When someone invites you at their home, what would you like to find?
How would you like to be welcomed?
If you receive an invitation for dinner, you groom yourself well, you dress decently, or maybe even elegantly, and you set your emotions for a pleasant evening.
You knock at the door of your host, and when he opens, he’s badly dressed, and maybe even not so clean.
The first impression is not so good.
You walk through the door, and you see that the place is messy, dirty, and rather smelly
Maybe the dinner is not ready yet.
All right, you think, this is normal! Now my host will invite me to sit in a comfortable place, and offer me a drink until the dinner is ready.
He sits you in a corner of a sofa that’s full of newspapers, bits of crisps and pistachios, dog hairs and children’s toys.
You are wearing one of your best suits, so you feel uneasy; you don’t want to humiliate your host by refusing to sit down, meanwhile you think of how it bothers you, having to take the suit to the laundry the day after.
The rather unpleasant smells coming from the kitchen make you wonder what you will have to eat.
The children screaming from the next room are clearly making a fuss because they don’t want to go to bed.
Your host leaves you alone, to go quell the mutinous little fiends.
Your dream of a pleasant, relaxing evening slowly fades away.
At last you sit at the table.
The table is drab, the tablecloth is undignified; there are some old stains, it hasn’t been ironed properly, nor have the napkins, dirty and uneven.
Cutlery and glasses are opaque, and bear visible signs of calcium.
In your mind, you wonder if they are really clean.
Now you feel like finding an excuse to stand and leave.
You think the dishes will be equal to the rest.
You are convinced that if your host did not commit himself to giving you a worthy welcome, then at his eyes you are insignificant.
You know what he thinks of you, and you don’t like it!
I am half Sicilian, on my mother’s side; and to southern Italians a guest is sacred.
That is what Romans thought, too; those who could afford a luxurious villa, with rooms for guests and banquets, like the triclinium.
Those were the most beautiful rooms of the whole house.
They were kept spotless clean, well furnished and decorated.
Mosaic pavements were the luxury, the exclusivity that the host flaunted, and reserved for his guests.
In this way, he communicated two important things:
– what he thought of his guests, i.e. that they deserved the best
– how affluent he was, and how high he stood on the social scale.
The mosaic spoke of his greatness, power and wealth, of his way of welcoming guests in exclusive, extraordinary environments.
The banquet was the final touch of the royal treatment that he gave to his guests; this would help the conversation, and often also foster lucrative trades.
The art of hospitality, when it comes with wisdom and taste, IS LUXURY.
Hosting your guests in a place finely decorated with mosaic IS EXCLUSIVITY, so
IT IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY!
This is what I write on this subject in my book, chapter 5.2 page 121:
“LIKE THE GODS, how to become immortal without the need for the Philosopher’s Stone or ambrosia”,
Make sure you get your copy from here:
COME GLI DEI
(Soon available in English)
This is an example of how and where the art of hospitality was practised:
Roman Villa Salar, Granada