Italy Travel Notes presents: leon lumsden
I recently celebrated my 21st birthday in Italy. I have to be honest and admit that I was sceptical about it; for several reasons. My parents and my grandmother both made the trip across the sea to visit me and my friends that I have met here, in Rome, joined my boyfriend and I for the celebrations.
Had I been at home in the rather rainy UK, it would have definitely been a party. I mean capital P.A.R.T.Y. I know for a fact that my family, the length and breadth of the country, would have flocked to Scotland to join us and it would have been great to see everyone, but for reasons I chose not to divulge, (No I’m not in an Italian Prison, I just have “short arms and long pockets” as they say. LOL), we decided to celebrate here.
This of course meant that there would only be 7 people at my party and I wasn’t going to get my usual Victoria sponge iced birthday cake, or would I get the restaurant staff singing happy birthday to me, but I was going to be sharing it with people I loved and cared about very much, (and my mother had bought me gorgeous silk dress), so I was happy.
Now I don’t know about you, but I find birthdays to be emotional and often tearful days anyway. And why is it that something always seems to go wrong on your birthday? But it didn’t! This year, everything went perfectly. If I ignore the fact that, I woke up at 6am because I felt like I was about to over-roast and split in half, (thanks to the wonderful July heat-wave that Italy has been experiencing this year), and that It took me until 12pm to finally get my boyfriend awake, (by now I had walked to the hotel where my family were staying, had breakfast, opened the mountain – yes 21 and everyone I know seemed to go crazy with presents like I was 5. It was amazing and you can’t imagine how grateful I was that everyone, even distant relatives, remembered – walked the dog – who decided to get “the runs” that day thanks to my mum feeding her fettuccine fungi (mushroom pasta) the night before – and walked back to the house with the family in tow.
But he made up for it. He gave me a birthday card, telling me he was taking me on the holiday of a life-time for new year and then drove me and the family to an unnamed swedish furniture store and a huge Italian shopping mall, so that I could spend some of my very unearned new cash.
Shopping, gave me even more of a shock. Never before in my life, have I gone shopping on my birthday, with a pocket full of cash and actually been able to find something to buy, but that day, I found plenty and found myself, becoming long-trousered again and tearing myself away from things; (I had a holiday to save for).
That night however, was the “creme-de-la-creme” of shocks and treats. We chose a beautiful Italian restaurant, set up in the mountain hillside north east of Rome, in a very small town called Stimigliano. With fountains in the patioed garden eating area, just footsteps from your table, light and airy music and the smell of delicious in-door bbq’d foods, fruity wines and sweet smelling deserts passing your nose; how could I not be in my element.
But of course, I underestimated people and how secretive they can be. Upon sitting down at the table, my mum produced a party bag, full of streamers, bubbles, poppers and balloons. Our friends had gotten lost on the way and were running late, but that wasn’t a problem as it gave us, the family, a chance to take some group pictures and blow up the balloons etc.
The food was amazing. The company fantastic. The staff… brilliant and friendly, even though over 90% of the table spoke no or basic Italian. They didn’t speak English of course, but between having one Italian at our table and lots of bad menu reading, poor pronunciation from bad phrase books and hand gestures followed by si, no, no, si, si… we got there in the end. I doubt they would be reading this, but I would like to say a huge Thank You to the staff at the Restaurant.
But then It came. The moment that I had not been waiting for. As I walked away to take pictures of my dad with our friend Colin, in his very smart Scottish Kilt, I was soon called back to the table. “Happy…Auguri… to… te.” The mixture of Happy Birthday with the Italian Tante Auguri was fantastic. The cake looked amazing, covered in huge letter candles spelling out 21, with pink candy striped candles round the outside and “Auguri Ami” written in the center. I was pleasantly surprised. Our friends hadn’t been lost, they were late from picking up my cake.
So there it was. A typically British birthday in the beautiful warm, Italian mountains. And I would do it again. Of course I missed home as I opened cards from friends and relatives that day, but I will seem them later in the year and I will perhaps even have myself a smaller party next time I see them all.
So for anyone thinking about celebrating birthdays in Italy. Go for it! You can everything as you would at home, cakes, singing, candles and friends; but at least you can sit outside until 2am!
Happy Birthday to all the July Babies.
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