The house guests have flown away and the house returns to quiet after an hectic 7 days. They have promised to send me their thoughts and impressions as first timers to Puglia and I in turn promised to publish them here. So when I get them I will.
Walking this morning it seems almost everyone has gone either back up north or back into Martina Franca. The houses are locked up, the driveways empty and the garden furniture returned to the shed. Unfortunately many of the cages that held the large dog for the summer are empty also. This means walking will become a little more exciting for a few weeks as the dogs start to form packs and search for food. Turning every corner can bring you face to face with either one or more large looking hounds. Most run off as fast as they can, a few bark and stand their ground until I bend as if to pick up a stone and then bolt and the odd one follows me all the way home like a, well like a dog I guess. I have to time my run through the gate to leave it on the other side. One dog fed can soon become ten and we are not around all the time .
However the list of departures doesn’t include the grandchildren from hell who regulars will know have been the bane of our lives for 3 weeks now. Each morning I sit banging out stuff on this keyboard with one finger always hovering over You Tube’s Handel’s Messiah to give you a rousing rendition of Hallelujah and each morning I hear La Nonna (grandmother) bellow and then a return scream from one of the terrible three. Now non lovers of Handel are probably grateful they continue to blight the quiet of our area but I am now crossing off each day until September 12th when the schools go back and surely they disappear.
The summer school holiday is a real hangover from the days when kids were needed in the fields. From early June until Sept 12th they are off, 16 weeks holiday in all. For many kids it must be almost like starting again each Christmas Term but with only four and an half hours of actual tuition each day quite how they get back into the subjects I have no idea.
2014 will, so the government says, be the year that books will be phased out of schools and replaced by on line books linked for each pupil through the wonders of the world wide web. This move is of course a real vote catcher for our leader Letta. Parents have to buy books for all lessons at school in Italy. The state supports none of the cost. Book prices have been rising way ahead of inflation as book firms began to realise that their days are numbered. They are up some 40% in 3 years. Also like the home and away premiership football supporters replica playing kit, the teachers have been changing the books required for each subject at a rate of knots almost no parent can keep up with nor afford, as well as effectively denying the old practice of being able to sell the used books to next term’s pupils.
However there is one fly or indeed huge bluebottle in the ointment to this great decree by our leader. Barely 57% of schools are connected to the internet unlike say the UK with 87%. In junior schools 12 pupils must share a computer, in middle schools 8 pupils and in high school 7 pupils. These are Italy wide figures. I understand from several teacher friends that the situation is way worse down here in Puglia. Also many of the so called computers are of the old dumb type quite unable to connect to anything.
Let’s hope they don’t stop the books and then try to figure out how to get overcome this problem but I’m not holding my breath. These are politicians we are dealing with who know the government is bound to fall in 2014 and want as many vote catching proposals on the table as they can get. It is especially true now as Sr. Bunga Bunga seems to have got his way and the government is canceling the hated IMU tax on first homes. The new tax which seems to simply add the lost IMU tax to second homes is called the Taser tax much to the mirth of the Italian press with lots of ‘shock’ jokes doing the rounds.