Friday, May 21, 2010

Italy: sunny, sophisticated, stylish.

While France may have a rep for being sophisticated and seductive, our neighbor to the south takes the cake (or rather 'torta'). Though I often see dowdy French folks sporting faded jogging pants in our local supermarket on the weekend , I think it might be forbidden by law for Italian people to go out the door looking less than impeccable.

At least, that's how it looked to me- based on a one-day whirlwind trip to the north of Italy on Tuesday.

You may be wondering how I ended up cruising around the Val d'Aoste in a giant doubledecker bus bursting at the seams with 76 junior high kids?

Well, I'll tell you, I wondered about that myself as I struggled to open the window and get some relief from the hormonal whiffiness of a herd of 12 and 13 year olds mostly unacquainted with deodorant.

I also wondered that as I turned on my iPod about half an hour into the three hour trip to get there and the screen promptly froze. I had nothing with me to read. And I had nothing to listen to but the chattering and the squealing.....

(Mallory does love her candid shots. I was giving some rowdy kids my "Look of Doom". Don't I look like a crabby old thing? )

Not that they weren't nice kids. And not that I wasn't happy to be asked to accompany the twins' sixth grade class (and a few other classes!) on their trip to a Franco-Provençal festival being held in the tiny alpine village of La Thuile.

Hey! I figured. A free trip to Italy! What's not to like?

Well, it turns out there were a few things not to like, like the fact that it took so long to get there. We left at 7am and drove for three hours. Then we had to be back on the road by six . So we had had only eight hours of visiting for over six hours of travel..

But mostly it was fine and a good time was had by all.

The majority of the day was taken up by the festival. My twins (and all the other kids on the bus) study Savoyard a few hours each week as one of their language options. So, after they've been to French class, English class and German class, they head to the classroom of Monsieur B. He's the math teacher, but has a not-so-secret identity as an accordeon-playing Savoyard activist.

Savoyard is a local dialect that is slowly dying out and not getting any support from the French state, in contrast to the more prestigious dialects of Brittany and Alsace. The Franco-Provençal family of languages (to which Savoyard belongs) is found in a pretty small area and the speakers tend to stick together. So, our school was of many in the region invited to this big three-day festival.

-I'm going to stop here for now. Blogger is bugging out and refusing to let me post any more photos. I'll try again later tonight and tell you the rest of the story....


Joy said...

Oh, no! Did you get your iPod working again? Six hours of bus travel with no music sounds like every field trip I was on growing up on the Prairies. (Do the French have an equivalent travel song to "99 bottles of beer/coke/? on the wall"?)

I can't wait to read the rest of the story. :)

oreneta said...

Truth be told, I though you looked strong and interesting.

Looking forward to more.



babzee said...

I want to hear more, too! BTW, I know where all the frumpy Italians are. They were shipped to NJ about 110 years ago. I married one.

Kelly said...

I went on a field trip with 2nd graders and forgot to bring something to read. It was just an hour or so to get there, however. I'll take Italy any day over a dairy farm! You must be a cool mom for your twins to want you along. :)

The Pliers said...

They were all fortunate to have you along––Look of Doom and all!