We are a very active, very chatty, fairly non-stop family of five*. It seems a bit odd to describe us as ‘active’ and ‘non stop’ when we have chosen to spend a year or so in southern Tuscany, far away from the hustle and bustle of South East England; when we came on this adventure to slow life down, that meant slowing down the things we weren’t so fond of, rather than slowing down ‘us’!
From bottom to top (in size, at least), I am delighted to present:
La Principessa: as she is also known by her Italian fans is my pickle piccolina. Apt to forget she is only 18 months old, she wants in on all family action, be that trying to launch herself off the side of the adult pool, irrespective of who may or not be in the water to catch her, or making sure she has a slice of la torta at least the size of her siblings La Principessa requires only a few specific words in her vocabulary, namely ‘more’, ‘down’, ‘me’, ‘NO’ (said with a wagging finger) and ‘now’. Who needs words when your siblings answer for you and an imperious finger suffices to instruct? In any case, la Principessa 13 weeks in to the adventure, is already operating pretty well in Italian, smiling coyly when admired by doting Italian nonne, dipping her biscotti in latte when invited for colazione and already adept at pressing index finger into the dimple of the cheek when asked if her food is ‘buona’? (tasty). Adorable she certainly is, but I have a feeling I’ll have my hands full in a few years’ time.
P. He likes to pretend he feels hard done by, outnumbered as he is by girls in both our immediate and extended family and adopted family, but in fact he rather enjoys the ‘only boy’ status. Earnest and interested, 5 year old P. has a new passion every day. Recently he has mooted sincerely a range of future career options, from Emergency Service workers, to landscape gardener, to Roman gladiator to palaentologist. I often feel part of a very informed episode of Mr. Ben as daily P. assumes a new persona, usually substantiated by considerable knowledge as to the historical, social or occupational background of said personage. He also really likes hoovering, which is enormously helpful. P. insists he doesn’t speak Italian, but then proceeds to give me an overview of what his Italian-speaking teacher asks him to do at school in any one day…
H.-girl: At seven going on 17 (quick to correct me when I am wrong and very often right herself), H. is nevertheless through and through a good girl, letting rip only with Mamma and at home, when objectively – and after our fires have died down – I can empathise with her letting off steam after being so conscientious out and about. A mini-mummy, she dotes on La Principessa and is my right-hand woman when I’m on my own. Her maturity knows no bounds: favourite foods include combinations such as pear, gorgonzola and walnut and she has been keen to sample all ‘stagionate’ of the local Pecorino cheese. I can see that we will soon be going out for cappuccini together … and she has already started to borrow my jewellery.
Me, Amy (née Gibson): I’m the mad mamma who thinks it’s a good idea to bring three children to live on the edge of a hill where I know no one. And that being here with three children will be fine, even with Tom continuing to travel to and from London for work. And it is fine, albeit a little, ahem, intense at times. Friends out here call me ‘forsa’ and they are not far off the mark. I love the lingua Italiana lark, the sun and walking, writing. And food, particularly cheese.
Tom leads a double life, constantly in transit between Italy and London, where he is based for work. This is proving very helpful as he has become something of a food mule, bring over delicacies such as porridge oats which are fiercely expensive here, and which the children consume at an ever fiercer rate. Joking aside, he works from home regularly during which time we achieve a slightly more normal balance. As to the remaining 50% of time… it’s work in progress.
*When we started this adventure, we were a family of six, the sixth being our lovely Zephyr cat, who has followed our family path with us for ten years, but we sadly said goodbye to him three months in to our adventure.