beer, wine, and pickled fishes. The pickled eel had an intense flavor, slimy skin, and a large spine. After we (and Daniele, and Daniele’s cousin) committed some faux pas involving which plate on which to eat the eel, we had a swirly pasta with tuna ragu, (which is to say, marinara sauce with tuna) and little pieces of dry, peculiarly-shaped bread characteristic of the region.
Stuffed, I sat back, and enjoyed the last of my cold white wine.
Little did I know, that lunch was only beginning.
As soon as most of us had finished our pasta, the roast salmon and white fish came out of the oven, and the young brother of Daniele’s cousin’s girlfriend began to cut us enormous steaks of salmon. I stopped him, but not in time to avoid facing a disastrously large portion of fish.
Following the fish was a salad course, followed by a fruit course, and by the time we left for the beach (the sun having come back out), I was ready for many hours of napping in the sun.
And so we did.
Strom learned some French while Daniele and I napped. We swam out to some rocks in the salty Adriatic, encountered crabs, jumping fish, barnacles, and other sharp things.
As soon as we returned to Cento, Daniele’s mom was hosting her second birthday party of the week, and despite our very long day as well as our continued infinite fullness from lunch, the party was lovely. There was a lot of family and food, incuding a nun, cheeses, melon rice, wine, home-made panna cotta, gelato, and best of all, the charming (and english speaking!) german girlfriend of Daniele’s other cousin.
And since no night is ever over in Italy, we went out for beer and digestivos with the youth of Cento, and spoke with them in broken Itali-Ingles about higher education, the importance of preserving history, and the stars. We met a man named Cuco, said our goodbyes to Cento and went to sleep.