Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A weekend of spontaneity...

After so much fun in the hills of Tuscany during the week we decided to hit the road once again this time with no planned destination we thought we should just see where the road took us.... We headed northeast of Lucca, past our friends place (where Gabby's largest ever tantrum took place) ...we went past without too much fanfare.... I thought it was a bit too soon to return so we kept meandering through the hills but unfortunately of late gabby has developed quite bad motion sickness....talk about a weak stomach, fort coeliac now motions sickness! Anyway she was feeling a bit crook so we decided to compromise and find a "straighter road" which took us to Livorno about 1 hour south on the west coast. A beautiful city with a magnificent grand broad walk with what Gabby described as the worlds biggest chess board (black and whit tiles)... So we attempted too play chess on the board walk using our bodies as the pieces, but the combination of not enough bodies to substitute as pieces and a not so cooperative pair of boys we decided to open up our picnic for lunch. This was all so relaxed spontaneous and enjoyable.  I laid down on the grass, probably riddled with dog pee but who cares and enjoyed the gentle autumn sunshine while the children played in the rotunda, harassed the toy stall and mingled with the local kids... After our last autostade affair I decided to take the back roads home back to Lucca which was a delight as we got to drive straight past the leaning tower of Pisa and the majestic walls surrounding it.....We got home so happy and content that we decoded to go to the movies where we just caught I puffi ( the smurfs) which was a hit with all of us... Only 150 meters from home I put the boys on my bike and gabby road her bike home where we all snuggled up in bed promptly falling asleep.
Sunday I woke up tired to be honest but feeling encouraged with my success in spontaneity the previous day. So we went for a stroll through town about 10.30am. I let the children scoot around the piazza San Michelle normally while I get a coffee at the bar, normally with no dramas....but us being us.. This nice little arrangement couldn't always run smoothly...! Refreshed with my the consumption of my much appreciated cappuccino I do a scan for the kids ...no sign of them....wait a minute what is that crowd of people doing over there in the middle of the piazza....oh dear! Hoarding around a group of there poor abandoned children one of which had come off his scooter and was acting up his end of the drama so well that had a broadway scout been strolling by Malachy could have had a contract for life! One I finally made my way through the crowd and humbly claimed the children as my own (probably with a spot of coffee at the tip of my nose of guilt), I was reassured that all was fine and well....so well in fact Malachy had been given no less than 4 new toys and 3 band aides for his efforts!!!  Within the crowd contained a local family (well the husband from Denmark) with three young kids exactly the same age as mine.... They were so nice and reassuring that this was not an unusual circumstance for them either... So kind that there and then we exchanged phone numbers we plan to catch up for a play date soon :-)
After this drama we decided to get out of town again, after last weekends sagre of the hare success I was sniffing around for another local sagre - which I found about an hour north of Lucca in a mountain top village in the Garfagnana called Castiglione Di Garfagnana, where they held the Rassegna del fungo, tartufo e castagna (mushroom, truffle and chestnut).....you can see why this one caught my eye! We wound up the mountain and arrived to this pristinely prepared village, it was so evident that the town was so extremely proud of this event and rightly so. They put on a lovely show in spectacular venue. These sagra's are all based on food and wine consumption and the benefit of this one was that coincidently almost everything was gluten free...polenta, risotto, truffles, mushroom, steak, egg... Gabby was in heaven...and me too. The sit down area was under a marquee put up on the main piazza of this little village where after we finally got a free table, sat down for 6 courses ( I only ordered two menus).... The atmosphere was great the central table was rowdy and drunk, which suited me to a tea... They were not only amusing with their drinking games but they made my kids look like angles.....I would never have attempted this in Australia, a six course meal with just myself and the kids!!!! I would have told u I would rather cut off my left arm....but here it is not only doable, but thoroughly enjoyable! What place in Australia could you go for six courses where they let your kids scribble on the tablecloths, crawl under the long tables, spill their food and drinks without even battering an eyelid?  By the end of our meal we had a few of the drunks surrounding us trying to squeeze out the little English they knew to get a grasp on why we were their in such a distant location…I am sure we were the only English speaking people in the “tent”, which somehow made the experience even more special.  The children lapped up the attention and enjoyed showing off the many Italian phrases they have learnt, it was such a joy!   After lunch we strolled through the narrow ancient streets and sampled all the stalls purchasing chickpea flour (to attempt to make cecina at home), fragola jam, olive oil hand cream, chestnut cream, and a few little crafty things for the kids. Everyone was happy so I decided it was a good time to get going, just as we were about to head out of the main porta of the town the local philarmonic society gathered and started to play ….well this was just the icing on the cake, the olive oil on the warm bread… again the kids danced and soaked up the joy, sound and warmth that this little town exuded! Eventually we extracted ourselves from this charming location and headed back to home, satisfied, proud and happy that we had had such a successfully adventurous weekend!
We even came up with an idea to counterbalance the disappointment of having to go to school on Monday….now termed “Mad mentos Monday’s”…
Grazie a tutti
Ciao for now J

 our picnic spot under a tree 
 the view from our picnic...overlooking the rotunda and the ocean

 Using the rotunda as a stage...

 ....or a circus...

 The world is our playground...spot the boys using the side of stairs as a slide :-)

 Piazza San Michelle

 Castiglione di Garfagnana

 just a snippet of the view...

 fried egg....with truffle...yummmmm! Spencers response.."why did they have to put this yucky stuff on my egg?" ....I helped him out with the removal ;-)

 oops...we ate most of the food before i thought of photographing...
 about 4pm....most people were outside by now smoking....just us and the drunks (in the centre) remained:-)
on our way out of town....


  1. Fantastic story as always Bron. Love the honesty and openess as much as the sightseeing. I almost feel like it's me - the one daughter and two sons. I have no doubt my stories will resemble yours if and when I get the chance to do this amazing adventure

  2. Thanks Kate, It's a bit rough at times ....but the good times as you can read/see are worth it all!