I rather lost the will to jot all these Italy posts down, but need to, so we can look back on our holiday. So where were we? Goodness knows but I'm going to cut to Parma. Wonderful Parma. We arrived one evening when everything was slowly coming back to life after the long quiet afternoon. The first thing that struck me was how beautiful the pastel shade buildings were. There seemed to be more variety and always pastel. That obviously hadn't been the case until now, because I'd been studying buildings, doorways, general architecture, even the stones the roads and paths were made with and not noticed a town or city with so many pastel shades before.
We had a stroll around Parma and spoke to a lovely man in their equivalent of tourist information. I asked him if he spoke English and I got the by now standard reply. 'A leetle'. A little will do me just fine because my please, thank you and expertise at ordering pizza isn't going to get me very far!
I asked him what he would do if he only had one day to spend in Parma and had two teenagers in tow. He said there was plenty! So we came away armed with lists and maps and suggestions for the following day in Parma. Once again he seemed fascinated by the children, and by now I'm wondering whether the Italians just love children or whether they are trying to work out whether they actually belong to us, one being ash blonde and the other being various shades of dark brown.
Sometimes the heat got to us and we found ourselves not always very hungry in the evenings. Our first night in Parma was like that. It was unanimously decided that we would try out the open air pallet wood cafe that had caught our eye on our arrival. I'm sorry to say this kind of thing really floats my boat. There were signs saying something about a community project so I can only guess it was some random initiative but what a brilliant one!
We settled down on the rough wooden trestle tables, ordered food (it was very slow but who cares?) and realised that some live singing was about to happen. Brilliant though M and I. Boring thought E and J. They didn't see the point in listening to someone singing ina language they didn't understand. Huh, welcome to my world! TV without subtitles, radio and songs without subtitles are just like listening to a foreign language for me, get over it. So I made them sit through as much singing as I could get away with.
At the beginning of every song was a very very very long speech/chat/interview by the singer or with the singer who may or may not have been telling everyone about her battle with cancer. When Ella suggested that and I asked how she knew she said that every now and then the word cancer in English would be said in the middle of a stream of Italian.
The amazing thing was that she had quite a lot of die hard fans. I say amazing because every song sounded the same to us. They were there with their fold up chairs, humongous bottles of wine and tiny movie cameras on tripods... and they knew every single word of every single song.
I'd had quite a lot of strong fizzy wine and began to feel quite happy. I swear a little fizzy wine is ideal for coping on holiday with the husband from hell (btw he left that ogre in Italy!). I started to really enjoy the music, swaying and joining in with any la la la bits (and there were quite a few). The kids grew increasingly embarrassed but hey, you only live once! It nearly all backfired when the singer turned herself towards me and sang straight to me. I was careful not to catch her eye after that! Tipsy or not! Later she pointed the microphone out to random people and they sang in Italian, phew! That could have been awkward! You can see one of the cameras on a tripod and the singer holding the microphone in one of the photos.
The evening had to come to an end much sooner than M or I would have liked and that was simply because we all needed the loo! There aren't many public toilets in Italy and the general way for men, it seems, is to pee up a wall or tree (it really whiffs in places) but there was no way I was going to allow M or J to do that. In fact with the general standard of toilets in Italy I was really quite upset about it by the end of the holiday. The last straw was a cafe with a hole in the floor. I nearly cried. It just didn't seem too much to ask to plumb in a damn toilet.