I have so much to tell you! We spent one of the best weekends in Italy, it was awesome! We somehow managed to meet almost all our relatives, including my sister C on her graduation day and that was the best Christmas present I could ask for. We, of course, had some very tasty food, the traditional Panettone and a few glasses of Prosecco with almost every meal. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
First of all, I should write about our little adventure with the flight. We booked a very early flight, the first one that was leaving from London in the morning at 6:20 am. The aeroplane was supposed to land at 9:20 am in Venice, where we had to meet L’s parents and then drive to my sister’s university. That way we would have made it just in time for the graduation that was scheduled at 10:40 am. It was the perfect plan.
In order to be at the airport one hour before the flight, that is around 5 am, we had to take a train at 4 am. I checked the timetable on the Stansted Express website and saw that there was only one train leaving from Liverpool St Station (a station in the city centre) at that ungodly hour, only during the week from Monday to Friday. Now, that’s what I read. I also sent a screenshot to L and that’s what he read as well.
We took a taxi to Liverpool St Station in the middle of the night, arrived there just in time to find out the station was closed – and along with us, another 40-50 people. If you look at the timetable, it actually says the train runs on Monday AND Friday only, therefore not on Thursday. Apparently, according to the staff at the station, every morning on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there’s a whole group of people that show up but there’s no train.
Thankfully, we spoke to the other people that were in our same situation and ended up sharing an Uber to the airport with a very nice guy from Naples. We made it just in time thanks to a lovely driver called Mohammed and we (L, the guy from Naples and myself) all celebrated our Christmas adventure with a shot of Espresso Baileys (with whipped cream on top) at a duty-free stand.
At 6:24 everyone was sat on the plane, the door was shut, the luggage was in the overhead lockers when the crew told us the flight was delayed by one hour – they actually said 10 minutes but we only took off an hour later. We, therefore, missed the graduation ceremony at the university, but we made it in time to join everyone for lunch at a local restaurant. I waited for my family, my relatives and friend to have a seat, then made my grand entrance. My sisters had no idea I was going to be there so they all stood up to hug me and started to scream out loud, it was an unforgettable moment. That lunch to us represented our early Christmas dinner as both our parents were there, as were my sisters, my brother and my brother in law. I felt blissfully happy that day.
On that same evening, we managed to meet L’s cousin who recently graduated as well, while on the following day we met L’s nonna. We showed her the photos and videos our friends took at our wedding and also a few from Madagascar. We also helped a little bit around the house and by the time we finished, we were exhausted.
We then spent the night with a group of friends at a birthday party in Padua, a city close by. When the birthday party was over, we had a drink (namely, a coffee) with the birthday girl in a proper Irish pub with wooden interiors and Guinness signs, then drove for two hours during the night to reach my hometown.
I don’t recall driving through the night before, it was a truly magical experience. Myself, L, the music on the radio (RTL 102.5, my favourite Italian radio) and the road. No traffic, just the darkness of the night and a few lights. When we arrived home towards 2 am, my father woke up to open the gate for us while our dog gave us the most heartwarming welcome, as usual.
The reason we drove all the way to Brescia was to meet my relatives from the States who decided to join the Italian family for the holidays. On Saturday we had another early Christmas lunch with them at my grandparents’ place, where they are currently staying. A few other uncles, aunties, cousins and sisters of mine stopped by for a coffee so we ended up greeting almost all my relatives on my father’s side in a day.
After all the good food and wine we had, driving back to Chioggia to then catch our flight was a bit of a challenge. I had to stop for a double espresso on the highway not to fall asleep, it worked. By the way, the coffee you drink on the highway in Italy is always among the best in the country, somehow.
We are now back in London, truly happy for the Christmas lunches and dinners we had with our extended family. I especially love how my family makes me feel special whenever I see them, through hugs and kind words of love. As I age, those are the words I want to remember. As my father always said, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right, as long as we have each other.
Happy holidays everyone!
PS: Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog this Christmas!