For nearly four years now, Young One has been one of the first to arrive at school; poor kid is dropped off nearly forty minutes before the start of school each day.
Since her first year she has been a part of the crew of kids and nuns who prepare the tables for lunch each morning. This built-in opportunity for her to volunteer and help others during this time is an added bonus for Richard and me, even if she doesn't quite see it that way.
Her teacher heads up this task, allowing for a bit of one-on-one time for them, and the kiddo sometimes gets to run special errands for her teacher, including using the elevator. Do you remember 4th grade very much? Let me remind you, this is a big deal. Errands, elevators, helping the teacher...those things matter.
Recently, Richard gained access to parts of the school that we don't usually get to see, and he snapped the photo with his iPhone.
I can imagine the school children seated at the green tables. Tables set with ceramic plates and real glasses (looks like Nutella jars!) Tables topped with pitchers of water and communal bread bowls. Notice the stack of extra plates on each table, likely for the first course of pasta or soup.
According to Young One, the teachers serve the students from carts they push around the room, complete with echoes of "Eat your vegetables!" "You haven't had anything green all week. Today you must!" "I know fennel is your favorite, so I'll give you a little extra." "Just take a taste." (Except, no English is spoken, ha!)
Lunch is not entirely prepared on the campus, rather it is brought in by a food service company. I think there might be some local "finishing" of certain dishes, but I'm not entirely sure. I'll try to post a couple of weekly menus soon.
And after lunch? An hour-long period of recess.
Disclaimer: I hate generalizations as much as you do, probably more. This is my limited experience at my fourth grader's tiny primary school lost in Northern Italy. If you have a different experience with this, please share!