FAI, or the Fondo Ambiente Italiano, is perhaps best described as the Italian National Trust, and the Giornata FAI is similar to the UK Doors Open Day; when previously closed properties are opened up for the weekend. The guides for this, described as apprendisti Ciceroni are typically young people from local schools. Including, this year, one of the schools where I work.
I arrange to meet Caroline in the Irish bar off Strada Nova. There are just a few of us there. The rest are Italians, keeping an eye on the Italy - Wales 6 Nations game on the television. Wales need to win this one by a cricket score in order to have any chance of the title, but Italy are playing well and Wales are just shading it at half-time by 13-12. Caroline arrives, I pay for my good-but-expensive Guinness, and we leave. I therefore miss the deluge of points that will follow in the second half.
We walk down to Alla Vedova, only to find it closing up for the afternoon. Damn. I was looking forward to their polpette. We walk back to La Cantina, only to find that food will be a thirty minute wait. This is becoming dispiriting. We walk back down Strada Nova, and find a nondescript cichetteria in a back street. Nothing special, but reasonable value for money.
The students are working at Santa Maria Maddalena, a rarely-open church. We'd previously been there for an exhibition of presepi over two years ago; an exhibition that, unfortunately, prevented us from actually seeing most of the church itself.
They're incredibly well organised. Each one does a presentation of, perhaps, five minutes before handing over to one of their colleagues as they lead us around the church and its environs. There is no great art to be found inside La Maddalena, with the exception of a faded Last Supper, possibly by Giandomenico Tiepolo. Still, even if it's not the most beautiful church in town, it doesn't matter. The kids are brilliant, and I am - ridiculously - so proud of them. Italy, I realise, is going to be all right. Because they'll be in charge of it one day.
We make our way back home, pausing for the first ice-cream of the year along the way. It's probably still a little bit too cold, but what the hell. Then we stop at a bar near to us that we've never quite been able to find the time to visit. We order a brace of spritzes and some cicheti. There's a mixture of American and Italian jazz playing. More cicheti arrive from the kitchen. We order more drinks and more food. Cooking, I realise, is not going to be necessary tonight. I have not eaten anything other than cicheti all day and now, frankly, it would be a shame to spoil the 100% record.
We arrive home, tired but happy. It's been a good day. And I realise that we are going to be all right, too.