I've started learning Italian once a week at an evening college and I am really enjoying the whole experience. My aim is to learn for a year and save up so that in a years time, I can do a tour of both Italy and the Greek Islands...sounds very romantic. So why Italy ?
I was thinking about this the other day and also today....I had my dad stay last night visiting from the country ( Gunnedah) as he had picked up a new Citroen, having traded in his collapsed old one which had been towed down to Sydney. I asked him how I happened to end up in an Italian Hospital at the age of 6, on the Isle of Lido ( Venice) and what we as a family had been doing prior to when I got sick?
When I was 6 we lived in England for about 18 months while my Dad did his internship for dentistry in a local hospital to get experience. We attended a local convent school just near Surrey East Molesey near where we lived. Our house backed onto a mote which had a common grassland across from it. We had a picket fence which bordered the back mote so none of us ( four kids ranging from 3-7 years old) would fall in.
The two groups of photos show our family back when we were young and in convent uniform on the right and the second group of photos show my Dad in the front and backyard of our old house in England with his old dental nurse. In the background is the mote and adjacent common. As the back fence has now been taken down the family had a net handy for their cat...just incase it fell in!.
Anyway getting back to the story...before we settled down in England, my parents decided to explore the area around England by going on a camping holiday. They drove my Dad's infamous citroen car into France, across to Switzerland and then on to Italy. As the banks in England could only give out about 30 pounds per day...for a family of six ( Mum, Dad, Simon, me, Tim and Tanya) this did not leave a lot of left over money for unexpected expenses. So how did I end up with pneumonia in Italy?
Apparently on our travels we had visited a number of interesting places and we had gone swimming in a lake near the coast when the weather had, had a cold and rainy snap and I must have caught a chill. My parents found Switzerland far too expensive and the Spanish coast was flooded. Most of the camping grounds were also flooded and had bad mosquito problems due to the stagnant rain ( they even used to use aerial spray insecticide spraying it over the camping grounds) and so they headed south to the warmer climate which meant going on to Italy.
I had a bad cold and with the combination of rainy weather and living in and out of a tent, this turned into pneumonia. I was then hospitalized for two weeks, couldn't speak a word of Italian apart from the word "Aqua" which meant I needed a glass of water, and quite a scary experience.
My parents also were having a hard time trying to pay for the hospital as only getting 30 pounds per day did not go very far. I do recall the hospital had a rattley trolley which would start at one end of the ward and wind it's way up to my bed. Having experienced one injection from this nurse who wheeled the trolley....you can imagine ...by the time it arrived I was hyperventilating from fear of getting another injection so would be crying and carrying on.So Italy does not hold pleasant memories, apart from the glittering yoyo I got as a present in hospital. Anyway I survived the experience, my parents paid the bill and this story lives as part of history!
There are other factors which have influenced my choice of learning Italian, studying art in year 12 and the movie "Room with a view" and the beautiful art of florence, the book by Bryce Courtenay about his sick son who visits the Trevi Fountain for his last holiday, the fact that my daughter went recently with her friends and loved the Italian coast line and my son learnt Italian at school. I like the romantic sound of the words, I watched an Italian lifestyle cooking course on two DVD's by Chef Giada De Laurentiis and cooked special delicious meals for a month, I read "Eat Pray Love" and liked the sound of her visit to Italy and all the pizza she ate ( apart from the fact that she needed new jeans a size larger!). I also read another book recently called " The Shoe Maker's Wife" by Adriana Trigiani in which the scenery of the villages and the simplicity of convent life had an appeal. The picturesque vineyards, villages and art filled scenery of the countryside.
They say all roads lead to rome so I am hoping that in a years time i can "mangiare,pregare,dire, pregare and viaggio" eat,pray,say,love and travel in Italy to make up for my not so good experience as a child!