Scuola vacanza. Ferragosto. Call it what you will. You'd think we'd be familiar with Europe's penchant for it's summer holidays by now, after working in procurement year after year and having trouble every August because 'Europe alla vacanza!'
But we weren't ready and that's all there is to it.
At the beginning of June, we were happily attending our Italian classes when we noticed at the end of class one day that there was more joy than normal. The six students were wishing each other 'Buona Vacanza!'. Never really sure of what is going on around us, we assumed that one of the students was going on holidays. We also wished her a 'Buona Vacanza!'.
The following week, we turned up for our Italian lessons only to find that the shutters on the school windows were closed. We rang the front door bell. No answer. We loitered around for about half an hour wondering if the teachers were late. We even forced ourselves to have coffee at our favourite cafe to pass time until the teachers arrived. About an hour later, there had still been no 'movement at the station' as Banjo would say. We went home.
The next day, we lined up outside the school again at our allotted lesson time. Nothing. We went home.
Because we are commited to our Italian lessons, this went on for about 2 weeks before we decided we should be a bit more professional about this business called 'holidays'. We should find out when the Italian school holidays are and put an end to this weekly waiting outside the school like a couple of bitter parents planning to kidnap their respective children.
To our surprise, we found that the European summer school holidays are very long. Where Australians think of the long holiday as 'Christmas holidays', Europeans think of them as 'Summer holidays' and the short break at Christmas as 'Christmas holidays'. Hence our confusion. We simply didn't 'get' that it's all about Summer, not Christmas!
Our realisation about holidays occurred at the end of June. It is now mid August and the holidays aren't over until mid September...
In the meantime, work on the house is continuing but our Italian is deteriorating!
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