Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back to School, and the Visit of Graziella and Ilaria

In October, Melanie and I returned to the Koine Language school, Melanie for 1 week and me for 2 weeks.  Koine is where we’d started our language lessons way back in April.  After a quick language test on the Monday morning, both of us were placed in different classes, but one level higher than the one in April - most reassuring.

Classes are a fun way to learn Italian and meet new friends at the same time.  Melanie’s class consisted of 5 Australian friends who were adding a bit of study to their travels around Italy, a Dutch girl, two Americans and a Brazilian! While my class of 4 had a Swedish woman and 2 German women. My teacher Stefano, who is a co owner of the school, is very knowledgeable about well, almost everything – he’s a qualified sommelier, speaks 4 languages and worked a few years in Germany – in fact, he’s quite Germanic in character when we're struggling to conjugate verbs.....
At the end of Melanie’s week, we arranged a lunch for some of the students at a favourite restaurant of ours, La Bottega delle Cose Buone – this quickly grew to lunch for 17 and was a great success.
During the fortnight we made a new friend in Bettina, a newly married girl from my class, who we caught up with a few times while she was in Lucca to share meals, gossip about the school, and discuss the different cultural differences between Australia, Germany and Italy!

After Melanie finished her week of classes, we welcomed Graziella, my cousin who lives in Trieste, and her 20 year old daughter Ilaria, who came to Lucca to visit and stayed with us for the week. Ilaria, like my brother Ilario, is named after our uncle who was killed during the war in his hometown in 1944.

It was great fun to socialize with relatives, learn a bit about each other's lives, and what it’s like to be Italian in this wonderful country – economic crisis and all!



We showed them the sights of Lucca, including climbing up the Guinigi tower, which offers a panoramic view of Lucca.


Graziella reminds me of my (departed) sister Sandra, especially the time she suddenly sprang up off our loungeroom couch, trying vainly and comically to catch a fly that was buzzing around the room.


The weather was sunny and cool for most of the week, until the last couple of days when it rained on and off.  Of course this was the day we’d planned a trip to Pistoia, which funnily enough Melanie and I hadn’t yet visited.  Well, what a surprise – a refined historical centre crowned by a splendid cathedral including a Della Robbia ceramic - one of our favourite Renaissance artists.

Also in Pistoia, of all things, was a touring French market selling all things French.  Well, after 6 months of Italian food, Melanie and I were in seventh heaven – we bought a baguette, some camembert, pain-au-chocolat, even some clothes! 


Later, the four of us had a casual lunch of cassoulet (sausage and bean stew) and other French goodies.  Here’s a photo of us tucking in to lunch!


Another day, we went off to Pisa to make sure the tower hadn’t decided to fall over (it hadn’t).

During the week, we shared many meals and happy memories with Graziella and Ilaria and we look forward to seeing them again soon in Trieste!

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