After all the good byes in Ireland, and the emotional mammy in the airport, I finally got on my way to Italy!
My first moments were walking alone through the small arrival gates of Bologna Airport looking around like a lost puppy. I heard Simone (Host Family Dad) calling my name, and holding a sign like in a movie with my name. With him was Pietro or Peter, the 5 year old. The first few minutes were awkward enough, but once we got to the car it was okay.
It was a long enough drive for my first time meeting this man, an hour and a half in a hot car to be honest, but he was nice and tried his best to speak the whole way and show me important points around the area etc. He showed me a quick look around the village when we arrived (it was a lot smaller than I expected), and then we headed on to the house, up a big hill, where I met Federica (host mom), Matteo (2 year old), and Gaia (the cute little baby girl, 7 months old). We went inside and I got a tour starting with my floor (yes, my own floor). It is a lovely modern, clean and big room, which consists of my own sofa, bed, en-suite bathroom, walk in wardrobe, and desk with internet access. The window of the bedroom looks out directly over the hills of the Apennine mountains.
On the main floor is the spare bathroom, the playroom, the living/dining room, the kitchen and the ‘office’ space also. It is all entirely open plan with glass sliding doors for the kitchen and playroom. It is again, so modern and with fabulous decorations. The house also consists of full length ceiling to floor windows which fill the rooms with natural light. The ground floor is where all the families bedrooms are, their personal bathroom, the pantry and the garage.
My first night here was spent mainly by organizing my room, making my bed, meeting and spending time with the family and getting to know them all. For dinner we had a lovely pasta with tomato sauce, followed by chicken salad. It was all very good, but I have noticed that Italians really are missing the whole ‘salad dressing’ thing!
Sunday consisted mostly of the same thing, getting used to the children, to the house, the family etc. Then at 5pm, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all came over for the birthday celebrations of Pietro (5th Birthday). It was nice, but I felt very awkward, with everyone speaking Italian (I know, Im in Italy what did I expect), but they all really tried hard to communicate with me and involve me, which was nice and welcoming! I just sat back, relaxed and listened to everything going on around me.
Monday, again similar but my first proper day! We went for a walk around the
town village, San Polo d’Enza, saw where important things were, such as the swimming pool, track, playground, supermarket, fruit and veg store, etc. It was nice, but it is very very small! The walk to the village was easier than coming back…they live up a pretty big hill (Im gonna be pretty fit when i finish here).
Tuesday was nice, we went to the nearby CITY of Reggio Emilia, and wandered around the markets, and spent time in some shops and had a generally nice day! We had lunch with a friend of Federica andalso with her sister. It was such good value, and really yummy also!
On Wednesday, I got to experience what it was like to make real home made italian pasta with Federica’s mum. It was so much fun! After all the pasta was stretched out, it was left to harden a little bit then cut into tagliatelle. After a while of that setting to become a little hard, we ate it! We had ragú which was really nice, it is so much better than pasta purchased in a packet!
Thursday was a big day, I went by myself to Reggio Emilia, by train! It was super scary as I didn’t know the stops, I didn’t know the train station, nor did I speak any italian to ask anyone for help if I got lost! After that little panic of the train was over, I finally got to where I needed to go and met Cheyenne (Shy Ann) and we wandered around the city, I bought an Italian phone, we got lunch, planned for the weekend and went on our separate ways! I got my return train ticket (and it still hasn’t been checked – 3 journeys later).
Friday was spent in the families home in Rossena (further and higher up in the hills). It was supposed to be an awful day out, it was cloudy and overcast, but I went anyway forthe experience! The house was located directly under neath a lovely old castle. It was a fabulous house (although it was tiny) but really really nice! It was all decorated, designed, planned etc by the family (The grandmother is an architect, and the grandfather an engineer) so it was really fabulous! Every single inch of space was used in the best possible way, to make the most of every corner! It turned out to be a lovely day, and we had a barbecue in the garden followed later by gealato. After sitting in the sun for about a hour and a half, I realized I didn’t have suncream on, so I looked a little like a tomato for 2 days (not so good).
On Saturday morning I managed to drag myself out of bed for 6am in order to go to FLORENCE for the weekend with 4 other Au Pairs in the near by area! It was amazing, we all had such a good weekend and met some lovely people on Saturday night! We stayed in 2 separate hostels, as we booked quite last minute, so 3 of us stayed in Ciao Hostel (which was so beautiful, like a hotel nearly), and the 2 other girls stayed in Florence Dance Hostel (I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst nightmare). I was so happy with my decision on Ciao, for the 3 of us, as the other hostel was disgusting, almost like it was in an apartment block or something. There was an awful smell, it was dirty, the sheets didn’t match, the room was tiny and there was 3 sets of bunks in it and a small sofa.
We had an amazing time in florence, and I cannot wait to return some day! We saw all the fabulous sights to see, including Duomo, Statue of David, the Bridge, and also got the bus to the Piazza di Michelangelo, where we experienced the best, most breathtaking view in the city!
All in all, it was a massive adventure, and I loved every second of it!
Stay tuned for more travel blogs over the next while