I am sitting at the desk, listening to the rhythmic hum of cars, trucks and motorino's gliding by. Ten feet away, my son is having his mid-morning nap, cuddling up to his Hungry Caterpillar toy and wrapped warmly in sheets, blankets and soft padding woven inbetween the bars of his cot. Incoherent chatter wafts from downstairs along aromas of homemade pasta, cakes, roasted vegetables, chicken and freshly sliced deli meats.
Doors are opened and closed, many shuffling footsteps sound and clink-clanks of utensils on pots and pans during cooking and washing.
On the 10th of February 2010 my son, my partner and I got on a plane bound for Italia. About a week ago we arrived here in Bovolone, a town with a population of 15,000 that resides just 20 minutes drive south of Verona.
Bovolone is as old as most towns in Italy and like most towns in the world, has strong characteristics of its own.
Warm amber coloured paint coats atleast one in 10 buildings. People say 'Va Bon' instead of 'Va Bene'. The furniture, 'i mobili' hand-crafted here in Bovolone is imported all over the world, as its fine sculpted artistic quality can stand proud beside any precious antique pieces.
The handful of times I've gone for a stroll down the main street, which we live on, I am met with many friendly faces, smiles and greetings. 'Foto' they say, amongst other dialect words I can't decipher, noddng and grinning away and I understand that they recognise me from the photo that Giuseppe's parents have displayed in their shop.
Giuseppe's family are well known in the town as they run the local 'Gastronomia'... hmm I'm not sure if that's spelt right. No it's not a stomach illness but Gastronomia means a shop boasting delicious nutricious freshly cooked and prepared food. People come to their shop from as far as Milano, (two hours drive away,) to purhase a package of gnocchi, homemade salami, or the crispiest chicken schnitzels (cottolette)you can find.
Living in the same building as a Gastonomia - dangerous, you may think? Perhaps. I told Giuseppe's mum to lock up the shop at night incase I am so inclined to do a midnight raid. However, that being said, since arriving in Italy, I have been to the gym four times, gone on a handful of hour long walks and played tennis, (or tried to play something that somewhat resembles tennis... patience please while I learn...)
Have I eaten an entire tray of crispy cottolette? (chicken shnitzels.) Nope. I restrict myself to one a day alongside a mountain of spinach and or salad and other cooked vegetables. The veges are always there, always ready to eat. I've been drinking water. Half a glass of wine a day, if any.
It suddenly all seems easy again, like it was before my weight increased by a third during pregnancy. The gym is 25 metres away from home. Tennis courts are 10 minutes walk away. The main street is interesting to walk along, always bustling with people going to and from a variety of shops.
Valentino has taken to bike rides, (the trainer bike that we control with a handle at the back,) and enjoys getting outdoors as much as I do. He is now eating chicken, ham, (prosciutto cotto,) cheese, polenta, (corn meal cooked to perfection,) and loves chewing on fresh bread rolls. He is basking in the admiration of everyone around him, from family to strangers at the shops: 'Ma, che bello!'. He waves at them and does high five or 'batte cinque' and laughs and smiles. He stands without wobble now and moves fluidly around furniture, steady on his feet. He seems to have aged a month in a week.
Giuseppe has started working already, fixing PCs. It didn't take long for the town people to hunt him down as soon as they realised he was back. He is already renowned here for his skills as an IT Technician.
There are schools in Verona where I don't need to know Italian well, I can teach English to adults and get by on my limited Italian. I just have to translate my CV and start researching for opportunities.
Today we are going to catch up with Giuseppe's best friends Marzena and Raffaello, (brother and sister,) and Raffaello's wife Karolina. Looking forward to it.
Will keep you posted.
Here, it's all OK = tutto posto.