ah venice. home to ancient buildings and churches, multitudinous canals and bridges, gondoliers and cobblestones, pigeons and tortuous alleys and walkways. renowned for her elegance and beauty, history and intriguing sense of mystery . . . oh, and BOATS. did i forget to mention boats? boats SHOULD feature, apparently, in an updated tourist guide because they were amelia's favorite thing during our entire stay.
our hotel was only 20 steps away from a busy little canal, only a few meters across (and yes, amelia was either locked into the pram or tightly held the entire time we were there, and could not escape from the well secured hotel), so after eating our breakfast, we would walk to the canal and watch the garbage barge picking up the contents of the hand-pushed garbage trolleys while we stopped in at a bar at for an extra coffee before heading out and around.
because there are so many islands (around 150), no cars (and that was a BONUS with a 2yr old mad to run), and thousands and thousands of stone, brick and wooden bridges (i know, we walked over most of them!), most workers trundle their gear around on little trolleys, or in the case of the garbage, rather large lightweight trolleys with a clever wheel system (also fascinating for the short one) so that one person could get them up and over the bridges, and the barge would pick up the contents. all accomplished in a very leisurely italian manner - the garbo's had time to pick up a quick coffee at the bar, and smoke a cigarette or two and exchange some gossip while awaiting the barge, and the bargeman had a similar flexibility.
the few minutes watching the barge, sitting very still and quiet the whole time, seemed to satisfy amelia's morning sense of all things mechanical, so from there on out it was way hey and 'RUNNING dadda' . . . COBBLESTONES, and puppies', with amelia insisting on 'helping dadda' (or mumma) 'cawwy pwam' up and down each bridge we reached. very time consuming, fraught with the risk of her falling, so the adults involved had a tortuous task of making sure the stroller was guided very slowly and securely both ways. a more dangerous part of the process was the risk of falling foul of italian mothers and grandmothers, who were incensed that we were making the child do such arduous work. those of you who KNOW said child also know darn well how determined she would have been to 'help.' but i didn't have the complicated language to say 'look, she is a bloody minded forceful little munchkin, and she NEEDS to do this and will rip my leg off if i try and stop her . . .', so just smiled and shrugged. the only thing that made it easier was that many people thought she was a boy - in her blue fur coat, pink and grey hat with sparkly things on it, mauve boots, or her purple jacket with pink spots, and purple hat, and would say 'che' bello' (which means beautiful boy!), and smile indulgently. i shamelessly admit that i would not argue this one, but accepted the compliment graciously . . . when i spotted a poster showing an italian guy sporting a haircut almost identical to her own natural grown locks, labeled 'SOCCER MULLET' i realised that to most italians, she looks like a pretty boy - regardless of what she wears - and when they see the hair, that clinches it . . .
sadly, any attempt to dress her in a skirt still elicits dreadful screams and tantrums, and ends with amelia broken-heartedly sobbing her heart out face down, or flat on her back on the floor ripping said skirt straight back off again wailing, 'NO SKIRT, NO SKIRT, WANT RED TWOUSIS', and just takes too darn long to try and get through, so we don't bother, meaning that for now she will just have to keep on being a pretty boy until the rest of her hair catches up with the long bits at the back.
and lets face it, we looked WAY less strange standing watching the garbage barge go about its business with a 'bello ragazzo' in hand than a 'bella ragazza' . . . .