I write a lot about our travels in Italy, but it occurred to me that I haven’t really written about how we manage the kids in this new environment. They have just now (about 3 weeks after arriving) started to really get used to life here.
By now, we have figured out the little things, like what times the different markets and groceries are open (its all over the place, believe me), which fruit and vegetable stand has the best produce, what activities we have available to us on certain days, what time we can usually find other families at the park, how to Caroline proof the apartment, and how to hold a decent conversation in Italiano. This took a lot of exploration, a lot of determination, a lot of mental energy, a few tears (by both the kids AND me), and by default a few laughs when everything went wrong.
The best part about our transition has been our home here. We really love our apartment and the location. We have only one car that JW drives to work everyday, so the kids and I are left to walk to run errands, etc. It is not much different from what we do at home, except right now our home in Chicago is under about 500 feet of snow (I am obviously being dramatic…or am I?) while here it is very pleasant and sunny. We live on one of the main squares in Scandiano. Everything is pretty much within our immediate reach. This has been a godsend because on our bad days and the days we feel the most lost and isolated, a nice walk has helped to boost our moods! A smile from a stranger definitely helps as well!
We have a routine now, although the weekends bring unexpected changes because many times we try to go somewhere to see something new. On Mondays there is a market in Scandiano. It is the place to be and the whole downtown is covered in tents and vending carts. They sell everything from clothes to home goods to specialty foods. We enjoy slowly meandering through the stalls all morning like the rest of the townspeople, although I dream of doing this someday without the two kids in tow. Stores and most restaurants are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursday afternoons. Passiagata goes on everyday from 10 a.m. to roughly 1 or 2 and then begins again around 4 (at the earliest) and lasts until dinner around 8:00 p.m.
It is a different life, an eye opening life. The culture requires that you not feel as if you are an individual in the scheme of life, but instead one part of an interconnected web. I like that part, for that I am grateful. I do hope to pass this on to my children as well as the slow pace of life here. I am trying to adopt it myself, although it is one of the harder pieces for me to connect to. I have always been type A, efficient, organized and this culture is NONE of those. Maybe that is why I have been put here, to reorganize my way of thinking. It is a dramatic shift but a change that I welcome whole-heartedly.
So, slowly, we are turning a corner, understanding this new country, and making space in our hearts for this crazy wonderful experience.