During the week we had a few sweet things that happened…. The first was that the kids had their first horse riding lesson (well at least Gabby did). Her teacher Flavio, runs a humble horse riding school, set in probably one of the most picturesque places in the world. There is something about the trust between man and horse that makes me weak in the knees and I was in awe at this man for his capacity to teach this little Australian girl who didn’t speak Italian – and he spoke very little English….But watching the teacher – student – and horse get to know each other was such a the pleasure… for so many reasons….but the most profound being the pride Gabby’s father Nick would have had to have been watching this unfold….In fact I was sure he was there with us watching it all. Nick had a deep respect and love of horses and was determined to offer the children at least the opportunity to experience just a little of the joy that he experienced during his childhood. I had no expectations of how the kids would go, as they are all so young – they all had a go and loved it. Gabby was the only one to have a “proper” lesson and she was trotting by the end of her lesson… This was a magical experience and we will be back to see Flavio and Sheila (the horse) when we return to Lucca….
On our last night in Lucca we were joined by two VERY dear friends from Australia, Bez and Teen. Their friendship and company has always been dear to Nick and I and this was no exception. The kids were thrilled to have some aussie accents in the house and I was happy to have some adult company, albeit brief.
Holidays in Follonica……
Shortly after our arrival in Lucca and my attempts to join clubs/lessons/groups, I soon discovered that very little organized educational activities are available over summer (or at least august) due to the transient population during this period…..
So this, in addition to my newly found love in Ken (the GPS navigator), and a number of generous offers from very generous Italian friends, I made the decision to hit the road (and ocean – explanation a little later…)…
About 2 weeks ago Giulia e Andrea offered us to join them at their family beachside penthouse for three nights…..For those that don’t know Giulia is the genius that recommended Lucca as the most suitable place for the Griffins to stay for 6 months – and I am sooo happy she made this suggestion!!!!! So we arrived to the warm embrace and welcome of Giulia - we caught up and the kids explored this amazing new space with breath taking views north and south of the coast and across the ocean was Isola d’Elba. By the evening we decided to go for a stroll along the fabulous walkway that appeared to go on forever – and the weather was begging us to lap it up…. The kids and I went down the lift first as it was tiny lift that accessed the apartment …. this was fine by me as the kids needed a good run around…..instead….we got stuck in the lift on level 7 to be exact!!!!!!!!!! Supprisingly the kids and I were pretty calm about it but the inhabitants of Level 7 were terrified that a woman with three small children could perish in their lift….It was hilarious and I felt guilty for finding this funny instead of frightening!!! All we could see was about 8 pairs of hands trying to prize open the doors….to no avail…..again the superb Vigili del Fuoco came to our rescue and the Griffins were free once again….The inhabitants of level 7 almost broke down in tears at the joyous outcome of this terrifying episode and we giggled all the way homeJ
Yesterday Giulia and Andrea organized a day in the country side to visit some very close family friends (generational friends – to those who know of our family- similar to the Wall/Griffin family friendship). This was to me one of my best days here yet…It took me completely by surprise and this family (nonna, nonno, 2 daughter + husbands and 7 grandchildren 18-11 years) created the most loving, warm, welcoming hospitality that was beyond my imagination of possibility. We started off with a long play in the gardens / vineyard and orchard. Everyone in the family spoke English and for our benefit they spoke English for the entire day to make me / us feel included…. We all stumbled to the very elegantly set table to fill up on some amazing traditional Tuscan / family recipes… As tradition goes I was expected to eat everything …and in abundance…those who know me know that I am prone to eat like this anyway and eat I did!!!!!
After lunch we all retreated to a bed or couch that scattered this beautifully restored typical rustic Tuscan villa. We all rose again at about 5pm to take a drive through some of the historical sites of the areas…. I unfortunately was grappling with a 3 year old who had possibly the most miserable afternoon of his life … and he let me know it….. As a result I didn’t get to absorb as much of the detail as I would have liked but what I enjoyed the most was moving around in the company of this family who were so beautiful with Spencie and Gabby – who were in heaven with the attention and affection of their new friends…
We returned back to the villa at about 9.30pm for dinner which was all laid out and ready for us (thanks to nonna) when we returned home….Kids being kids finished dinner before the adults and the Italian children delighted the adults with a plethora of theatrical , lyrical and musical performances……It was hilarious, charming, sweet, warming, inspiring and all full of family fun…. When the adults finished dinner one of the children announced that they would like to dedicate a song to the Australian guests as we had bought them so much joy and many members of the family (children and adults) played their various instruments to the tune of “ode to joy”……Can you imagine!!! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, hearing or feeling – how did I get here?? How am I this lucky???
By the end of the night we had all exchanged numbers and details and I was sobbing like a baby in the arms of my new friends – slightly embarrising – but it was truly an overwhelming experience. I truly hope I share more moments with this family as they hold the true spirit of family so preciously close to their hearts….
With so much gratitude and love in my heart from Saturdays experience we said our farewell to Giulia, Andrea and Marco and head to the Port of Civitavecchia (Near Rome) and we are heading to Lampedusa (via Sicilia) on a boat… which is where I am writing this blog J In Lampedusa we will be welcomed by Andrea’s brother Giovanni, family and friends…… More adventures await us and I will be sure to fill you in when we return to Lucca…..
Lots of love to my family and friends