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rome + my complicated life

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 I need to tell you something...

Last year, I had a parent/teacher conference in the local Italian school. When I asked my daughter's teacher how my little girl was doing, she replied,
“Well, Signora, she's never going to be a writer.”
The words hit me like a freight train.
I swallowed and kept listening. She got 6 our of 10 for her Italian, a grade I was reassuringly told was normal for bi-lingual kids. We had spent a fortune on a private tutor to help with grammar and to be honest, to help with understanding what the Italian school system requires from a student. There seems to be more interest in spelling and grammar than in creative content. You can be as boring as buggery but as long as the grammar is perfect, you'll get a 10!

Signora Rossi's words tormented me for days while my daughter struggled on in her written Italian but eloquently expressed herself in English. My husband and I knew we had to do something. So we took the momentous decision of sending our daughter to an International school where she could learn to write in English.

The next challenge was where to find such a school. We knew we would have to look outside Tuscany and that life was about to become much more complicated.

Eventually, we found a school in Rome that both our children loved. So during the week, we live in Rome and on holidays and weekends, we go back to our farm. I'm not going to say it's easy. Trying to run a farm from a distance is a Gargantuan task. I know every gas station and landmark from Rome to Sansepolcro. I tell everyone it takes 1 ½ hours but it doesn't. It takes two full hours, and that's on a good day. But it's not just the travel that's challenging, it's also coming to terms with life in suburbia. We live in a place that can be best described as Desperate Housewives meets Middle-earth! A place where the Hobbit meets bad botox and enhanced bosoms!

So Yes, we are all in a period of cultural adjustment; especially me. I have discovered a brave new ex-pat world, a veritable Pandora's box of eccentricity. A world where I can understand every nuance and subtly of my mother tongue, nothing is lost in translation. A rather portly English lady asked me:
“Where did you go to University, dear?”
“U.C.L.” I replied.
“Oh jolly good! But when?  You look so young...?”
“Oh years ago. I'm 43. It must be all that olive oil I produce. Keeps me young!”
“No dear, I think it's because you dress like a teenager!”
Mmm, I mused, got that message loud and clear!

On the upside, I can now share Rome.  Spectacular, stunning, romantic, passionate -  an epicure's paradise.

Look what I'm really asking you to do is to update my profile.  I'm no longer the simple chick you thought you once knew, I'm more complicated.  I'm the schizophrenic Tuscan farmer who oscillates between Arcadian tranquility and Roman chaos!  Share on Facebook
linda buchanan 23/09/2012
just found your page and im going to try out the the whole journey you and your family are on.blessings
Penny Sadler 27/06/2012
Kate I don't know anything about schools in Italy but your stories are always interesting. I am also quite relieved to learn that bad botox and boob jobs exist outside the USA. :) One thing I do know, your kids will benefit from the experience of knowing Rome. Good luck!
Debi Harper 02/06/2012
How you are living your life is absolutely amazing! What you and your husband are doing for your children is amazing and unselfish! We need more of that in the world today and it would be a better place! The best to you and yours and thanks for sharing,I hope you will continue! You have made me feel good today just reading this. :)
Janet 11/05/2012
It takes true devotion to your children to pull off what you are doing, but I give you tons of credit. I think you will find the experience rewarding, even if at times it seems more exhausting. I taught at an American school in Europe, and I heard from the locals that grammar is more important than creative thought in the primary years. If the commute to Rome is more than you wish to take on in the future, perhaps you would consider a virtual school. Does England offer such an option? Best of...
Kim Marie 11/05/2012
thank you for sharing your story, it put a smile on my face, from one dedicated Mother to so many other Moms!! Enjoy your Mother's Day in your busy city and country, too.
Di Kennard 11/05/2012
It takes a lot of love and courage to do what you have done! Enjoy your journeys download some talking books on your ipod and catch up on all of the reading (without the trouble of reading) It is all perfect and think of the tales you can tell your grandchildren. Brava signora!
Anne Morgan 11/05/2012
To live your life seems like a dream come true. Just think of all the art, culture, and language your children are experiencing!!! A gift that will stay with them for ever. I have been to your world and so wish that my children will be able to see Italy and all it's splendor!!! Amore il tuo blog e mi auguro che la giornata รจ bella come L'Italia
Pernille 11/05/2012
I will come to see your farm some day not so far into the future. If you have the time then for a chat I have stories that would lift your spirit. You have to THINK as you once did.......:" what do they know"...had you listened to that nonsense you wouldn't be in Italy at all. You have a creative daughter....she has a wonderfully spirited mother...and hard keep smiling chickie!! Life IS what you think it is....for you to form, create and enjoy! (^_^)
Pamela Tish 11/05/2012
I, too, grew up in Italy. I attended an ancient Italian school, run by nuns. I still have my books... all of the "notebooks" were on a type of "graph paper"... squares instead of lines. Of course, we were literally sill dipping pens into inkwells at the time... the late 1960's. It's a different world, but I cherish the experiences. As a teacher myself now, I feel confidently that the experience was more valuable than the actual education. Transitioning BACK to the US after five years was much...
Silvia 11/05/2012
Dear Kate, I can't even begin to tell how much I understand your struggle with the Italian school system... I grew up in Italy and went to Italian schools and it shocks me that since I graduated high school in 1994, things seem to have remained stale and sterile... Yes, perfect grama will equal a 10/10, creativity and personality are not regarded as talent...and this is the country that gave the world Verdi and Puccini! I can tell for sure that had I remained in Italy, I would not have a career...
Laura Thayer | Ciao Amalfi! 11/05/2012
No dear, I think you're simply amazing! :-) You and your husband have made a huge life change for the best of all possible reasons. I do hope you'll keep sharing about your life - both in Rome and on the farm! Warm wishes from the Amalfi Coast, Laura
Shannelle 11/05/2012
I think your blog is divinity!

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