#13: Bimbis & Festivals - preparations for Sagra del Pesce
I’ve now been to the nursery a few times and, if I say so myself, I’m quite the big-dog amongst the toddlers. I’d like to think its because they see something saintly in me but I think they just consider me a highly-developed three year old.
When I arrive at the nursery today, ready to get into those fetching white croc shoes, Barbara rushes over and tells me to keep my shoes on. Today, we're going outdoors apparently. We're going to the beach. There's a big festival this weekend - Sagra del Pesce and the Festival of San Fortunato - and its tradition for the children to get involved in some of the painting on the beach.
The thing you should know about Camogli is that its all hills and steps. You have to walk up a few dozen stairs to get anywhere, and in order to get from nursery to beach you have to walk across a bridge and three stone staircases.
We spend much of the first part of the morning making tags for the children, pieces of card with a mugshot and ‘property of the nursery’ scrawled over them, then the best part of an hour chasing the children around the rooms trying to get them to keep the things on.
After the saga of getting them dressed into jackets, sunhats and sunglasses, a few other teachers, myself and 25 toddlers make the slow descent from nursery to beach.
And slow it is.
We all hold hands in a single line formation and shuffle down the steps. Still in line, we all pigeon-step along the promenade to the beach. Onlookers coo and the children wave, in what is essentially a parade of the toddlers of the town. We may as well have whipped a megaphone out and announced 'people of Camogli! Look at your wonderful children! Look at how they walk, this is the next generation of the Camogliese!'
Of course all the Nonnas emerge from shops and houses to say hello and take photos of their little grandchildren, and I end up spending much time trying to bat away the elderly so as not to lose any toddlers along the way.
Once we get to the beach we have to undress them all so they don't boil to death and keep them occupied whilst groups of them go off to paint large wooden panels which will then be burnt in a huge bonfire on Saturday night.
Toddlers on a hot shingle beach is an experience I'd really rather not repeat. Lots of pebbles being thrown/pebbles in mouth situations, and far too many hot, hungry, crying Italian children.
Somehow, this episode made the local newspaper. The whole experience is now immortalised, my face forever emblazoned onto the Levante News website.