Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time with friends...Rome and Pisa

 So hectic once again....wait a minute....I continue to be hectic! About two weeks ago my allocated appointment time finally arrived for an interview for my official permit to stay in Italy for 6 months.... But on my mission for retrieving all required documents I discovered that my passport was missing...eeeek!
This alone required several trips to the local caribnieri, Questura, (various levels of police) etc with the inevitable trip to the Australian Rome!!! The silver lining in it all really! The idea of a train trip to Roma with a change over in Firenze with three kids was somewhat intimidating but I had the privilege and comfort in knowing that we would be warmly received in Rome by the Tani/Crino family...our Italian family :-)
The train trip went exceptionally smooth and the children fantastic on the way to Rome...and our welcoming party did not disappoint. The children were whisked into a world of fun, warmth and music…..not to mention a heartwarming meal J It is always such a pleasure and home style comfort to be in the company of this family. The various personalities and talents of this family never cease to fascinate and entertain myself and the children….
The next day was down to business and once again I was spoiled by having Francesca chaperone me through the Roman bus system – which I am absolutely sure I would have performed dismally… Without drama we reached the practical and comprehensive service of the Australian Embassy in Rome. Once all paperwork duties were complete we headed for home…..I have to point out that this bus trip was so much more enjoyable because A) I had somebody telling me exactly where, when and what I needed to do and B) this bus route dissected the center of Rome, seeing many of the major sites and treasure troves Rome has offers on such a majestic and impressive scale.
After a well earned rest we head out again for the evening to our other Italian family the Guzzetta’s who we shared such a magnificent time with in Lampedusa. This was an evening of Japanese and the a grand tour of their newly renovated apartment in central Rome….we were all very impressed with the transformation and I loved the combination of modern edge with old style architecture…nicely done!
The following days we spent with both families rambling through some of the grand sized villa gardens, having picnics, playing soccer, going to markets and strolling through the center of town where we ate some GF pizza J
The train ride home was a little more hectic as we returned on a Sunday afternoon – trains were packed. My problems were mainly due to A)my belated realization that the tickets we had been allocated were infact separated between car 8 and car 10 – not possible (although tempting:-/) to separate me and two children – nor legal I would imagine.. and B) the complete lack of cavalier in of anyone (particularly the men) around me. The two seat that we located we occupied and the people in the seats refused to move as they two had been allocated those seats…BUT they were both young early 20’s romantic couple who were blind to the fact I had just hauled on the luggage, pram and negotiated my way through the train with 3 very tired small children!!! Thank God I came across a very capable sensible bilingual gentleman who came to my aide and assured me he would sort this out – and he did – and we all proceed to drift off to a deep sleep. :-)

This weekend we visited Pisa for the first time, where we visited our dear Aussie/Italian friends G & A. It was a beautiful autumn day, sunny with clear blue skyes. Their home is so welcoming that when spencer arrived to the top level he jubilantly declared “Mum I love our new home!!!” I had to let him down gently…We were also greeted by extra visitors G’s friend from Madrid (who we all felt a bond with immediately as that is where Ceci is now) and A’s parents who spent a day out on our boat last year! While we all got talking the chidren played in the courtyard and in particular the abundance of ripe and very available pomegranate tree. After much deliberation of our options of agenda we decided to head first to a dolce festa just around the corner where we feasted on an intriguing variety of chocolate, gelati, biscotti, spectated in the panforte throwing competition and watched a puppet show ….a true hit with the kids ….how could it be anything else…. After another decision making process we decided to head to the hills where a little villiage  Terricciola, where they were celebrating the Sacra della leper (festival of the hare). This was a really pretty drive through the country side and when we arrived I felt immediately relieved that this was the right decision… it felt like a country fair, a typical town hall with no grand decoration but the passion and essence of the evening was in the preparation of the food.  Everything was based on the preparation of the hare …with pasta..with olives, with beans. Plus some polenta fritta…..not to mention washed down with a good rough red J After eating we naturally adjourned to the dance floor where the kids and I well and truly kicked up our heels. I often think of Nicko when we dance and last night was no exception as my kids like to be the first on the dance floor…just like their Dad. Our dedication to the dance floor was briefly interrupted by the raffle draw….which I won!!! A brand new, very stylish red, green and white vespa styled and vespa branded helmet!!!!! Now all I need is either a vespa or a boyfriend with a vespa ;-)
After a big day of jubilant success we said our goodbyes to G, A, M and our new Spanish friend M and headed home for Lucca, as expected the kids were asleep before we even exited the tiny village and I was in bliss knowing that we had had such a full and happy day.  According to the GPS I was due to arrive to our carpark at 11.55pm but I was happy knowing that we had all had so much fun and that Sunday would truly be a day of rest…. Except about 20min out from home, on the autostrade ….I blew a tyre!!!! This was such an obscure circumstance to be in, my initial reaction was to laugh until I though what to do.. It’s been a very long time since I last changed a tyre and I certainly haven’t changed a 4WD tyre, so I quickly came to the conclusion that in the narrow strip beside the autrostrade in the dark it was best I called for help… So as it was Giovanni’s car I was driving, I called him, fortunately he talked me through the options and I decided to call the 116 number for help. I waited around for an hour or so and eventually a truck arrived …. A big burley Italian man got out ( of course he spoke no English) and with gesture he signaled that I needed to drive the car onto the back of the tow truck where we were to remain while he towed us away to an area with more space…. I just had to have faith that he was a good man and would do the right thing, it was a most obscure feeling being inside the car on the back of a truck, I am not completely sure how safe this is but I was willing to take the chance… Once it was all fixed I discovered that he only takes cash…. Which I did not have enough of so, off on another detour I followed his truck this time to a bancomat in a little village off the autostrade.. All paid up I got back on the autostrade and back to Lucca in a jiff. Surprisingly getting home at 2am I was even more jubilant that the day was FULL of jubilant adventure!
 Giulias pomegranite tree

 Dancing Tuscan country style :-)

 Festival of the Hare...Mum and Dad would be so proud!!

 Magdalena in the winning Helmet!

 Fresh Pomegranite

 Spencer and Andrea

 Malachy at his kindy on San Michelle day where we made wooden swords

 Panforte throwing competition

 stacking the gelati cups after lunch... 

 Entertainment at the markets in Roma

 Just a snippet of the view from our day in the gardens

 Spencer mopping up his abundant adoration

 Malachy and Gabby sleeping through the Panthenon

Spencer and Giovanni walking through the city.

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