Lady Helen is one of those irritating people who rises early in the morning in a chirpy mood and expects everybody else to be equally keen to start the day. Much to her dismay her travelling companions did not jump up with any measure of enthusiasm but continued to snore and catch up on their sleep so they only set off to explore at 10:30 am.
Her ideas of a Banting Breakfast were soon squashed flat when they entered the corner shop and got croissants di cioccolato instead. And horror of horrors these were eaten in the street and on the hoof!
As they devoured their decadent pastries they walked the narrow, cobbled streets of the ancient city. There were so many interesting nooks and crannies to explore. Even the doors were interesting. The Admiral and Lady Helen were intrigued by a building that looked like a hospital but they discovered that it was a convent and a primary school. They entered the courtyard and a nun appeared. She invited them in to take a look. Lady Helen had, before leaving her homeland, learned a few Italian words and was able to tell the nun that she had been a First Grade teacher. “Io una insegnante – classe 1.” She couldn’t speak a word of English but they managed to get her to understand that they were from South Africa and she was more than willing to show them around the school. The men, feeling intimidated by the cloth, did not join them on this excursion.
It was, of course, school vacation so no children were about. But Lady Helen was keen to see the classrooms and wondered where the playground was – there didn’t seem to be any sports fields at all.
The good sister could not wait to take them to the chapel and she prattled away in Italian telling them about Saint Theresa, The Virgin and other saints. Of course they only caught a word or two but they nodded and commented in English as if they all understood each other perfectly. She then indicated that they should kneel in a pew and she blessed them uttering words that Lady Helen was sure meant “God is the Father of us all” “You are beautiful women and display the fruits of the spirit.”
The words Bella Signori, tutti and frutti dello spirito came into it somewhere so whether Her Ladyship interpreted it all correctly is debatable.
They left feeling they had experienced something very special in Italy and Lady Helen in particular was overjoyed to have seen an Italian Primary School.
They continued exploring till midday, marveling at the little holes in the wall they called shops and chatting to the locals who were extremely friendly but couldn’t understand a word of Inglese.
After eating a light lunch the four nobles went home for a siesta – while in Italy they did as the Italians did for doing otherwise would be crazy as everything shuts down for a few hours and then the fun begins again after five. Each evening they either catered at home or found a different restaurant on the Lungomare and enjoyed the fabulous Italian cuisine. Lady Helen was particularly partial to anything with squid, aubergine, artichoke, spinach or feta. If one of those ingredients were in it she’d eat it! And all the Italian wines were wonderful.