thank heaven for great (italian) neighbors

I’ve been so lucky to have been blessed with great neighbors.

Growing up, Sylvia, the Italian woman next door with four kids of her own, used to bake me a birthday cake *every* year–fancy ones like with a Barbie standing in the middle and stuff.

Even now, she still finds time to send me cards for my birthday and Christmas despite having many, many grandchildren (I’ve lost count!).

Well my buona fortuna continued when I moved here.

I’ve told you about my neighbor Anna Maria before, but I really can’t express how lucky I am to have moved in near her. She is one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known, always giving me something–literally just about every day it’s something new.

Other than the usuals like olive oil, vino, red wine vinegar, lemons, oranges, clementines, and Brasilena, she also supplies me with some special harbingers of the seasons like:

Berrylicious on Flickr

Berrylicious homegrown strawberries and blackberries!

Just look at these gorgeous fragole:

Fragole on Flickr

And she also brings me this:

The mystery gift on Flickr

Want a closer look?

Close up of the mystery gift on Flickr

Anyone know or care to guess what it is?

(I know some of you know!)

Also, if you have great neighbors you’d like to brag about, do share!

22 Beans of Wisdom to “thank heaven for great (italian) neighbors”
  1. Gil

    I was going to say it is cheese, but after a little thinking I think it is a very gelatinous head cheese. Then again, I could be wrong as I’m not able to see too many red pepper flakes and seeds.

    Yeah it does look like cheese…hmm….

  2. 05.27.2008

    Ooooo you’re lucky! What a difference having lovely neighbours makes in your life. I have a wonderful elderly man from the north of Albania next door. He speaks no English at all but he is always happy to see me and say “Miredita” (Good Day!). I remember last year at this time he invited me to his garden and cut me a lovely bunch of roses- well he did it again last week and it melts my heart!

    Good neighbours bring JOY!

    Kim H’s last blog post..Current Paintings

    Oh how lovely Kim! Hurray for good neighbors!

  3. 05.27.2008

    How lucky you are!! Everything looks delish and homegrown. Is that cheese? And as far as neighbors go, my Mom always taught me….if you don’t have anything nice to say….don’t say anything at all πŸ˜‰

    My MΓ©lange’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday-Destinations

    Hah, excellent advice from your mother πŸ˜‰

    And nope, it’s not cheese of any kind….

  4. 05.27.2008

    Fragoli – had some last night covered in chocolate…yummm!
    That looks like cheese! Like a asiago, parmigiano or maybe it’s Havla?

    Lucia’s last blog post..This Is What You Get When You Drink Too Much

    Nope not cheese, Lucia…you don’t want to eat this, believe me!

  5. 05.27.2008

    I was going to say cheese of some sort, too, but I guess that’s already been covered. No idea then!

    As for neighbors, I sort of feel like I hit the neighbor jackpot, too, as they’re all pretty friendly and decent people. They don’t bring me gifts, though, like yours do!

    Stefanie’s last blog post..Five things I have learned in the past week

    I’ve read about your neighbors, Stefanie, and they do sound perfectly lovely πŸ™‚

    Nope, definitely not cheese…but you might use it before you eat cheese….

  6. 05.27.2008

    I have no idea what that last is, as I was part of the cheese category, too, unless it’s special stone of some kind?

    Sadly, we are not rich in neighbors currently. There are definitely nice people in our neighborhood, but people stay fairly separate. Growing up, though, neighbors were our life’s blood! We had great neighbors in our old neighborhood in A2, too.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..Music Monday – “Born in the USA” – Bruce Springsteen

    Ooh love your Music Monday selection!

    Not a stone either.

    OK I’m going to have to give a clue.

    It’s made with olive oil.

  7. 05.27.2008

    If it’s not cheese then it must some kind of home made soap. Maybe the kind that my neighbor uses on holiday to wash clothes in the hotel? My neighbor is the best but that’s all I can say for now. Maybe I’ve said too much? UGh forget I said anything….

    Jeff’s last blog post..Movin on is tough….

    You got it Jeff! Homemade soap! Definitely *don’t* want to eat it!

    Hmm…I’m molto intrigued by this neighbor chatter….

  8. 05.27.2008

    Hey Michelle – have you moved to the new place? those berries look DELICIOUS. I am so jealous though this year my sister and brother-in-law have a huge garden with lots of veggies and tomatoes!! I can’t wait for the tomatoes and summer squash to be ready. yummy and free food! soap huh? that is so interesting…how does it smell?

    stacy’s last blog post..Mother-in-laws are fun!

    Nope, we’re not in yet Stacy. Welcome to Italy πŸ˜‰

    You want to know how the soap smells? Actually a lot like olive oil! And everyone knows how good olive oil is for the skin πŸ™‚

  9. 05.27.2008

    Hi Michelle! It is a sweet blessing to have such wonderful neighbors..I have my mom and dad as close neighbors..
    I haven’t stopped thinking about your girls day out with your friend! I have a Calabrian friend here in America who is from Satriano..her mom is still there and she visits once a year.
    The berries are beautiful..the mystery gift looks like Taleggio cheese..

    Laurie’s last blog post..Grilled Radicchio w/ Nutmeg Infused Walnut Sauce

    Ooh Satriano is pretty close to us–un saluto to your friend πŸ˜‰ We have another girls’ night coming up on Friday! Woohoo!

  10. 05.27.2008

    Anna Maria sounds like such a lovely neighbour….its great when you live a place where you know you are cared for. πŸ™‚

    anne’s last blog post..A post I am looking for!!

    So true Anne, so true πŸ™‚

  11. 05.27.2008

    Did she also give you the recipe for this soap??

    No Rebecca; I’m pretty sure it’s made with byproducts of the olive oil making process, which I don’t have…but I can ask πŸ™‚

  12. Rebecca

    Some sort of cheese with mushrooms in it?

    Rebecca’s last blog post..Where To Start?

    Definitely looks like it could be Rebecca, but no….

  13. Sally

    We have great neighbours too, but it does get a bit embarrassing because they bring round home made cakes or produce from the orto and i’m always thinking, ‘What can I give you in return?’ I’m a rubbish cake baker and the little produce we grow doesn’t go nearly far enough to offer a generous gift.

    The little produce is plenty Sally! It’s the thought that counts πŸ™‚

    My neighbor always tells me that we give because we have and because it’s with our hearts, not because of need…so cute!

  14. 05.28.2008

    I had the bestest neighbor in the entire world in our last house. She has become one of my closest friends. I still find it hard to believe that 2 years ago we didn’t even know each other. Now in my new house I’ve got some pretty awesome neighbors as well. It seems luck is following us in each house. And the house we’re building this fall…our current neighbors are building next to us again. So that makes me happy : )

    Erin’s last blog post..May I introduce you…

    That’s awesome Erin! So glad your luck is literally following you πŸ™‚

  15. 05.28.2008

    Oh, how funny that it’s soap and not cheese; it really does look exactly like a yummy, salty, hard, old cheese, something that would be exquisite in thin slices with all those luscious berries (which would themselves be delicious with That Cake, if you could prevent yourself from just gobbling them up immediately, au naturel; I know I couldn’t).

    You deserve the kindness of the people around you. I know you give at least as good as you get.

    Aw thanks Sara. And yes, doesn’t it just look like something you want to shave pieces of and enjoy…*love* cheese and fruit. I did manage to save some berries for later consumption, as you’ll see in WCW this week πŸ™‚

  16. 05.28.2008

    oh you’re so lucky! the fresh fruit looks amazing!!! also, is that cheese? if so, what kind–was it good? yum!

    what a great neighbour!

    Jackie’s last blog post..wee hours

    No Jackie…it’s soap! Please don’t eat the soap…hee hee πŸ˜‰

  17. 05.28.2008

    So…will we get the recipe for the soap? It looks like (fingers crossed) we’ll have more olive oil this year than we know what to do with!

    Diane’s last blog post..Pio’s kindergarten picture found

    Good for you Diane! I can certainly ask for the recipe; I’ll keep you posted!

  18. 05.28.2008

    We live in an apartment building and only know one neighbor. The others seems to lock themselves in their rooms the whole day! I love how you presented the olive oil soap – the background of the photo is amazing!

    grace’s last blog mom was tugging my skirt

    Glad you enjoyed the photo Grace πŸ™‚ I remember living in an apt building well–I swear I only ever saw maybe a quarter of the people who lived in the whole complex…of 4 buildings and 20 stories or so each!

  19. SabineM

    SOAP? I was also on the Cheese wagon, wow, I would have never guessed soap!

    SabineM’s last blog post..Enjoying the great outdoors

    Yeah, I definitely thought it was cheese the first time someone handed me some of this. I *quickly* learned the word “sapone” (soap) in Italian πŸ˜‰

  20. 05.31.2008

    Great neighbors is definitely high on my list of what makes life bearable. I lived in London for 5 years and NEVER knew my neighbors. Luckily I never had bad neighbors, but still, 5 Years! I now have two neighbors , one a cook, and the other a great eater, who I consider my two best friends. We frequently shop in each other’s pantries (larders) and in each other’s closets. Our kids all love each other and it is a fabulous support system. What more could you want!

    african vanielje’s last blog post..Eat In RMB Private Bank SA Produce Awards

    Wow, you definitely lucked out on the neighbor front! Congratulations πŸ™‚

  1. [...] neighbor Anna Maria is always bringing me something from oranges and lemons to (I’m not making thi...
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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