It’s been a little too long since I spent some quality time with my MacBook Pro, sitting outside looking at the Monte Serra in the distance thinking about writing to you children. When I look out to this unbelievably gorgeous mountain I can’t help but think of your daddy. You see this is the famous popular mountain that one must tackle as a cyclist in Lucca. The average local would attempt the Monte Serra Compito only about three times a year; well hubby dear averages this in a week! So it puts a smile on dad’s face whenever this mountain is mentioned, and this of course makes me happy. This mountain also supplies us with fresh water daily and we can also see the top of the mountain from our bedroom window. Dad says on a clear day you can even see the tower of Pisa from the top!
In between settling in and having an influx of guests (which has been awesome!) including nanna and nonno for a month, this place now feels like home. We have made some lovely Aussie friends with whom dad goes cycling with and a few months without any Aussie contact; it sure is nice sitting outdoors having a beer and a good old Aussie yarn. A lovely family with a little boy Zac who spent many hours playing with you all but unfortunately they are due to leave soon, so we will miss them!
Dealing with immigration for the first few weeks was an absolute nightmare, fancy not having one person speak any word of English! It is an immigration office for goodness sakes… Seriously!!! The paper work involved is sheer madness and the bureaucratic stuff behind it all is ridiculous. But as crazy as it sounds I really can only laugh and write about it and the reason behind the laughter is the realisation of how fortunate I feel to be where we are and doing what we are doing as a family. So I walk away, of course frustrated but it only takes me a few minutes to look around and absorb my surroundings. Everything we take literally for granted in Australia, like simply picking up the phone to make an appointment or re scheduling is extremely difficult here. You can’t call anyone, you have to physically go there and line up for who knows how long and at the end of the line there is usually a lady with a pencil, rubber and massive appointment book – it’s hilarious!!!! Lines anywhere and everywhere and boy do you need to keep your eye open for that little nana who will push right in front of you without blinking an eyelid! Ohhhh and the nona’s on the bicicletta…..very impressive, seriously some of them are ready for the grave but jeeeez they just don’t care – off they trot in the middle of the road as slow as a turtle and no one complains, well no local does anyway….arrrghghghg!!!!
However, one unbelievably great thing that has come out of visiting the immigration office is meeting a gorgeous woman named Stefania who is a local and born right here in Lucca and who just happened to be helping out some Aussies with translation. I felt an immediate warmth and connection with this lady and so she has been your trustworthy babysitter and my dear Italian angel. She is gorgeous, very sweet and so very helpful! She has made my transition into this wacky Italian lifestyle bearable and the days I feel overwhelmed with confusion and frustration she somehow makes it all ok. Stefania invites us to her family gatherings (which we love), anytime she goes out for a drink with her friends or dinner she invites me and I accept her offer graciously! She absolutely adores you children and more importantly you all adore her back, including you little Huddy …..normally a hard nut to crack! Ohhh my little man your attempts at speaking Italian – saying goodbye or goodnight – (arrivederci) adecheee mumma or (bounanotte) bun a not!!!! Melts my heart away!!!!
We have been cycling everywhere without any form of a motorized vehicle and it has been sooo much fun! We have these old bikes and new seats for you kids and we just go, go, go……vai vai vai. The weather has been simply perfect. (although one day we did get stuck in a serious storm and it belted down, Daddy and I looked at each other for direction and went arrrrgh bugger it!!!! So we rode through the rain singing!!!! It was magic, something we just wouldn’t normally do and of course you kids loved it! Little Hud you absolutely enjoy sitting up front on the bike and looking around and pointing at everything you find funny or fascinating. Like 20 cats sitting out the front of the one house or a wasp the size of a cow! Seriously we can’t believe the insects here and the mosquitos have literally eaten us alive! They are huge and scare the hell out of us, funny looking creatures that we have never seen before, huge and ugly and crawling around everywhere! The first few weeks, you would hear one of you scream from the top of our lungs after being scared by a pair of googly eyes looking directly at us or buzzing in our ears and you kids scream out du du du du mammmmmmmaaaaa! Dad even had to kill a little scorpion the other day! Think we are immune to them now and these creatures have become part of our daily living in Tuscany, amongst the fruit trees, cornfields and incredibly large mountains….