14th December 2008
This has been one of those weeks that gallops by relentlessly, leaving you with a need for a long lie in on Sunday and only a vague recollection of what actually happened.
The Monday holiday on the 8th shortened the week, giving us a well-received long weekend before the starting gun was fired for the run-up to Christmas. It was a very sociable weekend, Saturday evening out for dinner at an agriturismo with my son Giorgio’s class, and Sunday lunch spent with my new friends from South Africa who moved to Livorno this summer.
It was a gorgeous bright sunny day, one of those lovely Livorno winter days which so far have been a rarity this year. My friend Anel and her husband Giovanni were keen to invite us for lunch so both families could meet. Their hospitality was touching and we all got on so well. I ‘met’ them through Livorno Now when they were still in South Africa and needed advice about schools here for their 16-year-old daughter, Iva. They are living their dream of coming to live in Livorno with great optimism and enthusiasm and deserve loads of success and happiness.
After a long lunch, I left my family back at home in Montenero to watch the football results (some things are the same worldwide!) and ventured out again, this time to the Fortezza Vecchia to see the Springtime Choir – adults and juniors - performing their uplifting concert. Met up with several friends for a glass of vin brulé and a browse around the (disappointing) Christmas market in the fortress before grabbing a 5&5 at the Darsena pizzeria with Carol and then sitting back at the 4 Mori to watch the latest Mike Leigh film. Brilliant, even though it was in Italian.
Phew! I don’t usually have such a busy social life (yes, that is busy for me). The rest of the week was a whirlwind of the usual school, boys’ activities, shopping, cooking and work. There were a few highlights: a meeting at Livorno council where I found out about a project going on to involve school children in cleaning up Livorno’s graffiti (cheap labour?!)(article coming soon); a cup of tea and chat with my friend Karen when I delivered her Christmas pudding; and the discovery of a B&B – CASA ANNA - I didn’t know about in Antignano (coming soon on Livorno Now).
Yesterday afternoon, having realised that I had more Christmas shopping to do than I had thought, I headed into Livorno again, unperturbed by the pouring rain. It turned out to be a great afternoon. There were fewer people about than I had expected – perhaps to do with the weather, perhaps the ‘credit crunch’, or maybe people are just better organised than I am and have finished their shopping! I only hope they weren’t all crammed into our soulless hyper-market/shopping centre instead of enjoying the local shops which are much in need of trade.
There was a sparkly, peaceful atmosphere, the lights glistening in the rain, and a great band playing under the portico of the Cathedral in Piazza Grande – RICICLATO CIRCO MUSICALE – whose instruments are all made of recycled materials. Very clever, and very entertaining. I felt like dancing in the rain but was a bit weighed down with bags and umbrella. Instead, true to character, I went for a warming hot chocolate in Bar Duomo before continuing my shopping trek, and trek it was as I had parked my car about a mile out of town to avoid searching (and paying) for a car park. My arms were six inches longer by the time I got back and gratefully delivered all my bags into the boot.
Just one last stop at the supermarket to shop for today’s lunch with more friends, (I didn't get my lie-in!), and that has only recently come to an end. So life is not so bad!
Am I ready for another week? It’ll be seven days of school plays, football parties, and festive meetings that I could probably do without, but that's all part of the festive season. Two more kilos guaranteed.