It turns out that being a baby in Italy is akin to being a celebrity - mobbed everywhere you go and excessively praised for your beauty/chubby cheeks/ability to drool.
I'm a bit worried by how much baby D loved all the attention. She's even mastered the art of the fake smile, which she plasters on rather frequently in public these days. She probably realised that smiling at every compliment received in Italy would injure her rather pendulous cheeks, so opted for the faux-but-only-if-you-know-the-kid grin, which she launched aggressively at every passerby.
I know from experience in London that Italian restaurants tend to be the most baby-friendly but I had no idea that pretty much all Italians are obsessed by babies. And I'm not just talking about grandmothers. Sullen teenagers of both sexes, kids and tattooed men in their 30s were among the throngs flocking to D as she made her way from town to town along the Cinque Terre.
I should point out that most people (namely 60+ year-olds in better shape than me) hike from town to town. We didn't. We carried D in her oversized pushchair-cum-carriage up and down the stairs at each and every train station to get from one town to the next and in some towns we also had to carry her up the stairs to get to the main streets.
So while this holiday was super fun for D, who got to take in the sites and have plenty of new experiences, Mummy and Daddy were basically unpaid labourers, huffing and puffing away as they escorted the mini-celeb from place to place (or rather, admirer to admirer).
In addition to developing what will possibly turn into the world's biggest ego, D had plenty of other reasons to smile in Italia. She went on her first boat ride, had her first dip - make that splash - in the sea and went on her first set of playground swings.
She also hit the beach (see pic above), tasted gelato (I know I'm supposed to be keeping her off the sweet stuff, but when in Rome...) and developed a penchant for peaches. They're her new favourite food of all time. I was thrilled about this until I realised that peaches aid digestion a little too well. Post-peach eating frenzy, baby D pooed four times the following morning (before 10 am). No wonder we ran out of clothes.
While baby D generally had a blast being worshipped, adored and having every need catered to, the rest of us - mummy, daddy and buggy - didn't fare quite so well.
Upon returning home, the beloved, albeit gargantuan, Bugaboo appears to have heaved its last breath (going up and down those stairs in Italy with a secondhand pram was apparently not a good plan) and the seat part has broken, while Daddy developed an aversion to Italian food (the horror!) after a bout of food poisoning in Italy.
Meanwhile, I had quite the opposite issue, eating everything that came my way. Since I've been back, I've been asked twice (by my husband, who is now firmly locked in the dog house), if I'm pregnant again because I've returned from Italy with a not-insignificant paunch.
As far as I can tell, no sibling for baby D just yet - only a phantom pasta baby that won't go away.