Last week I had the pleasure of being invited along to Il Tappeto Magico, a group for Italian mums and dads with young children living in Bristol. Il Tappeto Magico, which means ‘The Magic Carpet’ in Italian, meet 10am every Saturday morning in term-time at Rimando’s Soft Play Coffee Lounge, on Gloucester Road, Bristol.
Sara Moverley, a local mum, set the group up as a way for other Italian mums and dads to meet up with other Italian parents living in Bristol: ‘Il Tappeto Magico is becoming a lovely excuse for Italian mums and dads to meet up and have an Espresso and a chat whilst their children have fun together’.
However, another reason she set the group up was to encourage young children to practise their Italian. ‘Though I am Italian, my husband is British and my girl used to be bi-lingual but is losing the use of Italian because of pre-school and all her friends are English, so in an attempt to preserve her italian, I set up the group’.
However, while Sara explained to me that while the group is carried out using Italian, ‘this does not mean children must know Italian very well, as the idea is for Italian children to learn Italian or not to lose it!’.
Sara told me that some of the parents don’t speak fluent Italian, either: ‘There are some second and third generation parents whose Italian is not brilliant and who are quite reluctant to join in but would like their kids to speak Italian’.
While there is an entry fee at Rimando’s of £2 per child, Il Tappeto Magico is free and all Italian families with children 0 – 4 years of age in Bristol are welcome along. Sara told me that the group is looking for more mums and dads to join.
Sara explained how a typical session of Il Tappeto Magico will go: ‘After some soft play in the soft play area, we start by sitting on the magic carpet and talk about our week, we then read a story, dance and sing to typical Italian songs and play a few games. There might be a theme, such as Christmas, Carnevale, Easter, family, food…or a theme might spontaneously arise from our story time.’
Francesca, one of the mums at the group, told me that Il Tappeto Magico is ‘the only Italian group in Bristol. Sara explained why this is: ‘There is a French, Swedish and a Spanish School in Bristol because the government are supporting the learning of languages abroad so these groups get funding by the government to study and learn in their own language. There is no Italian school because there is no funding’.
Il Tappeto Magico is therefore a wonderful resource for other Italian parents living in Bristol. Readers of Bishopston Mum, please do spread the word!