A volunteer is worth ten pressed men

My plans to live in the Lucchesia started in earnest when I stayed in a village on the mountain road to Lucca (the one that passes through Benabbio and then crosses the Trebbio pass to descend in Pinocchio land at Collodi). I wanted to know what it would be like to live and work in this province and got a short contract as translator for a conference on the voluntary sector held at Lucca’s palazzo Ducale. I was entranced by the magnificent ambience of the palace and the cordiality of those attending, less so by the freezing winter weather (it was December 2001). I realized that Italy had wonderful things to offer but that sometimes one had to struggle hard to get them!

The voluntary sector is actually what keeps large parts of Italy still functioning, especially during this political turmoil where no new government seems to be able to be formed. The fire service, the ambulance brigade and animal welfare are just three organizations kept going by volunteers. In Bagni di Lucca, the Red Cross (which has already whisked me to a hospital twice as a result of scooter arguments with the road and a fainting fit) is a fine example of the selfless actions of unpaid workers. It was, therefore, a special pleasure for me to attend a performance of the timeless story of Pinocchio acted out by their staff at the local theatre in January this year.

It was a great show and brought in lots of contributions for the always needy coffers of “La Croce Rossa Italiana”. Volunteers are constantly welcomed. Furthermore, it may be a good thing to brush up on your first aid (primo soccorso) skills by attending one of their evening courses.

Another voluntary body, the “piccole cuccie” (“little pet baskets”) association at Diecimo (the one we got our amiable tortoiseshell cat Carlotta from) is involved in rescuing strays and unwanted, badly-treated or abandoned animals and has invited me to be a volunteer with them to help with their April fair where there will be English-speaking visitors who may need assistance with the language. At the moment I am translating some leaflets in English for them so that more people may know what their aims and objectives are.

Thank heavens for volunteers – this country would collapse without them! The rewards in being a volunteer are to be found in the satisfaction the work can offer – which no money can buy!

Here are some pics of that Pinocchio show given by the local branch of the Red Cross  – the nearest thing this part of the world has got to a pantomime!

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