Italians are known for their close-knit extended families. And surely our Messors workshop was living proof of that.
Tonio’ wife Jennifer Bell, a painter and former actress and set designer, handled most of the arrangements and administrative details, while also making sure that breakfast was on the table by 7:30. Nine-year-old August made charming conversation with all the participants and was remarkably patient sharing his parents’ attention with us. Tonio’s sister, Rosanna, was the chef for many meals, as was Marco, her son, who is a graduate student in marketing. Grazia, a student in historic conservation assisted with the meals and clean-up, as did Rosalba, her 16-year-old sister. I did not see even a hint of bickering between these siblings, just cooperation, hard work, and good cheer.
At our last dinner, Tonio’s octogenarian parents attended. I had a jolt when I went into the kitchen right after dinner and saw his mother, apron on, washing dishes. She looked so much like my own mother, I got choked up, knowing that is exactly where she would have been, too.