Last Wednesday I discovered a new Italian tradition. For an hour and a half, from nine thirty until 11, I lay on a sun lounger in the dark, staring up at the sky and looking for shooting stars. It's traditional to do this around Ferragosto (the 15th August), when there are many of them in the sky. I saw about 7 or 8, but the children I was with (aged 7 and 10) managed to see “20 real ones and lots of fake ones.” I was distracted some of the time by trying to convince Child 2 (aged 7) that there weren't any wolves lurking in the garden ready to come and get them, and some of the time by convincing him to pretend to be the wolf to scare his brother, and some of the time by laughing so hard whenever we tried to do wolf calls in the dark.
It's something everyone should do. Lie down in the dark, stare at the night sky and watch as the stars multiply as it gets darker and your eyes adjust to the lack of light. Watch the aeroplanes, some low and some far, far away and be amazed as every so often a shooting star zaps across the sky. It feels like watching the universe go by.
And if all that sounds a bit too exaggerated, make sure you have a wriggly and slightly scared seven year old next to you to bring you back down to earth.