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villalba: the rebirth of a church

I’ve been travelling for the last few weeks with Gina Mastrosimone, and we’ve come to Villalba to meet her Sicilian family for the first time, most of whom now live in France. We’re here on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

The mix of languages is fascinating, an Italian-French-Sicilian soup, rarely a complete sentence leaving anyone’s mouth that isn’t a concoction of the three (Of the three, Gina and I only speak Italian, a fact that never seems to stop anyone but us).

After the morning mass the nature of my bicycle trip slips out and it’s decided I’m to cook dinner with Giuseppina, widely, widely regarded as the best cook in town. We buy groceries but avoid the butcher, as we’re to skip meat until Saturday. Outside the butcher’s window, I photograph the drops of dripping lamb’s blood on the granite slab.
We empty our arms onto the kitchen table and leave to attend mass in the city’s main church, which is still under restoration. It’s the first time that an entire generation has the seen the building open, a fact that escapes no one.

The empty church cast a feeling that I don’t know I’ll ever shake.



Silvestro Silvestori
Sommelier / Owner / Director of The Awaiting Table Cookery School, Lecce, Italy

Silvestro Silvestori, the owner, founder and director of The Awaiting Table Cookery School, Lecce, Italy has been teaching the food and wine of Puglia and particular- Italy’s Salentine peninsula since 2003. In addition to his knowledge of Pugliese food and culture, Silvestro is a nationally-certified sommelier in Italy, and a staff writer for Wine & Spirits magazine, covering all their Southern Italian food and wine content. He has also appeared on American, Australian, Belgian, British, Chinese, Dutch and Italian television, and Italy’s most respected newspaper called him, ‘A national treasure’, and ‘THE anthropologist of the traditional cuisine of the Salento’ for his work in preservation and promotion of Salentine’s food and wine.

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