Sunday, April 11:  Easter

Salami plus cheese at breakfast. Yumm.

I told the boys that the Easter Bunny had planned an Italy stop before beginning on the East Coast of the US, and the Italian tradition was to begin the hunt after breakfast. They bought none of it, but were anxious to head upstairs all the same.

Each got a phrase book and an initial clue in Italian, leading to the location of the subsequent clue, and so on. For David the clues were lampada (lamp), vestiti (clothes, i.e. closet), battere a machina (to type, i.e. computer), prenotazione (reservation, i.e. the front desk). For Robert, vasca da pagno (bathtub), balcone (balcony), telefono (telephone) and prenotazione (reservation, i.e. the front desk). Downstairs they found their large chocolate eggs. David was particularly appreciative. Back to their own room, they unwrapped the decorative foil and cracked them open, Robert smashing his on his forehead when his front teeth failed to do the job. The toys were not particularly exciting or appropriate, but it didn’t matter. They’d made no complaints about the apparent lack of an Easter egg hunt and both appreciated the gesture. (Photo 24)

We left at 10 AM for Easter Sunday mass in San Gimigiano. I dropped everybody at one of the northern gates, drove south along the city wall past one closed parking lot after another, then down the hill to park along the side of the road. On the walk into town, I consulted Rick and popped into a small trattoria to see about lunch. They were open and empty. With the obvious crowds milling about, I inquired about reservations. Some discussion ensued, and a pad of paper was enlisted, to finally agree that we would hustle out of mass and try to be there at 12:15, since they had a long list of reservations for 12:30 already.

San Augustino Church was at the far end of town, but I had plenty of time to make the 11 AM mass in English, held in a pretty, simple chapel off a courtyard adjacent to the main church. The Scottish priest had a great sense of humor and quickly made all the visitors welcome, supplementing the few English-speaking regulars that live nearby. We were grilled about our home towns and the responses included Scotland, England, Washington, D.C. and Australia. He used this information in his remarks to emphasize the world-wide community of the church. For me, it was an ample demonstration of the descriptor “Catholic.” Adult volunteers were solicited for the readings, and David was volunteered to light the pascal candle partway through the service, a task he performed admirably. The boys also dug into their pouches to contribute an offering during the collection without any parental suggestions or coercion. (Photo 23)

Photo 23  Easter Offering
Photo 24  Easter Eggs
The service went quickly, which allowed us a chance to chat with the priest afterward and still power-walk to our lunch reservation. Trattoria Chiribiri seats about twenty-five people, but our table was waiting for us, and the owner greeted me by name like an old regular. Pasta for the males, wine for Pat (still stuffed from dinner the night before) and dessert all around. My wide noodles in a wild-boar sauce was reminiscent of my chili on noodles (though not spicy) and was excellent. The three tiramasu’s (tiramasi?) disappeared very fast, while I tried to make my cooked cream with chocolate sauce last as long as possible.

Back at the hotel around 2 PM, we found Easter lunch/dinner in full swing. No parking spaces left, tables in the lobby, tables in front of the elevator, tables outside. Right now its now 5 PM and only now is it breaking up. I’m sitting by the open french doors on a sunny Sunday afternoon, watching the occasional cyclist leave Certaldo for the scenic climb to San Gimignano as they pass the vineyard across the road, old Certaldo in the distance. David and Robert found bicycle racing on TV, and I believe I’m watching Paris-Roubaix (with Italian commentary) or at a minimum some other spring classic in Belgium or northern France. I wonder if they’ll be serving dinner today? Off to supervise some homework. . . Robert and I inquired about a playfield for a little soccer and walked a quarter mile up the hill to a church with a small soccer field with a couple of little goals. Long passes, punting, long-distance shots on goal, angle shots on goal and corner kicks comprised the practice. Then back for more homework.

Pasta course and dessert for dinner, biscotti, marinated grapes and antipasti without ordering. Leaning Tower of Pisa tomorrow.