Benvenuta in Italia, Phyllis!

Phyllis's World Tour! Formal Portrait by the Court's Artist, Jeffrey Ebbeler

[heading style=”1″]Benvenuta, Phyllis![/heading]

At last Phyllis is ready to show her furry face in Italy! I won’t lie — it’s been a long time coming, but she decided to take her own sweet time and do an extended tour of the country before settling down with us. Being in Italy, it goes without saying that Phyllis’s every move was followed by the papparazzi. As soon as I heard that she had landed in the country, I hightailed it to her side to be her chaperone — and a good thing, too!

So straight from the tabloids, I present Phyllis’s Italian adventure in pictures…and a short video! (Click on pics to enlarge.)

A female groundhog was spotted throwing pizzas off the Leaning Tower of Pisa. When questioned, the groundhog, who goes by the name of Phyllis, said she was performing gravity experiments. Further investigation revealed that she was in possession of all the necessary permits, and that the area was secured prior to the pizza flinging. Sources say she is now headed for the Veneto region, where citizens have been warned to lock up their gnocchi. Stay tuned for live updates as they come in.

Phyllis at the Tower of Pisa
Experimenting in Pisa

On what is widely reported as one of Phyllis Groundhog’s favorite days of the year, she was spotted in Venezia, where she pulled a spectacular April Fools’ joke or, in Italian, un pesce d’aprile (an April fish). Despite the fact that Carnevale ended in February, the narrow alleys and streets of this famed city were packed with masked and costumed merrymakers, apparently the work of this mischievous marmot! Thousands of confused tourists swamped the mask stores.

I sewed and embroidered my own dress and hat, but Phyllis wanted something more elaborate, so we rented hers. Can you spot Phyllis?

Phyllis and Renee in Venice
Phyllis and Renee in Venezia

Next stop was Verona where, I am ashamed to say, I fell into a deep sleep, leaving Phyllis without a chaperone. In the morning, this is what I read in the tabloids:

Early this morning, in the pale light of the inconstant moon, Phyllis was spotted breathing heavily on Juliet’s balcony in fair Verona, where she laid her latest scene, mumbling something about roses. The witness, a nurse on her way to the early shift, claims to have heard the voice of a swooning male issue from the shadows, but this claim is as yet unsubstantiated.

And Phyllis ain’t talkin’.

Late-night shenanigans in Verona
Late-night shenanigans in Verona

Phyllis was spotted in Roma where, after an audience with the Pope, she was seen riding a chariot through the Colosseo while clad in a toga.

Phyllis winning the chariot race
Phyllis winning the chariot race

I was able to round her up shortly after this photo was taken, and we continued our tour of Rome without further incident. Phyllis decided to keep her toga on all day to make the experience more authentic. She did keep her overalls on underneath, however, because it was drafty.

Phyllis and Renee in Rome
Phyllis and Renee in Rome

Tired from her many exploits, Phyllis infiltrated a large envelope bearing Snoopy and Woodstock, sealed herself in, and propelled her hibernating self to my town. I just took a train. Exhausted and a little lovelorn, she refused to take visitors for a few days while she recuperated. After she fainted on the chaise, I treated her with a poultice and smelling salts, which revived her long enough to ask the parlor maid for a cup of tea. She asked the press to leave her in peace.

After a week of receiving callers only by appointment, Phyllis emerged from her hidey hole! She needed a good two hours to primp and preen before her photo shoot, but then we had a marvelous time with the whole family. My little guys Lorenzo and Claudio were excited to show her around some of their favorite places!

First we took her to the gulf of Baratti, where there’s a dig going on at an Etruscan archeological site right on the beach and across the street from a field of Etruscan tombs. A couple of years ago, they discovered 3000-year-old furnaces the Etruscans had used to extract iron from the rocks. The region of Tuscany, where we live, takes its name from the Etruscans.

Phyllis even volunteered to do a little digging herself, and the archeologists were duly impressed with her skills. She might even come back next summer to work at The Archeological Park of Baratti and Populonia — lots of ruins to uncover here!

At the Etruscan furnaces
Time for a little dig!

It was such a beautiful day that we decided to settle on the grass to have a good read before continuing our tour.

reading at Baratti
Reading APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS by the sea...

That town up on the hilltop behind us is the Etruscan village of Populonia. It’s my favorite little corner of Tuscany, so of course I had to take Phyllis there! She hopped up on the wall to get a closer view of the fortress, while the boys inspected the rocks below.


Since she had been a little lax in her weather reporting duties, Phyllis decided to climb up into the fortress to make her report. The skies were clear and blue with no humidity and a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius (75F). The sea currents were very still. As you can see, we could not agree on which way the wind was blowing!

The wind went that-a-way!

Finally, Phyllis had some free time for a bit of sunbathing before the director called her to the set for filming. Isn’t she glam?

Phyllis sunbathing
Ready for her close-up!

Then it was time for the shoot. In this video, Phyllis helps me demonstrate a typical scene when I try to read aloud to Lorenzo and Claudio. As you’ll see, it’s no easy task. Phyllis was a good sport, though, and knows that the boys are still a bit too young for a treasure hunt. She said she doesn’t mind waiting if it means she can hang out on the beach some more!

“A storm is coming!” the groundhog said.
“A storm that just might kill us!”
But all her friends just laughed and jeered.
No one listened to Phyllis.

[heading style=”1″]Can’t get enough of Phyllis?[/heading]

[heading style=”1″]Arrivederci, Phyllis![/heading]

Next time, we’ll have some Italian lessons!