Sindy couldn’t believe she was really there. It was like a magical dream. And she wanted to see everything—the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain. And of course eat tons of pizza and gelato. This was going to be the best fortnight ever!Sindy was in Rome on a college exchange trip and was staying with a girl called Bella and her family. Bella lived up to her name. She was truly beautiful with her long dark curls and sparkling smile. Sindy helped Bella with her English; Bella helped Sindy with her Italian. Perfetto!
At first, Sindy felt a little nervous. Bella’s family were clearly well off. They lived in a “palazzo” surrounded by a large garden with an orchard and fountains. Bella’s mother always wore designer clothes and even had a maid and a cook. It was nothing like Sindy’s world. But the family were kind and welcoming and quickly put Sindy at her ease. The cook even made “some great British fish and chips for dinner” on Sindy’s first day to help her feel at home. It certainly was great, although Sindy was dying to try some real Italian food.
Bella’s magnificent house was filled with precious antique furniture and exquisite art, apparently including a priceless painting by the great artist Leonardo Da Vinci.
“It’s been in my family for generations,” Bella explained in hushed tones. Sindy was in awe.
The next morning, Sindy was having breakfast with the family when there was a knock on the door. It was a carpenter. He’d come to measure up for some new shelves. He was early, so the maid asked him to wait while the family finished breakfast.
The dining room door was ajar, and Sindy could see the man waiting in the room next door. He was tall and heavily built, dressed in black with a beard, and eyes that darted from side to side. He kept sighing and mopping his brow with a handkerchief.
After a while, Bella’s mother asked Sindy to take the man a cup of coffee. But when she walked into the room, the carpenter, who was carrying a large toolbox, was rushing to the door. On his way out, a card fell out of his pocket. Sindy picked up the card and put it in her pocket. I wonder why he was in such a hurry, she thought.
Bella had to go to college that day. “We’ll go to the gelato bar afterwards,” she said to Sindy. “Ciao!”
After Bella left, there was a big commotion. The maid and the cook were gathered around Bella’s mother, who was talking at high speed. Although Sindy couldn’t understand most of what was said, she knew that Bella’s mother kept saying “Da Vinci” and “gone”.
The Da Vinci painting had been stolen!
Sindy remembered the carpenter. He had rushed off and looked really agitated. Could he have been the thief? She tried to explain her thoughts to Bella’s mother in Italian, but couldn’t find the words. Then Sindy remembered she had a clue—the card she had picked up. She pulled it out of her pocket. It was for a pizzeria. Perhaps Sindy could solve the mystery on her own.
Sindy asked the cook for directions and whether she could borrow her scooter before hopping on and heading to the pizzeria. She knew that it was near the famous Trevi Fountain. The fountain was so romantic and pretty that in other circumstances she would have wanted to stay there all day. Instead, she threw a coin into the cool water and made a wish to find the Da Vinci before heading to the restaurant which was around the corner. Inside, Sindy asked if the waitress knew the carpenter, describing him with the help of her phrase book. “Si, si! Antonio!” said the waitress. In broken English, she explained that Antonio had a picture framing shop near another spectacular landmark—the Colosseum. “He loves art!” she added.
Sindy jumped back on to her scooter and followed the signs towards the Colosseum. The sight of the magnificent ancient amphitheatre took her breathe away. She wanted to go inside and take a proper look, but she had a mystery to solve. She finally found the framing shop down a little narrow street, but it was closed. Sindy rang the bell but there was no reply. It looked like she’d reached a dead end. If the carpenter was the thief he was probably on a plane flying out of Italy by now with the priceless painting in his suitcase.
Sindy was about to leave when an old lady called down from the flat above. In Italian, she asked, “Are you looking for Antonio?” Sindy understood and nodded.
She pointed to the left. “Ospedale.” Sindy looked up the word in her phrase book. Antonio was at the hospital. Perhaps he’d got injured trying to run away. There was a chance that she could save the painting after all.
Again Sindy used her phrase book to find her way to the hospital, and once there spoke to the receptionist, but without the man’s full name, she couldn’t tell her where he was.
Then Sindy saw the back of a familiar hulking frame, dressed all in black. She rushed towards him not sure what she was going to say, suddenly feeling nervous. Sindy was standing just behind Antonio and was about to open her mouth when he turned around.
Then Sindy got the surprise of her life.
Antonio was holding something truly priceless. It was a newborn baby.
Suddenly everything fell into place. Antonio wasn’t the thief after all. He had looked so nervous because his wife was having a baby. That’s why he rushed off in such a hurry. Feeling a little foolish, Sindy smiled at the carpenter. Then she looked something up in her phrase book. “Complimenti,” she said. “Congratulations.”
Sindy arrived back at the house to see Bella’s mother at the window, still looking very upset. The Da Vinci painting must still be missing. Just then Sindy heard a funny mewing noise. It was coming from a pear tree at the bottom of the garden. When she took a closer look, Sindy discovered a pretty white kitten among the branches. He was wearing a diamante collar and looked frightened. Without a second thought, Sindy climbed up the tree to rescue the cat. As she cuddled him, he started to purr. “You’re so cute,” Sindy said. “I wonder who you belong to.”
Clutching the kitten, Sindy rang the doorbell and when the maid answered the door, there was the second great commotion of the day. “Da Vinci! Da Vinci!” she was shouting, taking the kitten from Sindy and giving it to Bella’s mother.
What was going on?
“Da Vinci!” said Bella’s mother, her face lighting up. At that moment, Bella arrived home. After some words with her mother, she explained to Sindy that Da Vinci is their kitten. Her mother had been looking for him all day and thought that he was lost for good.
Sindy giggled. It seemed that she had found the missing Da Vinci after all.
“Oh Sindy, you must have had such a boring day,” said Bella as they walked to her room. “Tomorrow we’ll see the sights. I’ll take you to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and then I know this great little pizzeria…”
Sindy laughed. “That sounds wonderful.”