Vercelli: Tom Finds the Fork


Any town with newspaper cuttings of Hannah Arendt and James Bond in a shop window has to be good, and Vercelli is.

“I rod from Sian at about foure of the clocke in the morning, the fourteenth day of June being Tuesday, and to a faire city in Piemont called Vercellis, which is eighteen miles from Sian, betwixt ten and eleven of the clocke. This fourteenth day of June was S. John Baptists day in Italy, according to the new stile, which is never with us in England before the foure and twentieth of June. The day is very solemnely kept in all the Cities, Townes, and Parishes of Italy, but in some of the greater cities as Rome, Venice, Naples, Milan, Florence, &c. it is celebrated with very pompous and sumptuous solemnity. These shewes I them observed in Vercellis…accompanied with many singing boys, and men before them in surplices with burning tapers in their hands, and a great multitude of women and children behinde, which carried burning tapers also: they went all in couples very orderly. But I never saw in all my life such an ugly company of truls and sluts, as their women were. Withall there was an exceeding shooting of squibs [a common kind of firework] in every street where the Procession passed.


Just like that football

I observed a custome in many Townes and Cities of Italy, which did not a little displease me, that most their best meats which come to the table are sprinkled with cheese, which I love not so well as the Welchmen doe, whereby I was oftentimes constrained to leese my share of much good fare to my great discontentment.

In most of their Innes they have white canopies and curtains, made of needle work, which are edged with very faire bone-lace.

Here I wil mention a thing that might have been spoken before in discourse of the first Italian towne. I observed a custome in all those Italian cities and townes through the which I passed, that is not used in any other country that I saw in my travels, neither doe I thinke that any other nation of Christendome doth use it, but only Italy. The Italian and also most strangers that commorant in Italy, doe alwaies at their meales use a little forke when they cut their meat. For while with their knife which they hold in one hand they cut the meate out of the dish, they fasten their forke which they hold in their other hand upon the same dish, so that whatsoever he be that sitting in the company of any others at meale, should unadvisedly touch the dish of meate with his fingers from which all at the table doe cut, he will give occasion of offencec unto the company, as having transgressed the laws of good manners, in so much that for his error he shall be at least brow-beaten, if not reprehended in wordes. This forme of feeding I understand is generally used in all places of Italy, their forkes being for the most part made of yron or steele, and some of silver, but those are only used by Gentlemen. The reason of this their curiosity is, because the Italian cannot by any means indure to have his dish touched with fingers, seeing all mens fingers are not alike cleane. Hereupon I my selfe thought good to imitate the Italian fashion by this forked cutting of meate, not only the while I was in Italy, but also in Germany, and oftentimes in England since I came home: being once quipped for that frequent using of my forke by a certain learned Gentleman, a familiar friend of mine, one M.Laurence Whitaker, who in his merry humour doubted not to call me at table Furcifer, only for using a forke at feeding, but for no other cause.”

Italian wins Spanish Football championship…

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