9/05/2010

Tione di Trento



I've finished my third and last teaching stint in Italy. This one was in Trentino-Alto Adige, just a few hours over the mountains from Tirano. Tione di Trento was yet another idyllic mountain village, old even in medieval times and hemmed in by steep, forested slopes. My hosts were the Schergnas, a welcoming family of four: two daughters, the youngest aged 11, Claudia. We immediately got along like siblings--actually, a bit better than I used to get along with my siblings. In the later afternoons she helped teach me Italian, while most evenings were spent chatting with Silvio and Nicoletta, digesting fantastic meals on a spacious third-story patio overlooking the old town. The long days of camp were spent in Bondo, less than ten minutes up the road.

By the end of the first day of "English School" I'd already been group tackled by half a dozen six-year-olds, had my shoes thrown over a fence, thrown two kids' shoes over the same fence, incited another four-square revolution during recess and picked out my favorite and least favorite kids. I took a liking to Sara and Linda, my most attentive and adorable ones, as well as the resident devil, who was in fact the most demonic child I'd encountered all summer. I may have just taken pity for the fact that he would be spending his adult life in jail.

We spent class time drawing hideous beasts on the board (always to a chorus of "que schifo!"), practicing the waka waka for Lo Spettacolo and playing cruel elimination games. Whenever in doubt there was dodgeball in the palestra. I spent a good number of hours squashed onto the gym mats underneath piles of freshly eliminated children. Keight, a friend/fellow tutor, often brought her class down to join us, shooting sometime suspicious, other times accusatory looks my way, depending on how close I got to the kids. 

In time off work, the Schergnas showed me around. Claudia gave me the Tione walking tour. Silvio took us up to Madonna di Campiglio, under the shadow of the Brenta Range of the Dolomites, and on a drive along Genova Valley, a steep glacial funnel featuring over forty waterfalls. We searched in vain for mushrooms and fled back to Tione when the rain clouds arrived. On the weekend, we hit Riva del Garda for a massive festival that brought tens of thousands and plenty of fireworks. I also joined Silvio for a night out in Trento, the province's extremely old but hip capital. Midway through camp, old friends from Tirano drove down so we could spend the day together around Levico. I caught up with Gennaro, Carmen, Noemi and Giulia on the shores of the little lake.

Early on the final day of camp, I forced my kids to spend art time drawing their beloved maestro. The results weren't as pretty as I'd hoped, but funny enough. 


At lunch, things started getting a bit out of hand. Our spettacolo had aired the night before, and even among my little ones there was that sense of wild excitement that accompanies the winding down of camp. Handing out a dozen 2-liter coke bottles at lunch to a pack of six and seven-year olds didn't help calm things down. Kids ran wild on all floors of the building, throwing small objects out the windows, screaming up and down the stairs, stampeding a trail of crushed chips across the hall. One of the bidellas snapped, unleashing a high pitched torrent of complaints into the camp supervisor's uncomprehending face. But for the last day of a summer camp, I thought all was as it should be. My favorite bit was recovering a near empty coke bottle that had been tied at the neck to a jumprope and balancing on the third floor windowsill where it had been launched. Amazing. I wish I had seen it happen. 

The next morning, Nicoletta cashed 32 euros of my loose change (Claudia helped count it), and Silvio, Claudia and Anna accompanied me to my train from Trento. Ahead of me was another wonderful day aboard trenitalia, heading west.