What do you do with your children?

I am wondering what you do with your children when school is out and you have to work. 

work children

summerI know a few things moms do here.  Some send to Nonni (Grandparents).  Some send to Summer camps/schools.  Some take off work using vacation time and other times they can use.  But what do you do? Comment below and let us know what you do.  This is a tough situation for many with children and of course need to work.

The Horror with Amazon and Third Party Vendors

amazoncoukAmazon, a well known company, that many of us expats use to get packages for favorites from home, to send gifts to our relatives all over the world, and even to have the ability to order online with a large selection of items ranging from clothes, to kitchen wares, to even household paper goods.  Amazon.it has pick up recently over the past few years to offer a larger selection but before that Amazon.co.uk was the selection to cover things we needed in Europe.  Neither is as big as Amazon.com but the company is definitely picking up and expanding.  They even are possibly starting up a drone delivery system which if it was in place maybe I would not be telling you this horror story of a battle I am in between a third party vendor at Amazon and their supposedly A-toZ Guarantee Claim section for handling disputes between buyers and third party vendors.

As my story begins with the usual, I have a health condition that causes me to not be able to go out shopping for long hours getting gifts for my children.  So I rely a lot on online shops to handle my Christmas gifts. I could probably be a share holder with Amazon, because of the amount of purchases I  make through them.  The reason I have always used Amazon was because of the quick deliveries, friendly customer support, easy returns, and appropriately handling disputes or complaints.  I mean just recently I was able to contact Amazon.it in English to file a warranty on a cell phone I purchased 1 year ago that completely died.  I provided all the documents and they so nicely sent SDA to my door the next day to pick up the dead phone.  They mentioned that my phone was discontinued and they did not have a replacement so they would credit me a full refund.  Which was great because then I was able to purchase a replacement phone through them.  We even had a credit card issue because a year ago it was a different card which had been closed and they so kindly explained how to go about getting the reimbursement to the new card through the bank.  Within 4 days I was able to ship the phone back, get the credit and get a replacement phone all during the week between Christmas and New Years.  This is unreal in Italy but it happened. Amazon.it Customer service was wonderful and polite and answered all my questions in English never the less.

As I said I ordered my gifts from Amazon for Christmas.  I ordered all on December 1st so that it had plenty of time to arrive by Christmas.  I used both Amazon.it and Amazon.co.uk, but I do check where the seller is located even with shipping from Amazon sometimes the package is coming from either Germany, UK or even US.  That in mind giving 24 days to get to my house for Christmas should be plenty of time even though it is a busy time of the year.  Most of my packages arrived some cutting it close to the wire.  There were 3 that were still not here by the 23rd of December.  One vendor so nicely contacted me through email saying the package had shipped but would not make it here by Christmas and they were very sorry.  I thought Ok and waited until this week to contact them again mentioning that it still did not arrive, where they so kindly apologized and reimbursed me for the item.   As of today it still has not arrived. Another item I contacted the vendor where they responded

We totally understand your situation. If the shirts do not “show up” within 4 days we will cancel the order and refund your money. Then it is most likely that the shipment was lost during the process. We are very sorry for the inconvenience that may have caused. Kind Regards,

 

Those shirts did arrive on the 24th so good to go and no problems.  That T-shirt company is buXsbaum a third party vendor on Amazon.co.uk  This item had a delivery estimate of December 05, 2014 – Thursday, December 11, 2014. Now I know these are estimates but there has to be a cut off as to when a package should finally arrive at the buyers house. I mention this vendor because as you can see they were very respectful and reasonable.  The package did arrive so we did not have to pursue any further disputes with this company.

That leaves the last one, a Minecraft Creeper T-shirt ordered from the third party vendor again through Amazon.co.uk called Trenz Shirt Company INCI contacted them like I did with the other T-shirt company on December 16th wondering if the package was going to get to my house before Christmas. This one had a tracking number for the USPS (United States Postal Service) and according to that tracking system this package has been all over the place by this date. Mind you the shop is located Loganville, Ga USA.  The package labeled on the USPS tracking system was stated as an International Letter (this is a T-shirt not a letter) went from:

1 Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS December 3, 2014
2 Arrived at USPS Facility MIAMI, FL 33112 December 10, 2014 9:43 am
3 Arrived at Sort Facility ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS) December 10, 2014 11:17 am
4 Departed USPS Facility MIAMI, FL 33112 December 10, 2014 11:17 am
5 Processed Through Sort Facility ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS) December 10, 2014 1:35 pm
6 Arrived Miami, UNITED STATES December 11, 2014 12:54 pm
7 Departed Miami, UNITED STATES December 11, 2014 5:37 pm
8 Departed Milan, ITALY December 13, 2014 8:12 am
9 Departed Frankfurt, GERMANY December 13, 2014 5:38 pm
10 Departed Frankfurt, GERMANY December 15, 2014 4:58 pm
11 Departed Vienna, AUSTRIA December 16, 2014 7:12 am
12 Departed Milan, ITALY December 16, 2014 9:59 am
13 Processed Through Sort Facility ITALY December 18, 2014 2:45 pm
14 Customs Clearance ITALY December 18, 2014 6:43 pm
15 Customs clearance processing complete ITALY December 30, 2014 4:08 pm
16 Addressee not available – Addressee advised to pick up the item ITALY December 31, 2014 4:02 pm ????

In looking at this tracking of my package I would already say something is not right with their system.  How can a package be in Miami and New York at the same time? Why would it go from US to Milan then to Germany, Austria then back to Milan?  Okay fine. When I contacted Trenz Shirt Company on the 16th I wrote:

I am hoping this arrives. By looking at the USPS site tracking I have seen that it has gone to Milan then Germany then Austria back to Milan again.  It is on track to Firenze correct?

They so kindly responded,

It looks like they may have misscanned. Its in Italy. I will watch the tracking though.

I figured okay they are looking into it and maybe we will get it by Christmas. Still it did not arrive so on December 23rd I contacted them again:

I am still waiting for this and of course still hoping to get it by tomorrow, but not sure if it will even show up.
Do you have any way to find out where this is? From the tracking number I see it finally cleared customs on the 18th but I still have not received it.
Let me know thanks,

Their response:

It may be with local carrier. I see it cleared customs on the 18. I will try to contact USPS to see if I can get an exact location.

I have not heard back from the vendor so I contacted them again on December 27th because nothing had changed on this tracking system the USPS is using.

Just letting you know we did not receive this as of even today. I am still hoping to get it since my son very much wanted this shirt but do not know what to do as in how long to wait for asking for the reimbursement and if it will ever get here.

Their response to my message:

Ok. I am still awaiting response from USPS on this item.

I get the automatic email of the tracking system on this package on December 30th stating the same “Customs clearance processing complete ITALY December 30, 2014 4:08 pm”  Nothing new.  December 31st arrives I am home with the whole family all day we do not leave until 8pm at night. I was shocked to receive an email of the tracking system on January 1st stating “Addressee not available – Addressee advised to pick up the item ITALY December 31, 2014 4:02 pm”  There was no attempt of delivery and there was no slip put in the mail box stating that there was an “attempt of delivery/ avviso di ritiro” let alone where to pick up a package.

avviso_di_ritiroThis is not new if a package is attempted to be delivered the Poste Italiane puts a yellow card in your box saying that they attempted to deliver and if they are going to return the next day or if you need to pick up and the address of the post office. We live in big city there are probably 50 or more offices in Firenze.  Without having this slip I have no way of knowing what office this package is at, if it is even at an office since the system has been so fishy to begin with. But since I was home and no one came, I immediately messaged the seller.  Mind you the package was ordered December 1st, shipped December 3rd and it was January 1st and I still have not received this package.  I wrote

According to the tracking system it claims they tried to deliver to us yesterday at 4 pm but we were here and did not receive anything asking to pick up the package and do not even know the location to pick up the package. Just letting you know. Maybe they will try to deliver on the 2nd because of the holidays. We will see.  We paid EUR 32,00 where  19.06 EUR was shipping which took over a month to get to us. I am really starting to get frustrated and annoyed that we paid so much for shipping to get the package to us by Christmas  and still have not received this package.

The company responded ignoring the fact that it was now a month and no item has arrived:

It appears they will be trying again today

Where Trenz Shirt Company sees that they will try again today, I have no clue, because the last final entry on the tracking system was that they attempted and that it was being held for pickup.  The company did not acknowledge that it is taking too long for the package to arrive, they did not respond to the fact that now I was getting frustrated, they did not care that I paid a lot for shipping and that the package again did not arrive.  On January 2nd there was not another attempt to deliver and again no yellow slip saying where to pick up a package.  So at this point, it was time to file the claim through Amazon’s  A-to-z Guarantee that they set up to handle disputes from customers and third party vendors.  I felt okay maybe we will get somewhere.  January 3rd I wrote both an email to Trenz Shirt and Amazon A-toZ Guarantee stating that by this point I have not received the item I ordered and I would like it fully refunded.  Since January 3rd every day the messages were going back and forth me asking for a refund and them both Amazon and Trenz telling me to pick up the package at an unknown post office.  I mean really Amazon A-toZ should have told the company that it has been over a month and the package did not arrive that they should just reimburse the buyer instead of sending messages like:

We are writing to follow up with you concerning the A-to-z Guarantee claim filed for order 026-######-#######. The seller has supplied USPS tracking number LZ#########US, which shows that a delivery was attempted for this shipment on 31/12/2014. We ask that you contact the shipping company directly to arrange for the delivery of this merchandise. We ask that you confirm by replying to this message that this item has been received and the claim may be closed. Please note that if we do not receive a reply within 3 business days, we will assume the issue is resolved and your claim will be closed. We appreciate your cooperation with this request. Thank you for your assistance in this matter and for choosing Amazon.co.uk.

So basically, the A-to-Z Guarantee Claim account manager believes the USPS tracking system (even with all the irregular places, dates, and times on it) that the item was attempted to be delivered (when I stated that it had not and that we did not receive a notification where to pick up). Then they want ME to contact the shipping company directly to arrange delivery (what the H_LL did I pay 19.06 EUR for shipping to get it by Christmas and now I have to find out where the package is?) On top of the fact that when you look to find any information on the USPS site for an international package, they only give the information to the person shipping not the person receiving.  The seller at this point should have reimbursed me the amount and filed a claim with the USPS to find the package and ship it back to the company or start a claim for a lost package.  I am not sure how they were able to write that the package was attempted  delivery, but that was just not true.  Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee Claim should have handled this by now instead of placing all that searching etc on the buyer.  Then they state “Please note that if we do not receive a reply within 3 business days, we will assume the issue is resolved and your claim will be closed.” I have sent replies only to get the same response that the supplier now says the tracking number giving for USPS is the tracking number for Poste Italiane (which it is not) and that the package is at FIRENZE GAVINANA INES  no address just a name. If you look up on the Poste Italiane site for the the office it does not come up.  It you take the name Gavinana that is 30 to 40 minutes opposite direction from where I live so not really the post office in my location (which is where packages are usually at for pick up if they tried to deliver at my house). I do not drive. Come on get real, why is it I have to fight for a package that is lost somewhere that was not delivered to my house and even if it was attempted (which it was not) on December 31st delivery it would have been 28 days since shipping that it took to even supposedly get to my house. Now I have to keep responding in these 3 days to keep the claim open or Amazon.co.uk is going to drop it saying it has been settled.  They have not put any input what so ever in this matter. They are not doing anything different then if I was handling it with the company directly.  This is all totally unacceptable customer service from both the t shirt company and Amazon.co.uk.

What Amazon.co.uk does give you now for disputes, if you choose to take it, is a credit to be used on Amazon.co.uk that they have no problem immediately giving me.  Why would I take a credit to order something that might not get to me like the package I am dealing with now?

At this point, I will not purchase anything more from Amazon.co.uk or Trenz Shirt Company again.  In fact I might just look for other alternatives to Amazon in general, if they are going to treat their customers, like I have been treated the past few days. I would advise you to do the same and if you do order from Amazon, be very aware of the third party vendors even if Amazon is shipping the item.  Amazon takes no responsibility in the actions of the third party vendor even though they have now more than two million third party sellers on their sites that made up 40% of their shipping for the year 2014. They also recently experienced a glitch between repricerexpress.com and Amazon.co.uk, where the third party vendors got hit hard when the glitch caused their products to go on sale for 1p. So using third party vendors on Amazon, Buyer Beware.

A follow up on this:  I did in the end have to take the credit because to protest with the credit card company with such a small amount would have been an hassle.  But I will always watch where the shipment is coming from and where I am buying from.  As long as you stay with Amazon itself you will be treated with respect and most likely get your package.

Related articles:

  1. Amazon shipped 5bn items in 2014, with 40% from third-party sellers
  2. Amazon sellers hit by nightmare before Christmas as glitch cuts prices to 1p
  3. Amazon refuses to compensate sellers for 1p price glitch

 

Substitutes in Italy: Borax | Firenze Mom

https://firenzemom.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/borax.jpg?w=162&h=162Borax I remember using it in the US for many different things.  The compounds that make up Borax are:

Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate,
is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid.
Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that
dissolve easily in water. from Wikipedia

Here in Italy it is called Borace or better yet the name  Percarbonato di sodio.

For places where to get it look at: Substitutes in Italy: Borax | Firenze Mom.

 

Florence unfriendly to children? Not to my child

2014-10-09 11.39.16Florence can seem as a child unfriendly city for many, mostly because of its famous history and rather large, constant flow of tourists. The image of a toddler running around and chasing pigeons on the rocky beach in front of Palazzo Pitti for example, just doesn’t fit the picture somehow, but I can honestly tell you there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the future playing on the stones of the past.
When we had our daughter, my husband and I were constantly asking ourselves about places where we can take her, so we can all have fun together. We have tried numerous things, from going to aperitivos at child friendly bars to taking her to playgrounds and specially designed entertainment centers (ludoteche), but none of them ever made her as happy as the bar from the corner of our street. Ephia as any toddler has a lot of friends on our street: the people from the bakery, the people from the tobacco shop, the people from the pharmacy, but her favorites are the family that owns the bar, especially their son, the bartender. He is the kind of guy that every kid would love and he knows exactly what to say and how to act around them which makes his bar be filled with children and happy parents all the time. He became my daughter’s best friend and every day when we go for our walk she drags me there, just to see him and give him the perfect smile and “Ciao!”. On some days, when he is not around, we get to the door, she begins searching for him and when she realizes that he is not there, her lower lip starts to tremble, her chin gets pushed into her chest and then she takes my hand asking to leave the place instantly. Yup, that seems like real friendship to me and as I have seen, this is the story of any child that goes into that space.
The first thing you can notice when going inside are the dozens of drawings on the right wall, which have been made by all the children who stepped foot in there, as a present for the bartender. The bar is called Torello and although it’s rather far from the center of Florence, near the Scandicci area, I would highly recommend this place to any parent who wants to enjoy their cup of coffee, one of the best cappuccinos in town or just a nice evening aperitivo, while watching their children having fun and constantly smiling. This man is like a magician and has that vibe that fascinates and draws kids his way, always having a smile on his face and a joke on his lips. Maybe we all should have a bartender like that in our neighborhood, just to make our mornings a bit more smiley.

Article written by  Ela Vasilescu

 

elav

About the Author:

Ela Vasilescu is a published writer and a freelance journalist based in Florence, Italy. She is currently working on her new book of short stories and is part of the Writers Group in Florence.  She has created and conducted the journalistic project The human behind the artist which consists in interviews with English speaking artists living in Florence.

Because she believes that stories can make us look inward and explore our emotions better, she is always on a quest to finding those stories which cannot be seen with the naked eye. She has conducted a series of theater workshops and this year she has created a storytelling workshop for children “Let’s invent stories together!”. She is also collaborating with F.E.S.T.A Theater and the Canadian Island kindergarten at the moment teaching various theater and English workshops. www.writerinflorence.com

 Related Articles on the Blog:

“Using words and images to capture your audience”
Story Telling Workshops

Free Open House at SunFlower Florence School

ItaliaMomsFlorence300n Language Classes in Florence for Kids and Moms at SunFlower Florence.  We are a school that teaches to all ages and levels of Italian knowledge—but our specialty is with children! Come check it out at our

SunFlower Florence Open House

party flyer

Date: Saturday, November 8th
Time: 4pm to 8pm.
Location: Via dei Calzaiuoli, 7 – 50122 Firenze, Italy
Phone: +39 055 2741095
email: info@sunflowerfirenze.it

Story Telling Workshops

storytelling workshopIs your child very imaginative or on the contrary has a hard time expressing thoughts this is the workshop for your child.  Ela Vasilescu runs these workshops to get children to explore their minds.  She will be having them at two locations in the city and they will be divided by age groups.   Best of all they are in English.  You can contact her through email; WriterInFlorence@gmail.com  or call her 334-783-0290.

 

The Right Time For An Orthodontic Check-Up

The Right Time For An Orthodontic Check-Up: No Later Than Age 7

dentist
Even though most people think of pre-teens and teens when they speak about orthodontics, there are good reasons your child should get an orthodontic evaluation much sooner. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7.

Why Your Child Should Get An Orthodontic Check-Up No Later Than Age 7:
1. Orthodontists can spot problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.
2. The check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Often, the orthodontist will identify a potential problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin treatment at the right time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.
3. Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
4. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that wouldn’t be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
5. Some of the more readily apparent conditions that indicate the need for early examination include:

• Early or late loss of teeth
• Difficulty in chewing or biting
• Mouth breathing
• Thumb sucking
• Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
• Jaws that shift or make sounds
• Speech difficulties
• Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
• Teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all
• Facial imbalance
• Jaws that are too far forward or back
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth

6. Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:

• Guide jaw growth
• Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
• Correct harmful oral habits (thumb sucking)
• Improve appearance
• Guide permanent teeth into a more favourable position
• Improve the way lips meet

7. Through early orthodontic screening, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile that’s good for life. No child should wait until reaching the teens to feel good about his or her smile.

October is the Month of Dental Prevention. The American Association of Orthodontists has chosen October as Orthodontic Health Month. It provides the opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of orthodontics, the importance of early orthodontic screening no later than age seven, the lifetime value of orthodontics and orthodontists’ special educational qualifications.
Dr. Daniela Signorelli offers free orthodontic check-up visits and diagnostic record study (xrays, models, photos). The value of an orthodontic diagnostic study is € 200.

Daniela Signorelli definitivo 02 12 2013

She practices in:

Florence, via Berchet 1 (near piazza della Libertà) tel.: 055-58.94.53

Prato, Via del Cittadino 87 (near the modern art museum Pecci) tel.:0574-57.55.01

Campi Bisenzio, via B. Buozzi 70. Tel.: 055-89.09.92

 The material is provided by the American Association of Orthodontists. If anyone is interested in having more information, there is  AAO’s  website : www.braces.org

Great Pre-School (Asilo) Near Piazza Liberta’

Great Pre-School (Asilo) Near Piazza Liberta’

Virzi asilo3

Hi Everyone,
For any moms who arrive this summer and do not know where to enroll their children in pre-school/kindergarten, I want to spread the word about my son’s school, Gli Scolopi near Piazza Liberta.

We have had a fantastic experience with this school this past year, and I heard that there are still some spots available for 4 and 5 year olds in my son’s class. At the moment, he is one of two bilingual children (English-Italian) and the school has been very receptive to increasing the number of days that the kids learn English. They already do an English lesson every weVirzi asilo 5ek with a very nice American woman, and they said they are open to adding lessons if the parents request it. I am very excited about this, because I feel it is very important to keep kids exposed to English in social environments as well as at home.

I am hoping there are more families in this network who will want to sign up and create a core group of bilingual/English-speaking pre-schoolers, because the language program at the school can be adapted for children who are at a more advanced level, as well as for brand new beginners.

Other details: the class size is small, the kids get a lot of attention, there is a lot of hands on learning, they do a computer class and a science class one day a week, and I can’t say enough wonderful things about the teachers! I have met some very nice and dedicated teachers since living in Florence, and I have to say the two women here are by far the most energetic, warm-hearted, and happiest I have ever met.

Virzi asilo4

Check out their website www.scuolepiefiorentine.com

Hope everyone enjoys their summer holidays.
Kimberly Virzi

Ticket, dal 1 luglio si cambia: ATTENZIONE: “Si paga di più se non si chiama”. Ecco come fare e le nuove normative per essere esenti – tessera sanitaria, ticket

You will need to get your health card updated with your income level status by June 30th.

via Ticket, dal 1 luglio si cambia: ATTENZIONE: “Si paga di più se non si chiama”. Ecco come fare e le nuove normative per essere esenti – tessera sanitaria, ticket.

Giardino Nidiaci Oltrarno Area

Giardino Nidiaci Oltrarno Area   by Miguel Martinez

We are parents living in the Oltrarno, of very mixed origins, who work together to keep  the only garden for children in the district open.  A garden facing the normally unseen side of the Carmine church, and which, we have recently discovered, was given to the children of our district by the American Red Cross nearly a century ago. Which means we have a very special relationship with families from the USA.

5-nidiaci-arcobalenoUnless it rains or is too cold, we open after school hours (5 p.m.) Monday through Friday, in Via D’Ardiglione, a tiny bending street in San Frediano: in case of doubt, you can call 349-1575238 first.

Oltrarno is the last surviving neighborhood of the center of Florence still populated by mixed social classes and not yet completely overwhelmed by pubcrawling, banks and fashion shops; and San Frediano is the name of the district or  region clustering around the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, where in a sense the Renaissance began.

It’s easy to forget that Florence is people, not just monuments and shop windows, until you have children.  Yet, it was the people living in San Frediano, who largely built the better-known parts of the city.

The only place in the area where children can play on the sidewalks which are so narrow that just one cat at a time can fit – the second has to sit in the street.

However, right behind the apse of Santa Maria del Carmine, there lies an enclosed area. Invisible from the outside, is a large garden, overlooked by buildings dating back to the nineteenth century.

1-two-cats-ardiglione

This is what local residents call “Il Nidiaci”.  It’s where all the children of the area, generation after generation, used to play and grew up.  The eighty-year old hat maker who sells her wares in the market at Santo Spirito told us she went to kindergarten and later met her fiancé there.

Everybody thought that this precious oasis in a desert of stone had been opened to the children by a generous lawyer, named Umberto Nidiaci, in 1923. However, there was always something elusive and garbled about the matter. Though our kids played in the whole area, only part of the garden was actually public property.  The buildings and about one-third of the garden was private.

Just last spring, we made an exciting discovery in the Florence Notarial Archive and under a wonderful and completely forgotten fourteenth century fresco.  A bored employee handed us an old bound folder, where we found a document showing that the Nidiaci was really a gift from the American Red Cross to the people of San Frediano.

We discovered that the American Red Cross involvement in Italy in WWI had been enormous. Though today it is only remembered thanks to Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. Throughout the country, the ARC had set up initiatives to help refugees, widows, orphans and the families of Italian children. It was in this context that the New England patrician, Edward Otis Bartlett Jr of Providence, Rhode Island, commissioner of the American Red Cross, decided to make a major gift to the children of the city where the ARC had its Italian base.

In 1920, Colonel Bartlett appointed businessman Carlo-Matteo Girard and lawyer Umberto Nidiaci to sell goods belonging to the American Red Cross. They devolved the income “to an Entity which, in the district of San Frediano of this city, should deal with popular instruction and education, with special attention to children”. The sum was invested in the purchase of the garden which would later be called “Il Nidiaci” and all the buildings around it. Umberto Nidiaci was simply the lawyer appointed to carry out the task, on an equal footing with Girard whose name later silently disappeared from the record.3-opening-nidiaci-feast

Going through dusty archives, we discovered how the property had been let slip into the hands of the Nidiaci family (a similar fate was apparently shared by many other ARC initiatives around the country), and in 2008, the last Nidiaci sold the property to a building company with the unlikely name of Amore e Psiche Holding, which we soon discovered wanted to turn the buildings into luxury apartments, and the garden into a parking lot.

In 2011, 1.400 people of our small district signed a petition asking the town government to save the Nidiaci. Mayor Matteo Renzi promptly responded, announcing that saving the Nidiaci was an “absolute and irrevocable priority” for the town government.

One year later, the ludoteca in the area was closed down and the new owners started work in earnest, refurbishing the buildings and using their part of the garden as a construction site. The only sign of interest on  the part of the local government was when they granted permission to the company’s trucks to drive through the garden.

4-halloweenSome families have been living in San Frediano for centuries, others have come recently from places as various as the UK, Naples, Moldavia, Nigeria and Japan.  They were parents seeing each other every day in front of school and their differences became irrelevant.  These parents decided to take matters firmly in hand. They set up an association which pressured the town government into giving them the keys of the public part of the garden, with a four-year commitment on their part to keep the garden open for children,volunteering their time.

The outdoor play equipment had been mostly ripped up and carted off, the day before we opened the garden water was cut off too, and we had no roof over our heads. On Halloween, we had a wonderful party, because the place is safe and walled off, but there was no electricity, so the girls dressed up as black witches were able to play hide and seek for the first time in their lives in real darkness.6-wendy-yates-violin

Everybody did their part to keep the garden running.  There were carpenters and architects, restaurant owners, cleaning women, bricklayers and harpists. But one person that gave a very important contribution, was an American, Wendy Yates, a professional violist, born in Colorado, mother of two girls. She was married to an Italian, but she had always felt out of place.  That was until she started teaching violin for free to the kids of San Frediano at the Nidiaci. Then she suddenly ceased being the expat mom, and became a key figure for all the area.

7-irene-manconi-dragoTo pressure the town administration into finally doing something, in January we organized a march through San Frediano.  A seamstress born in Sardinia made a beautiful banner with the Green Dragon, the medieval symbol of San Frediano.  Duccio, a lively eighty-year old bronze craftsman who as a boy had saved the tools of his shop in Via de’ Serragli from the Nazis, made the metal work on the flagstaff.

San Frediano is Bianco means that all the historic residents here support the “Bianchi di Santo Spirito” in the Florentine “Calcio Storico”. The Bianchi for the first time in history decided to take part in a public demonstration for their district. The families of San Frediano marched through the streets, led by two very active seven-year olds.  They are Samuele whose family comes from Sardinia, and Abduh, whose family comes from Senegal. Abduh’s mother won the competition we made at the garden for the best cake, and we are still arguing about it.  She actually cooked a kind of salty fried rolls that made everybody forget the sweet stuff.

 

By the way, would anybody be interested in helping out with unpaid English lessons for the kids at the Nidiaci?

2-nidiaci-from-abovehttp://nidiaci.blogspot.it

https://www.facebook.com/AssociazioneAmiciDelNidiaciInOltrarno

email: giardinonidiaci@gmail.com

tel.: 349-1575238 (we answer in English, too)