It feels like an eternity since I was last in Italy and yet, on the other hand, it's almost like I never left. The emotional upheaval of leaving loved ones in Ireland, after settling into everyday life there for the first time in years, was soon replaced with frantic forward momentum. We flew from Dublin to Heathrow three weeks ago, and London was a full-throttle working week en route to Italy, gone in a blur of snatched reunions. We made our way to northern Italy, stayed in Bolzano for four days, where Ollie attended a conference, and I fell in love with the pristine Alpine air from the snow-dusted Dolomites surrounding the picturesque city.
Back when I lived in London, I did a few short courses at Morley College, an amazing adult education institution which offers a range of part-time courses in everything from flamenco dancing to anatomy. What started as a way to creatively fill my days off work, ended up resetting my trajectory and kick-started my jewellery adventure.
I've just spent my birthday in my childhood home for the first time in a decade, maybe more. Originally I had planned on being back in Italy by now, but we've pushed it back a few weeks because of work that needs doing in Ireland before we return. The work we are doing here will secure the second leg of our Italy trip, but is inevitably punctuated with some down time. When I'm not filing and polishing silver at my improvised jeweller's bench, I have mostly been colouring in, playing dress up and dancing around my old bedroom to long forgotten CDs with my favourite pair of five year olds.
One of the really nice things about being home in Ireland for Christmas is hearing stories from years ago. I thought I had heard all of them a million times over, but today my mother told me a new story of something heroic my Nana Murphy once did, which will leave a lasting impression on me.
My train journeys from Bologna to Florence and back are normally peaceful enough. I usually get the slow treno regionale from Bologna Mazzini station, a short walk from where we live, to Firenze S.M.N. station. The slow train stops all along the way and you have to change at Prato Centrale. The only occasional excitement, apart from the odd fare dodger arguing with the inspector,
While the focus of this blog to date has been largely on jewellery making in Florence, I think it's high time I dedicated an entire post to our Bologna base. There is a saying in Ireland, 'It would be a great little country if you could roof it'. The town planners at home could do worse than take a leaf out of Bologna's book in this regard. The porticoes here mean you can get about in the rain without an umbrella!
Anyone who has played with the wax dripping from a candle burning atop a wine bottle will know how incredibly satisfying it can be. I've completely lost track of conversations in pubs and cafés where candle wax is available for the peeling, melting and construction of miniature skyscrapers. The distraction has proved so difficult to resist that, on one occasion, the person I was with snatched the wax encrusted bottle away and plonked it on a neighbouring table.