Well I’ve had a busy week. I chickened out of not doing any lessons – Marco gave me a good deal on some group lessons (well I use “group” in the loosest sense – there were two of us) so that’s been every morning with a new teacher and I’ve got another teacher again next week. And when I say a good deal, it’s only really because he’s said it’s a good deal rather than given me a price or anything in writing. It’s er, very laid back here. It’s been quite good to mix up the teachers actually – different techniques, and teaching style. Perhaps one day something will sink in!
Monday, was another “cooking course” night at Marco’s place. I joking asked if I could just go to eat and I’m pleased to report that it worked. I went there at about 8pm for some very tasty home-made gnocchi. We went to a bar afterwards, the one under my apartment which almost completes my bar circuit of Camerano – I think there is maybe two more to try but I might even consider giving one of them a miss (where the old men sit in a row and stare at me as I walk past on my way to the supermarket). We had a very interesting chat about the mafia that night too – it seems an unsolvable problem here. I might do a bit more reading about it. I don’t like unsolvable problems.
We had a school trip to Urbino – Urbino’s a lovely hill top town – lots of scenic hills around and a lot of life inside because it’s got a well known and established university there. Walt Disney apparently got his inspiration from the architecture there. We went into the Ducale Palazza Museum and had a look around. Again, Marco reeled off names, dates, history, artists, architects without breaking a sweat… That man should leave his head to medical science. Alas, all I took from it was that the Duke really should have had his artists and sculptors shot – I would not have had pictures of me like that in my house. Here he is, the handsome devil – Federico III da Montefeltro.
- Urbino – Walt Disney’s Inspiration
My boiler is temperamental. It looks like it’s been here since the beginning of time. And I wake up feeling groggy and hungover in the mornings (I know what you’ll say, “too much 88 cent wine Sue?” but no, it’s not…). I’ve decided I’m slowly getting carbon monoxide poisoned. I wonder if it’s cumulative? The boiler man has actually been a couple of times so I would hope he’d have established if there was a leak. Anyway, I’m going to keep the windows open now just in case. There’s a new woman, a Russian moving in the apartment today for a week, and then some Americans the week after for a month I think. I suspect I’m not actually being poisoned but will be interesting to compare notes with the others (if they make it through. I hope they do. I’d feel quite guilty. And maybe actually responsible. Hmm. Perhaps I should remove this paragraph. Carabinieri: If you’re reading this, I didn’t REALLY think I was being poisoned and also, please skip over the next paragraph).
This week, I tried to declare my presence (dichiarazione di presenza) to the Carabinieri (one of the police forces in Italy headed up by the army in fact) who, when I eventually got through to them, were closed Thursday until 4pm. Closed! The police! CLOSED!!!), and said that I needed to go to the Comune (sort of town hall, mine has a nice website), who, you’ll be shocked, were also closed. All day. On a Thursday. There are no office hours on the websites or on the doors. When their alarms go off in the morning, do you think they do a quick physical and mental scan and think “Nah…. b*gger that. I think I’ll go to the beach today”? Anyway, I have to declare my presence to somebody within 8 days of arriving in the country. To whom? I don’t know. And where? I don’t know. And why? Not the foggiest. What the consequences of doing it 30 days after the 8 days are up? No idea!
Next week’s challenge will be to get a codice fiscal (the Italian equivalent of the National Insurance number) and a Carta di Residenza. I think I’ll need to make a trip into Ancona for those. Please all send happy bureaucracy vibes from Monday.
Yesterday I’m thrilled to say I finally got some sailing in! And my idyllic vision of sailing around the coast, stopping for a bit of sunbathing and swimming was pretty much exactly what happened 🙂 It was a lovely sailing boat too (Bavaria – 37 feet possibly?), the nicest I’ve been on yet and very spacious. The guys went snorkelling to get what looked like a wide array of muscles, cockles etc. from the reef we stopped near and then we teamed up with another boat in the evening for seafood pasta (bruschetta for me) and some drinks. And I overcame my mild fear of jellyfish as one touched my arm as I was swimming and it didn’t even hurt (I’ve decided it wasn’t a Portugese Man of War). All in all, a lovely evening and didn’t get back until gone 1am.
So let me update you on my Italian learning. Every day is like an old style family gathering consisting of Charades and Pictionary… I have fun. It makes me laugh. But, but, ARGH!!!!!! In a group, it’s IMPOSSIBLE! You can’t get members of a group that are chatting at the speed of light and laughing to stop to mime something out… If you pluck up the courage and ask, then the extensive mime / explanation ruins their joke… If you smile and laugh along, you risk being asked an incomprehensible question and them finding out you’ve not understood a word, but if you don’t smile and laugh along, you look like a miserable sod! In summary, I’ve become an atmosphere killer!!! I don’t want to kill atmospheres!!!
And let me tell you something else – the Italians, if you’re not clear about something and the miming hasn’t worked and if they do know a bit of English that they learnt at school when they were 5 for a maybe a week at summer school, then they’re still able to launch into a very acceptable level of English with such a comprehensive array of English vocab that even I would struggle to come up with. And they keep saying “ah, but your Italian isn’t THAT bad considering you’ve only been here a month”. But then, I’ve had 4 years worth of lessons off and on! 4 YEARS! When I meet new people I’m going to say I’ve had a month of lessons so that I can maintain face. Though I think they’d have become proficient in 3 languages in the same month period.
I’ve joined a website to acquire some people to speak Italian too. I’ll need a string of people so that when one decides that it’s too exhausting talking to me (see above), I’ll have another lined up 🙂 Alas, its members appear to think it’s a dating website (it’s not!), and well not even “dating” given some of the messages I’ve been getting :-o. Anyway, it’s been amusing me immensely. You should see some of their pictures – professionally taken photos of them sprawled on sun loungers wearing only budgie smugglers – I have to look through my hands at them. However, I’ve acquired a couple of Italian messenger-ees through it that seem to be vaguely normal – it’s been quite good, a slower more controlled way of talking to people so I can make sure I’m saying what I want to say before I have to say it.
My neighbour came around a couple of days ago bearing battered courgette flowers (battered as in fried in batter, not er, knocked about) which was lovely of him. He’s an artist and lives with his mum and dad next door. It was quite a successful visit – he’s got an apartment or a house in Camerano for rent which he’s going to show me around tomorrow and he’s given me an open invite to eat dinner with them whenever I want. And I’m less fussed about killing atmospheres in close family settings so that might be quite good for the language quest too. Hmm. I wonder what I could get them to mime?
What’s a bit odd: This week’s feature – chocolate! I haven’t had a single chocolate bar since I came here – not a one. Not through lack of trying. The supermarkets sell like the big bars which look like they’re for cooking with rather than eating and at the tills, they have mints and chewing gum – I mean honestly, that’s not very enticing is it?! Who thinks “Mmmm I could really do with a mint right now”? Actually people probably do. But still, I think the Italian’s surely must be missing a trick? It’s a rare chocolate bar display that I’ve walked past without purchasing something from. They could probably retire off my chocolate purchases alone. And let’s face it, their now booming yoghurt trade (oh, something terrible has happened – I was reduced to buying a new yoghurt brand as it’s the only one my local store stocks and it’s nasty! Ugh!). Marco keeps asking me why I need to get a car – why don’t I just rent he asks? It’s because I want to be able to get around under my own steam, I say. But really, it’s because I want to be able to go to Auchan and buy yoghurt.
<10 minutes later> My new housemate has arrived from Russia with chocolates (From Russia with Chocolates… the makings of a good film?) – I like her a lot already. She’s gone to get a pizza and left the chocolates on the table.
Right, that’s me done for this week. Have a good week all 🙂