Hi, Ceci, Finn, Gus and Kieran!
I remember when Finn said, “You will be away for three months? That’s a long vacation, E.B.!” Like Ceci, Finn, and Gus, I’ve gone to school, but I also have a lot of vacation time. I will tell you about what we did one day this week after school
My teacher’s son, Ammon, had his 10th birthday party, and Ann and I were invited. I have been to many children’s birthday parties, but this one was very different for me.
Mommy and daddy know about French children (there was a book about them recently). Like the French, Italian adults seem “nonchalant” (mommy or daddy can explain!) around their children. Keep reading, to see what I mean.
When it came time to open his birthday presents, Elettra set them all on the ground, and Ammon just tore into them! He had great fun and received some wonderful gifts. I could tell he liked all of them: a large set of colored pencils, a big picture book about mythology, a nice pair of shorts; our gift – a Lego action figure – he really liked, too.
This video shows Ammon (dark black hair) and his pal Julio; they want to put together the action figure, so Ann is trying to open the plastic bag. His mother, Elettra, is there (her mouth is full of delicious Birthday Tart!), and so is Mauro, the director of our school. We really like Elettra and Mauro, and it was fun seeing them outside of school.
After the gifts, some of the kids grabbed pieces of the strawberry-and-cream birthday tart, but most of them preferred the tart topped with Nutella. For the rest of the party, they were around near us, or ran around the park, playing on their own. This short video shows one of the games they made up. Can you tell what they are doing?
The adults stood around chatting and eating tarts. Mauro had brought drinks. They were in recycled water bottles, so when he poured me a glass, I thought I was drinking bottled water…until I tasted the cool, dry white WINE!
We knew it was time to go when we saw Ammon’s little brother, Emilio (he is your age, Finn). He had fallen asleep in his mommy’s arms.
On the way home, we stopped to watch 2 alfieri practicing their flag-tossing. We have seen them and the other Siena alfieri many times, marching and twirling their flags. They have always been in their costumes. These are the two main flag-throwers for their contrada, which is called Onda, or “wave” – their colors are blue and white. About 30 other Onda alfieri march in front of them in the parades we have seen. The alfieri all start practicing when they are very young, about Ceci’s age, hoping to become THE BEST, like these two.
In this picture, they have just thrown their flags in the air. Sometimes they threw them way over the heads, other times they passed them under their legs, like daddy with a basketball. And they never missed! Their coach was sitting on the side. He seemed happy with their work.
Walking across the city to the apartment, we decided to stop for a gelato. It was time for the Passegiata, the time after dinner when everyone in the city goes out for a walk. I think mommy would like these shoes, don’t you?
A wedding had just taken place, too, so the bride and groom came to the Campo, Siena’s main piazza. The groom (pink jacket) is drinking a Spritz, a drink that Ann and I often enjoy on the Campo in the late afternoon.
As we ended our walk, we passed through the contrada where we live. It is called Selva (it means “forest,” and its colors are green and orange and white). They were having a party to open the contrada garden, so we joined them.