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Posts Tagged ‘Ceriana’

One last look back…

11/07/2016

I have spent the last week (in between toddler wrangling, domestic chores and sweating attractively due to the ghastliness of a humid summer) reading all that I have posted since this blog began in March 2010.

And as Status Viatoris was created, in part, to document my experiences on moving to Italy, this nostalgic little journey was made even more interesting by the fact that I am now beginning my preparations to leave.

Having weeded out those posts that in retrospect only existed to fill writers’ block-induced lapses in content, I am still left with almost 300 accounts of this and that. Not a massive amount for a blog over six years old, but certainly enough to keep the memories alive.

So in honour of these last six plus years – to remind me of the wonderful times I have had in Italy whilst reassuring me that leaving is the best decision for me and my little family, I have decided that I will re-post a selection of past writing for old times’ sake.

I shall call them “Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays”.

Consider yourselves warned.

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Shopkeeper Over and Out

02/09/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

After a tourist season that lasted approximately three weeks, I have been left with no option but to close the doors of my itty bitty emporium, In po’ de tütu.

The months of indecision and evermore tangled thought processes have been brain-scrambling in the extreme; but ultimately, all my ponderings on what to stock and how to stock it, opening hours and window displays, lead me unfailing to the same conclusion – if there is little or no footfall past the door, most everything else is futile.

I live in a village of barely a thousand inhabitants. There are three grocery shops, a butcher’s, a patisserie, a newsagent, two hairdressers, a post office, a bank and a shop selling anything from bras to olive nets – i.e. most residents’ basic requirements are met.

And understandably, in the current climate of financial uncertainty, basic requirements are all most of us are really concerned about.

Which leaves the usually fairly predictable tourist season; this year beset not only by atrocious weather, but also what has undoubtedly been a record low in pit-stopping travellers.

The second-home owners (never my best customers anyway) staged their annual arrival en masse, but there was a pronounced dearth of new faces; those that did pop up being primarily of the self-catering variety and in frustrating possession of well-honed budgets that did not apparently include serious provision for knick knacks, souvenirs and/or bric-à-brac.

Thus the final dawn of yet another SV endeavour is heralded, but as battling on in the face of such financial precariousness seems the very antithesis of a sensible parent-type, I shed no tears…

Besides, having some stress-free time to spend getting used to the terrifying connotations of impending motherhood, may be just what the dottore ordered 😉

This is Status Viatoris, bobbing plumply on a never-ending sea of change, in Italy.

No Turning Back…

31/07/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Heavy left hands...

Heavy left hands…

For I am now officially married.

Hitched.

Spliced.

Wed.

I jumped the broom, tied the knot, took the marital plunge; and do you know what? Life doesn’t feel remotely different.

Who’d a thunk it.

In the end, and like all the best bridezillas, I managed to get away with the wedding I had always wanted (if I had to have one at all, that was).

No fuss, minimal flap, a complete absence of fancy white dress and the bare necessity of guests.

Having ignored my bridal apparel for as long as possible (much to the anxiety of the much-into-forward-planning Mothership) I jumped in the bathtub for an ablute about an hour prior to the ceremony before finally allaying her fears by squeezing my ample tum into its nuptial threads without bursting any of the more obvious seams.

By ten to seven on Monday evening – apparently a most irregular choice of moments for matrimony – Tigger (resplendent in his new trainers) and I were hanging around outside the town hall with the majority of our 25 strong wedding party, waiting for the stragglers whilst being snapped in the first of far too many photos.

Civil wedding ceremonies in Italy, like many supposedly formal occasions, are nothing if not laid back; especially when the lady mayoress/celebrant happens to be a neighbour and very close friend.

With our very special marriage celebrant...

With our very special marriage celebrant…

Tigger and I were told not to bother sitting down in the chairs provided – no point, this will only take about five minutes! – so we stood obediently before her as she read out the contractual obligations we were entering in to, while our unruly party milled about taking yet more photos and umpiring a small ruckus that briefly broke out between a canine wedding guest and a curious cat that had popped in from the street midway to see what all the fuss was about.

Other than the usual exhortations to look after one’s spouse and not to get frisky with third parties, there was one final request in the wedding service that I found particularly poignant – the obligation to:

“instruct and educate offspring whilst taking into account their abilities, their natural inclinations and their own aspirations.” 

Potential Pushy Parents – you have been warned…

So, the final “sì” having been said, rings and kisses exchanged; newly weds and witnesses signed the register and Tigger and I made our way back down into the fresh air to be liberally showered with rice (and a random box of macaroni) for good luck in our new life together.

Then, horns blaring, the wedding party convoy made its noisy way along the 3km between village and pizzeria, where we settled in for an exquisite “giro pizza” and an unforgettable evening in the company of our most beloved blood relatives and our adoptive Italian family.

Non-traditional eco-flavour wedding favours...

Non-traditional eco-flavour wedding favours…

Romanians, Brits, Italians, Argentines and a random Ecuadorian – a truly international wedding.

This is Mrs Status Viatoris, who now has to decide if she has the energy to tussle with Italian bureaucracy in order to exchange her very boring surname for a marginally more exotic one, in Italy.

A Bit of Everything but Customers

04/06/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Decision-making time is fast approaching… and sadly it is the fate of my little emporium that hangs precariously in the balance.

Since I officially opened in October 2012 I have been cruising along a fun, but terrifying, retail learning curve.

WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT appears to be one of the most frustratingly arbitrary questions the owner of a retail establishment can ask herself – for no matter how varied your stock might be, you are still beset on a daily basis by requests for that very thing you don’t happen to have on your shelves.

Shelves sans TENA Lady

Shelves sans the obvious, apparently

TENA Lady, for example. Or special paper with which to line drawers. Posters of Spiderman, or bicycle pumps (apparently some locals have taken the name of the shop a little too literally).

One must of course speculate in order to accumulate, but as I now find myself with a shed full of Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and carnival party accoutrements that did not meet the favour of the local youth (“this is crap, haven’t you got so-and-so instead?” whilst knowing perfectly well that so-and-so will almost certainly be off their wish list by the time I get my hands on it), I have to ask myself; will I ever be certain enough of people’s tastes not to keep throwing money away?

Christmas, although not the disaster I began to fear it might be, was by no means the success it could have been either: December proving to be nail-bitingly quiet until a last-minute rush on the 23rd, saved also by the orders I had coaxed some customers into making from my German toy supplier – the delivery of which screeched in on December 24th by the skin of its teeth and thanks only to the extreme kindness and dedication of a particular DHL driver…

Xmas delights which fell short of delighting

Xmas delights which fell short of delighting

New Year’s Eve was another disappointment: the eagerly ordered sparklers, party poppers, table fountains, jolly hats, confetti guns, squeaky trumpets and colourful paper balls to be shot out of cardboard pipes at unsuspecting bystanders, all being greeted by groans and the endlessly repeated “but haven’t you got any firecrackers?”.

Petardi: those deceptively innocent-looking twists of paper that when thrown at the ground emit an ear-splitting BANG, those little cones that when lit and placed on the ground emit an ear-splitting BANG, those cigarette shaped objects that when lit and thrown at the ground emit an ear-splitting BANG… No colourful lights, no special effects, no exciting whizzes. Just deafening explosions. And having witnessed first hand the terror of pets and elderly ladies alike when confronted with these abominations, I was not about to stock them myself.

Not petardi enough

Not petardi enough

I had prepared for the first three months of the year being deathly quiet – nobody ever has any money left after the excesses of the festive season and those dank months are certainly not conducive to touristy activities, so I reduced my hours right down, closing after mid-February’s carnival in order to head back to the UK for a month with the Mothership.

Returning just before Easter; perky and ready for the building crescendo to summer.

But at Easter it rained, so nobody came.

And then rained all through April, so ditto.

It went on to rain through most of May as well…

We are now into June; some people are still having to light their pellet heaters in the evenings and I am still sleeping under my winter duvet, bedsocks firmly on my icy tootsies.

The tourists – able to assess the temperature and precipitation levels of their holiday getaways prior to getting away, thanks to the internet, have sensibly kept their distance from My Little Italian Village and thus my little emporium is now into its sixth month of not making a bean.

Even if a meteorological miracle occurs and July and August are transformed into a spectacular summer, I’m not sure a shop that works for a mere two months out of every twelve only could ever really be a viable concern.

Add that to the fact that buying wholesale in Italy is an almost impossible task – the wholesale prices being but a whisker below the retail price, the quality questionable and the choice even more so.

Then add in the fact that buying from other, better prepared, EU countries involves (conveniently for the Italian government) vast amounts of “import” taxes.

Wonderful wooden toy company in Germany gets around the problem by having an Italian bank account

Wonderful wooden toy company in Germany gets around the import tax problem by having an Italian bank account

Multiply all that by the surprising number of customers who imagine that a tiny shop at the top of a hill should be able to produce postcards, calendars and handmade souvenirs for the same price as the mass-produced tat on sale in the hundreds of identikit kiosks along the coastline, and you have quite a serious impediment to success.

Postcards by the talented Simone Chanaryn

Postcards by the talented Simone Chanaryn

Unfortunately it matters not a jot to the Italian government how much money I am not making – my taxes and social charges remain the same (high) whether I am open or closed, selling lots or nothing at all. There exists no fiscal flexibility for activity of a seasonal nature: you continue to pay up until the coffers run dry, and then you close.

And whilst I am not quite at that point (for as long as the locals continue to exclaim how lovely it is to have a gift shop actively promoting their village with its bags and postcards, artwork and tea towels, books and knickknacks, it will be hard to turn my back on it) I am certainly casting around ever more desperately for a solution to a potentially impossible problem…

Little Italian Village stuff

Little Italian Village stuff

This is Status Viatoris, would pray for a miracle except she doesn’t believe in praying, or miracles for that matter 😉 in Italy.

Itchy Feet or Green Fingers

21/05/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Yesterday morning, an Antipodean friend set off on the next leg of her Overseas Experience: for Tesni it was a case of Arrivederci Italia, and Здравствуйте Россия! (or Hello Russia, if on-line dictionaries can be relied on…).

Usually such a move undertaken by a third-party would have me salivating with jealousy – all those new experiences! A brand new language! The sheer foreignness of it all! I wanna go toooooooo!

This time, however, I find myself strangely unmoved.

Curious to hear about her adventures, yes. But not remotely desirous of experiencing them for myself.

Very odd indeed.

It appears that whilst my mind has been occupied with other things – a small souvenir shop, publishing books on Kindle (by the way, have you bought and/or reviewed An English Fandango yet??), attempting to rid myself of a Gallic real estate behemoth, translating a Kenyan travel website and settling into life with a toyboy – my itchy feet have been busy transforming themselves into something rather more akin to roots.

In brief, and much to my surprise, life in My Little Italian village is still doing a pretty good job at holding my usually mosquito-length attention span; even after three long years.

One clear indication that I might at long last be growing up, is my ever-increasing passion for balcony plant life. With the expert guidance of Mothership, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time cooing over false shamrock and strawberries, chatting encouragingly to mint, chives, parsley and marjoram, and whispering sweet nothings to geraniums, thyme, oregano and rosemary.

Strawberries and friends

Strawberries and friends

I was ridiculously proud when the strawflowers overwintered, and racked with guilt when one of the fuchsias didn’t. Happiness was restored when I found twenty cockshafer larvae in the bottom of one pot, and abruptly torn away again when I read about the damage those little critters are capable of inflicting.

Hello

Fuchsia mark 2.

And so each new leaf, bud and flower is greeted with the surprised delight of one who is still not at all convinced of her plant-nurturing qualifications, nor her right-sort-of-wildlife identification skills.

Hello

A flowerful wall

Not being into purely ornamental flowers, my primary goal was to get the air a-buzzing with honey bees, bumble bees, hoverflies, butterflies and any other airborne creature of pollinatory inclinations.

Hello

Bee Corner

Other than the obvious advantages of providing me with an extremely fragrant outside space – lavender, thyme, chives and other flowering herbs being, apparently, what buzzy beasts like best – I am offered the added satisfaction of feeling that I am doing my best for the agriculturally beleaguered honey bee.

Hello

Wood sorrel attempting to distance itself from the disappointingly droopy basil plant next door…

With the assistance of a Friends of the Earth Bee Saver Kit, I have been able to choose the best plants for the job, and the helpfully provided pack of “bee-friendly” wild-flower seeds has been duly emptied into a hanging pot and molly coddled into sprouting fresh green shoots – indicative of exciting things to come.

Hello

The babiest of the three lavenders

Even Tigger has been called to action, and will soon begin his chosen task of building a nest box for solitary bees – much to the horror of our dear friend and next door neighbour, the lady mayoress, who is utterly convinced that we will all be stung into an early grave as soon as the last bit of bamboo is wedged into place.

hello

Future wildflowers

All in all growing up is not half as bad as I had feared; and although pottering around plant pots in ones jim-jams at seven o’clock in the morning is not quite as glamorous as jetting off to Moscow, it seems to be suiting me just fine.

For now.

This is Status Viatoris, hoping to encourage all gardeners and plant pot owners to take the humbly honey bee into consideration when choosing their blooms, in Italy.

A Bit of Everything…

29/10/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

…is what has been keeping me from SVing for the last month and a half.

What’s that?

You want me to be more specific?

I can’t.

Honestly, it really has all been down to A Bit of Everything.

Or to give it its true title: “In po’ de tütu” – AKA… my new shop!

MINE! Lock, stock, barrel (rent, taxes, stress, responsibility, success, failure) and all.

Now you must believe me when I say that this is absolutely not how I envisaged things going when I was called in to run Ci Vuole over the summer months.

No, the best I could hope for then was to be able to make it enough of a success to tempt the owner to stay open for another year – thus keeping me out of trouble on a part-time basis whilst providing regular-ish dollops of dosh to keep Pooch and me in bonios and focaccia.

But in typical SV fashion, taking over and re-opening the entire enterprise was something I decided to do after seriously considering it for about, oh, twenty minutes.

A Little Bit of Everything cheerfully muddled up together!

Because although those summer weeks indicated that with the right stock, the shop had the potential to be quite a hit, it was also apparent that even if it did work, it was unlikely ever to be in a position of offering enough income for two people.

So upon noticing the owner’s waning interest – which clashed uncomfortably with my gut feeling that both the shop itself and the village really deserved at least twelve months of hard work before its fate was decided – I made what may yet prove to be one of the rashest decisions of my life…

An exciting collection of smellies!

Ci Vuole, during the short months it was open, had dealt principally in antique furniture; not a particular hit with the locals, who all have cantine bursting with roba vecchia (“old stuff” as they scathingly refer to it); although a popular port of call for incomers wishing to furnish their village purchases with authentic pieces.

Thus the “usato” part of the trade triumvirate will stay on but in a slightly reduced format – the larger pieces remaining in their current owners’ houses and cantine, whilst their photos do the sweet-talking from a home-made catalogue that will be found in the shop.

Evil small-boy magnets used to part parents from hard-earned cash…

The “regali” are the small gift ideas that are so far finding favour with pretty much everyone, be they native or otherwise.

Relatively inexpensive smellies, jewellery, scarves, children’s toys, old-fashioned wooden games, decorations, greetings cards and Halloween (soon to be Xmas) items from Italy, the UK and Germany are just some of the products that the village seemed to be in need of.

Not forgetting the artistic contributions from local seamstresses, potters, painters, basket-makers and carpenters amongst others; whose talent is providing many of the wonderfully original and sometimes quirky items that help to make In po’ de tütu such a fun place to come for a pongle.

Postcards nestling in their home-made (ex-draining rack) display case.

The souvenir side of things has positively juggernauted since I asked for your help in putting together a postcard collection.

There is now a selection of books about the area, cds from the local polyphonic singing groups and instrumental bands, hand-painted aprons, maps, tourist guides, 2013 photographic calendars, pens, bags and possibly even umbrellas if I ever get around to it…

No chance of any visitor to the village escaping without purchasing some little knick-knack or other to keep memories of their stay alive!

Preparations for a chestnut festival that never was – snow (of all things!) stopped play.

Unfortunately the plan to stock some local produce – olives, honey, jams, dried tomatoes in oil and bottles of olive oil has had to be abandoned along the way, as a month-long (and rather expensive) course in food handling would need to be undertaken in order to sell even ready-packaged edibles.

But as food is one thing this village has never lacked, I’m sure my little offerings will not be too sadly missed.

The English Book Swap! Take one and leave one, or take one and make a donation to UNICEF!

So in a chestnut shell, this has so far been a hugely fun, vastly terrifying and terribly exciting journey through the initial trials of shopkeepery.

I have absolutely no idea what is waiting around the corner, but whatever it is, I am definitely looking forward to all the challenges the project will undoubtedly bring.

This is Status Viatoris, preparing to try a bit of everything in order to make this venture a success, in Italy.

“Wish You Were Here!”

06/07/2012

 status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Dear Reader,

I am writing this post to solicit your help.

I know! What cheek!

Part of my current busyness (the self-same busyness that is keeping me from writing interesting blogs for your benefit as opposed to begging favours only of benefit to me, snicker snicker) requires me to choose some photographs of My Little Italian Village to be turned into postcards.

Now I must stress that this is not because I am a sought-after – or even particularly good – photographer, but simply because the postcard selection currently offered here is rather dire, and I feel like trying my luck.

(The fact that I am helping out at the little shop that is to stock said postcards is also instrumental in giving my unremarkable photographic skills a platform).

At present I only have exterior shots of the village to choose from, although I shall soon also be snapping my way around the picturesque little nooks and crannies of our cobbled streets, and from this selection I would like to choose five shots to be made into postcards – which is where you come in…

My Little Italian Village 1

My Little Italian Village 2

My Little Italian Village 3

My Little Italian Village 4

My Little Italian Village 5

My Little Italian Village 6

My Little Italian Village 7

My Little Italian Village 8

My Little Italian Village 9

My Little Italian Village 10

My Little Italian Village 11

My Little Italian Village 12

My Little Italian Village 13

My Little Italian Village 14

My Little Italian Village 15

My Little Italian Village 16

My Little Italian Village 17

My Little Italian Village 18

My Little Italian Village 19

My Little Italian Village 20

…for it is your opinion I require in order to make the selection.

So if each of you could write in with your likes/dislikes (and photography advice, which would be extremely grateful received) it will enable me to pick the final five to be sent to the printers early next week.

Many thanks in advance!

This is Status Viatoris, Ansel Adams she most certainly ain’t, but consoles herself with the thought that her efforts are no worse than those currently masquerading as attractive representations of our beautiful village, in Italy.

Tiny Little Churches

07/06/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

May, in My Little Italian Village, brings us the chiesette (lit. little churches) in honour of La Madonna (the Virgin Mary), whose month it is according to the Roman Catholic calendar.

A large chiesetta.

The village and its surrounding countryside (and, indeed, most of Italy) is liberally festooned with small shrines to the various saints, all but the most central of which tend now to be left looking forlorn and neglected for much the time, bar the odd bunch of limp wildflowers gifted by a passing flock member.

A smaller chiesetta.

At the end of April, however, the small stone edifices in and around my village are briefly rescued from their state of abandonment with a profusion of flowers and statues of Maria, together with clusters of red church candles and sometimes even a typed or elaborately scribed prayer.

A roadside chiesetta.

Also tacked somewhere nearby will be a piece of paper with the time and date that the faithful should congregate at that particular chiesetta.

A temporary chiesetta.

Any carruggio (a world typically used in Liguria to mean narrow street, usually cobbled and impassable by motor-vehicles, and often with arches or parts of houses built overhead) in the village that does not already have a chiesetta but whose inhabitants wish to take part, simply uses a lace covered table or even cardboard box on which to perch their offerings.

Our chiesetta!

And then almost every afternoon or evening – depending on the distances involved in reaching the shrine – during the entire month of May, people gather at the chiesetta in question in order first to hear the local priest read mass, before reciting the rosary and singing hymns.

A proper chiesa…

Just another cultural oddity that makes My Little Italian Village special, and it is for that reason Pooch and I often drag our heathen arses along for the walk – even if we always decline to hang around long enough to hear the incantations…

…anyway, we reckon we get enough musical culture down the pub; listening to tipsy locals Acapellering their harmonious way through the dialect songs this region is famous for.

This is Status Viatoris, in no danger of being seduced to the “way” the “truth” or the “light” by the smell of incense, you will all be relieved to hear 😉 , in Italy.

Through the Keyhole

05/06/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Other than a few minor DIY odds and sods – that will now almost certainly be forgotten about until the some mildly inconvenient point in the future – Casa SV e Pooch is now officially open for business.

Sitting room complete with interactive hearth rug...

Sitting room complete with interactive hearth rug…

The business of living in it without constantly tripping over builders and their tools, that is.

Fine dining - when someone else cooks...

Fine dining –  only possible when someone else cooks…

And I must say that I am utterly overjoyed with the results.

The original kitchen floor – ideal for camouflaging discarded dog biscuits and other escaped food stuffs….

For whilst the exterior may not have the charm of a countryside rustico nor the interior the minimalist sophistication so sought after today; my little home has finally been transformed into the oasis of cosiness and tranquillity that I had been longing for.

Ablutions ahoy!

Just ripe for a wallow.

Small, but perfectly formed, the space feels as if it has at last reached its potential: a potential that required a considerable amount of squinting and an over-active imagination to discern whilst buried under the car-crash interior inexplicably wished on it by the previous occupants.

Apples and pears and a handy storage cupboard as suggested by the ever practical Mothership!

(Post containing photos of aforementioned car-crash interior can be found by clicking here).

Snuggling under the eaves in a real bed is a huge improvement to camping downstairs on a squeaky sofa bed.

Although I had flirted briefly with the idea of burying myself neighbourlessly in the depths of the Ligurian countryside, my hermit-like tendencies definitely make living in close proximity to other people the healthier option (if I don’t wish to make the headlines as a mad old bat unseen by living soul for decades until the day a craving for chocolate sends her out into the wider world to startle local children).

Miniature lav – men must poke heads out of skylight in order to pee standing up.

So I live on my own, but I never feel alone because I’m surrounded by people, noisy people; noisy people and their equally noisy offspring and their even noisier pets. I am forced to be sociable every time I step outside my house; but when I retreat back inside, closing my front door behind me, I could just as easily be in some country rustico, such is the peace I find there.

Office

Study – the only room in the house that needs a little bit more shuffling before everything finds its place.

The most recent change, and probably the ciliegia on top of my zen-living torta, has been the greenifying of the balcony; Mothership coming into her own yet again by sending me back from the UK with a car full of plant pots, seedlings and corms; all of which were duly planted out and are now thriving fit to bust – filling the air with smells that will hopefully result tempting enough to lure in a butterfly or bumblebee or two…

The room where peering out of the window often takes the place of getting things done. Ooops.

A couple of lavender plants, two colourful fuchsia, some pinks and a lemon thyme joined the already established throng of strawberries, chives, mint, parsley, rosemary, oregano, straw flowers, basil (and two other things I can’t recall the name of) during the Mothership’s visit, and I now boast a balcony fit for, if not a king, Monty Don at least.

Herbs ‘n strawbs ‘n stuff.

So there we have it, folks, Chez SV et Pooch in all its pretty-much-completed glory, and hopefully all geared up to be a happy home to SV and Pooch for a very long time to come 🙂

Pooch posing on his newly floral balcony…

This is Status Viatoris, feeling enthusiastic about all things domestic and more disinclined to take back up her wanderlust baton than she has ever been, in Italy.

Bogeying Down With The Babies

12/03/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Scrummy plumpitude…

As people who have “Liked” the Status Viatoris Blog Facebook page, or those who follow me on Twitter, might have noticed, I have on several recent occasions been called upon to help out at the local “nido” or nursery.

High chairs for diddy peeps…

In most of Italy, free schooling starts at three-years old with the “asilo” or “scuola materna”, before the children go on to junior school aged six. For those who require childcare before then, there is usually the paying option of some sort of nursery.

At the moment our nido (lit. nest) boasts a frankly edible selection of tots; two fifteen-months olds – an Italian boy and an Albanian girl, nicknamed Romeo and Giulietta; so enamoured are they of each other; as well as another five kiddies (three Italians, an Albanian and a Romanian) between the ages of twenty months and two and a half years old.

Little chairs and little tables…

My tasks when present could not exactly be described as onerous; unless that is the ideal word to denote cuddling squirmy little bods, assisting with the posting of plastic shapes into correspondingly shaped plastic holes, posting pasta into eagerly gaping mouths, wiping teeny noses, and occasionally breaking up scraps between minuscule human beans who weigh less than Pooch (although they are often considerably snottier).

On those days I am summoned, I arrive promptly at 9h30 in the morning – some of the children will have already been harassing the main nursery nurse since before 8h – and don my fake crocs before facing the throng.

Little lavs for little bums…

For the following hour we romp merrily round the playroom, building Lego towers with really big Lego, calling each other on plastic mobile phones and posting plastic shapes into correspondingly shaped plastic holes. Occasionally the older children are occupied with more exacting tasks like colouring or drawing, whilst the babies coo and peck at each other in the playpen like lovestruck doves.

At 10h30 we migrate en masse to the bathroom; a Gulliver-like space equipped with tiny sinks, tiny loos and a tiny bench for tiny bottoms to perch whilst waiting for their turn on the potty.

Pooch grudgingly demonstrates the tininess of a nido bench…

Once bladders have been emptied, nappies changed and tiny hands washed in the tiny sinks, our charges make their way through to the dining room, where they plump down on their tiny chairs and wait for the first of the daily DVD renditions of Jo Jo (a strange little clown) or similarly animated forms of entertainment.

At 11h30, the tata (lit. nanny, and the name by which most Italian preschoolers address the non-family members who care for them) goes downstairs to the kitchen to collect the first course of the daily meal – usually pasta con sugo or al burro (pasta in plain tomato sauce or with butter) or minestra (soup).

Tiny beds…

Following the first course, all the children are give a small drink of water before being presented with their second course: cold ham with peas, breaded chicken breast with tomatoes or other such simple fare. Another drink of water is then given, before a small piece of fruit and an additional episode of cartoon capers, wooden puzzle or suchlike.

As 13h approaches, the little ones are taken one by one back to the bathroom to be stripped down their undies and given another spin on the potty, before being coaxed into a cot or one of the tiny beds in the dormitory next door – a flurry of fat, bare little legs flashing round the room as they attempt to avoid capture and somnolent-incarceration often ensues at this point…

Simply heavenly…

But eventually they are all snugged up under the covers: the two smallest babies alternately popping up and down meerkat-style in their cots, and Number One Tata goes in to settle them with a ninna nanna (lullaby) whilst I get on with sweeping and mopping up the ravages of lunch.

At that point I am usually set free from my childcare duties, but I have been reliably informed that the little angels kip for over two hours before being woken for another round of potty-sitting, a yoghurt and a game or cartoon before their parents arrive to collect them at 16h.

I can certainly think of worse ways to spend my time… 🙂

This is Status Viatoris, good practice for future maternal endeavours or an excellent contraceptive? Well that really depends on the mood of the day, in Italy.


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