Wine consumption, Grease Spreaders and More Lizards…

Hi all,

Well I’ve had a friend here this week so there’s been a lot of sight seeing which has been great. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now seen the villages that I’ve been looking at from a distance in my apartment every day. I’ll write up a page on each area when I get time but meanwhile:

  • Osimo: It’s a bit bigger than Camerano (where I am). It’s still on a hill with a great view like pretty much all the hill top towns do. It’s got a fab little park which would be lovely to sit in and people watch. There are a few shops as well and in general, it seems like it could be a good place to live in or around.
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Park bit in Osimo overlooking a beautiful panorama of the sea and countryside. This photo doesn’t do it justice, it was rainy and horrid!

  • Castelfidardo: Is another little hill top town. Not much to say about this one – there didn’t seem to be much in the way of shops or anything that made it stand out from anything else apart from it has an Accordion Museum. I wouldn’t want to live there…
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The Accordian Shop / Museum. Possibly just a shop. Or a museum. It was closed (I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Closed? What in Italy? At like, 4pm on a weekday? That never happens” but let me tell you, on this one occasion, this shop/museum was shut.

  • Loreto: Loreto is another hill top town. I recognise that there’s a theme in my choice of places to visit – I think my criteria for the next apartment/house is fast becoming “must be on a hill” though I do wonder sometimes if it means something about my personality that I like to look down on things ;-). Anyway, Loreto is apparently known for being the home of the Black Madonna who works miracles. Excellent to know. It’s got a big square with a fountain in the middle and it’s surrounded by very majestic looking buildings and a rather magnificent cathedral (Basilica della Santa Casa) at one end. If you’re catholic, it’s THE place to go. Particularly if you want to stock up on crucifixes from the surrounding tourist shops. There’s a street of shops that leads from the square to a church at the end other and that’s about it in terms of the main “town”. There doesn’t appear to be much general living accommodation apart from at the base of the hill in the valley, there’s a bunch of apartment blocks. My hill requirement rules that out for living but I really like Loreto. Well worth a visit.
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Loreto and the piazza

  • Sirolo: For avid readers, you’ll know I’ve been here already but last week was the first time I’ve been to San Michele beach which is a long (and narrowish) stretch of shingle/sand beach to the side of Mount Conero. It’s a bit frustrating to get to. You have to walk down the mountain a bit to get there but hopefully that means it’ll be less packed in the summer. I’ll do my duty and test this beach out for you, dear readers. We went to a restaurant – Da Silvio which was really lovely – overlooking the beach and would be fabulous on a hot summers day. Don’t be put off by the emptiness and the threatening looking waiters/chefs outside. They have only fish dishes I think, but they made me a veggie pasta which was delicious.
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Spiaggia San Michele. It was rammed.

  • Jesi: Jesi is NOT a hill top town 🙂 And I like it! I haven’t seen much of it – the weather has been very temperamental this last couple of weeks and the first time I went with a friend from the Language School, it was absolutely bucketing down. The second time it was for dinner with some other friends and we didn’t do so much looking around then. Jesi seems like it would be good to live near. Not on a hill though 😉 However, having said that, yesterday was “Cantine Aperto” (more on that below) which was in the Jesi area and the scenery around that area was just breathtaking. I could most definitely live around there.
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Taken from one of the Cantina’s around Jesi.

  • Macerata: This was a 50 minute drive away. I’d heard good things about the area around Macerata and it was indeed lovely (hilly wouldn’t you know ;-)) and it was quite a nice little town – much bigger than the smaller hill top towns I think – akin to Jesi. It had a cinema. So – I would live around Macerata as well – it would definitely be I think a nice place to go for meals and drinks.
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This photo’s a bit misleading – and in fact, I don’t know what it is. It looked good. But to go over and take a proper look required darting through traffic so I admired from afar…

  • Porto Recanati. This place should be a thriving seaside resort but because we’re still a full 5 days from summer, was completely empty. I actually left feeling as empty as it was. It was like when Will Smith wanders around the vacant city in ‘I Am Legend’. If there was tumbleweed, it would have been blowing. There were lots of vacant apartments, all a bit unkempt apart from maybe one or two (where Will Smith lived?) and a revolting skyscraper tower block at one end (why WHY do that to the seaside?!).

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    Porto Recanati – those doors are probably hiding zombies…

So, let me tell you about “Cantine Aperto”. I think in England, a place where you make wine is called a winery (that’s right eh?). The Italian’s call them Cantina’s. It seems to be anything from an actual legitimate business to someone’s cellar. But in this instance, I’m talking about the former. “Aperto” means open. I think the event is best described as a “Wine Tasting Tour / Drive Driving Expedition”. You pay 5 Euros which gives you a wine glass and a very becoming yellow wine glass holding bag that you put around your neck.  And then with your wine glass and your bag in hand/around neck, you drive around to, let me see, up to 71 (yes SEVENTY ONE) winery’s and have as many glasses of their wine as you want. And sometimes grappa (which I imagine is what petrol tastes like). And lots of lovely snacks. And then you drive to the next one. And then drive to the next one…. you get the idea. We went with the school and I think they knew the best cantina’s to go to so despite the weather starting off a bit grim, we had a great day marveling at the scenery and trying out the wines (and then came back and had some of my 88 cent wine and agreed that we couldn’t tell the difference). It’s an annual event (last Sunday of May) and I thoroughly recommend it. But I must say, I really can’t imagine that there is a more dangerous place to be than on a road in Le Marche on Cantine Aperto day. I’ll definitely go to the next one (though I might wear a neck brace as precautionary measure).

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One of the cantina’s. I did, for blogging purposes, try and make a note of the Cantina’s we went to but confess, I soon lost track. No idea wine, I mean why…

This is my last week at the language school! 4 days left. I’m quite scared!  This will be the first time, apart from holidays, where my life has been completely unstructured! No dull job to go to, no school to go to… My life in London was busy – work every day and out every evening and weekend seeing people or going places. Doing “nothing” for me, is or rather was, always incredibly unsettling. I mean – there are things to do, places to go, people to see… WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING?! But my life here has been: school in the morning, homework, trips and pottering around a bit every day. It’s been a massive change and one I was a bit skeptical I could make without developing some sort of nervous tic but it’s been a relatively smooth transition. I’m surprised at myself. But next week and thereafter will be the greatest test so far of my ability to remain sane in the absence of a rigid agenda so watch this space. Next week’s post might be from some sort of asylum.

Having said that, I do have vague plans – I’ve decided to only apply timescales in the loosest possible sense to avoid inevitably missing them because I’ve not got some piece of “vital” paperwork but in general: I’m going to try and do some private teaching, I’m going to see if I can carry on with the Italian lessons but maybe just a couple of hours a week, I’m going to see if I can start progressing the paperwork that I need to get a car, and meanwhile I’m going to see if I can stay here in the apartment until the end of July to give me some time to a) get a car and b) find somewhere nice to live.

In other news, I have a confession to make. I haven’t taken the bins out since I’ve been here. There’s a detailed schedule of bin takings out (cardboard one day, glass the next, regular rubbish another, organic waste another, nappies another – thankfully not having to worry about that one at the moment. Not unless the bin situation becomes significantly more stressful) and I haven’t really grasped it. But now… well….there’s a backlog. And if I didn’t know how to get rid of the bins in the first place, I certainly don’t know how to get rid of a backlog. This week, I will be closely monitoring bin activities in the neighbourhood. And if I’ve still not cottoned on to it by next week, I’m going to go on evening walks to distribute the rubbish in bins in Piazza Roma. I mean, that wont look at all odd (“Crazy Lizard Photographying Near Naked Rubbish Distributing English Girl”).

That reminds me, here’s a picture of some lizards near school (one can never have too many lizard photos eh?):

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I call this one ‘Where’s Lizzy?’. I might do a lizard version of ‘Where’s Wally’.

I’ve decided I have enough material to have a regular “what’s a bit odd” section on my blog posts. So today’s feature: Grease Spreaders. Do you remember “skid paper” that they used to have instead of toilet paper in school (showing my age here perhaps)? It was basically a roll of tracing paper. I don’t want to dwell on the detail here but er, yes, not absorbent in the slightest… But in Italy, they have something similar: “skid napkins” if you will… If you go to a pizzeria, bar, anywhere I think that’s not a proper sit down restaurant, you are supplied with these “skid napkins” but they serve only to spread the grease further around your face. I’ve decided a more becoming term is “Grease Spreaders”.

And finally finally, I’ve found someone that wants crew in Croatia. I would have had to rule that out in the UK I think but Croatia is easy and cheap for me to get to – there are ferries there that run at least once a day from Ancona. Hopefully something might materialise of that.

And now, I need to prepare salad. Today has been a serious diet day to atone for the copious wine consumption yesterday…

Hope you’re all well.

X

Ps. Aww, WordPress have just wished me a happy anniversary – it’s been a year since starting the blog. How times flies…

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