Those of us spending Autumn term of architecture school in the Architecture in Rome program through the University of Washington will know this tradition well. Though we were far from home and family, we produced a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner under the direction of Professor Astra Zarina. This has been a tradition for several decades now.
Students shared preparation of trimmings, accompanying dishes and lovely traditional American desserts. I recall peeling an endless number of Granny Smith apples for pies. The turkey? Well the turkey is something else. Ovens in our apartments (as with most Italian ovens) are not large enough to accommodate baking of turkeys. Remember, the last Thursday in November for the celebration of Thanksgiving is an American holiday and the Italians don't do "Turkey Day" as one of their traditions.
Our adaptation was to carry our dressed, but as yet unbaked turkey across the piazza, Campo dei Fiori, shown in the above photo, to our local baker (located on the street level of the large orange-colored building in the photo). The baker (il panettiere) could fit the turkey in his grande bread oven (il forno)---no problemo. Over the years the market merchants (whose umbrellas you see pictured above) transformed our turkey walk into a ceremonial parade, by joining in and cheering our group of students carrying the sacrificial turkey across square from our school building to the baker.
The year I was in Rome, our NIAUSI (Northwest Institute for Architecture and Uban Studies in Italy) Fellowship recipient, Catherine Barrett hand painted a little watercolor turkey place card (pictured above) for each student and other dinner guests. Yes, I still have mine. ;o)
Wishing you a beautiful opportunity to give thanks, whether with family, friends or far from home, this Thanksgiving Day.