This week’s been packed. This not working malarkey is exhausting 😉
We’ve had earthquakes this week. EARTHQUAKES! Just small ones – 3.9 on Thursday and 2.9 Friday and I’m sure there was an even smaller one today but it hasn’t been reported so perhaps not. I’m not sure how I feel about earthquakes. “Fearful” seems to be the consensus with the Italians and they’ve had such terrible earthquakes in the past that have killed a lot of people and caused a lot of damage that that’s the rational response. Me, however, being a complete novice to earthquakes and these being minor, have been lying there with the bed shaking thinking “wow….. cooooool”. It’s really very impressive – this natural force that can shake buildings. I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to be in one before. Anyway, on reflection, I think getting under the bed would be more productive than just lying there in a state of awe.
I had some success at the Comune on Tuesday morning, albeit limited. It turns out there’s a secret hidden entrance that’s not the large official looking set of doors at the front of the building. Thank goodness for random passersby. I wondered if there might be a secret knock as well but no. The office I needed was closed, as of course, all good offices are on a Tuesday morning. I had a challenging conversation with the information folk there about what I needed to do to live here. Nobody wants my dichiarazione di presenza so I’ve given up on that. It’s all about getting an Iscrizione anagrafica dei cittadini stranieri now. One of those is basically a sort of foreign person registration. I need to prove that: I have some income, that I’m a student (or that I’m working which I’m not), and that I have health insurance so that I don’t become a drain on the Italian health system. According to the Comune, my European Health Insurance Card isn’t enough. And I’m not sure my travel insurance is either despite it having medical cover. I think they’d be content with an expensive private medical insurance but I don’t understand why I would need that – we’ve an agreement between the European countries that we’re entitled to a level of healthcare I thought? Nobody seems to be able to enlighten me. Websites all offer differing advice. I’ve emailed the Italian Embassy in the UK and the UK embassy in Italy – hopefully I’ll get a response next week.
So, that will be next week’s task. And then after that, I might be able to get a codice fiscale and a carta di residenza but that’s only 3 months after I’ve been here. I think I can change back to my actual date of arrival in Italy now that there don’t seem to be any implications of not having declared my presence earlier.
I didn’t get around to seeing the neighbour’s place last week – I popped around on Sunday morning and spoke to the guy’s mum who was absolutely lovely but the son was still asleep. And then the son came around later in the week with some more battered courgette flowers and some stuffed courgettes and invited me around to dinner whenever I want again but I didn’t have time to see the house. So, I’ll hopefully see the house tomorrow and maybe get a dinner 🙂
I had a new teacher this week, Laura, she’s very good and I like her a lot but the sessions were exhausting. I have massive difficulties getting my head around the fact that some things are swapped around in Italian e.g. “he told me” is “mi ha detto”, literally translated as “me he told”. I think I react to pronoun quizzing “how would you say, ‘they gave to us?’” in the same way that people react to being tortured. By the end of Friday I had both hands in my hair and was rocking back and forth in the chair. The other thing they swap around is the nouns and adjectives – “the sea blue”, not “the blue sea” which seems alien to me. I raised it with Marco earlier in the week claiming that the English way was clearly more logical. Look at that car….? What car?! The blue one? The red one? Why the unnecessary delay in describing things?! His argument: When someone’s on their deathbed and says “I have to tell you one last thing…our family has a really big <dramatic pause whilst final spark of life is extinguished>…..”, what good is the adjective?! Admittedly, I can see that it *might* just be more useful to get the noun across first in deathbed scenarios.
We did a few nice school trips this week. By a week or two into being in Italy, I’d already been to more churches than I’d been to in my entire life – this week has seen my church attendance sky rocket.
- Ancona – around the old part of town by the cathedral at the top of one of the hills and then along by the port. Another interesting trip – Ancona has a lot of history, some of which has come more apparent following an earthquake a few years ago. A lot of buildings were destroyed, and because of that, they found an old roman amphitheater underneath apartments. Very interesting.
Ancona – the port
Looking towards the cathedral – where that carpark was, used to be a building but it was destroyed in an earthquake and people didn’t have the money to rebuild…
- Abbadia di fiastro – is a lovely nature reserve set in the midst of some beautiful countryside – it used to be a monastery and in fact, I think there are still monks living there. It’s free to look around – there are a few shops and places to eat and a church of course and it’s interesting to walk around the buildings there. The monks used to / still make wine, and they’ve got a whole secret underground passageway thing going on where I think they used to keep it and hide from their enemies. I suspect that took the edge off hiding eh?
Abbadia di Fiastra
- Tolentino – is a little town around Macerata (province of Le Marche) with two giant cathedrals. One of which I think is the most extravagant cathedral I’ve seen so far. They really went to town with the gold leaf. We’d just been to see the church in Abbadia di Fiastro which was completely plain – the monks wanted to be poor and would give everything back to their community (nice bunch really). This cathedral seemed to have the opposite approach. The ceiling alone had life sized figures of important people – it took apparently 5 years to finish the ceiling and it cost an insane amount of money to do. It looked very impressive but perhaps a bit over the top. And there’s a museum underneath the main cathedral – if you go to the cathedral, it’s definitely worth having a look at that. They have this sort of theatre style nativity lightshow scene going on… it puts every other nativity scene I’ve seen to shame.
The altar at the cathedral in Tolentino
- San Severino – this is a town in one of the valleys around Macerata though actually I think it extends to a couple of churches on the hill too and a viewpoint looking over the main town. It’s unusual because it’s got quite a large oblong shaped piazza – most piazzas are square here. Went to see a church close by on the basis of it having some interesting frescos, and it did indeed. The artists at the time were experimenting with different ways of painting people.
- Monte Conero – Every week there’s usually a walk with the school as well – this time around the top of Monte Conero to Belvedere Nord where there are some spectacular views of the sea and coastline. Monte Conero is great. Great, great, great.
- Beaches – I’ve been to San Michele beach in Sirolo a couple of times this week – the first time, I’d walked a couple of hours through blistering desert conditions dreaming of lying on the beach and having a dip in the sea. It was ROASTING. Barely a cloud in the sky. And then the moment I sat down exhausted on the beach, the skies opened! Grr. And it was a Sunday so the buses only ran 3 times a day so I had to wait an hour and a half for the bus. I have this pair of shoes – they have magical powers, as well as very holey soles. Whenever I wear them out, it will rain. Without fail. I should donate them to a drought ridden country. The second time was with my new housemate earlier in the week – I’d left the Rain Shoes at home so finally sat out on the beach and had a swim. The water was a bit nasty – rammed with detritus. Apparently that’s what happens this time of year and then because it’s got lots of vegetation in it, it attracts jellyfish (or medusa’s if you’re Italian – what an apt name). I think the sea will be a more attractive option in a month or two.
The new housemate is now old housemate! She left this morning. It was nice to have her here. She was lovely and massively enthusiastic (particularly about Sirolo, she didn’t fancy venturing anywhere else after the first visit there), but I must say, communication was a bit of a challenge. She was starting out from scratch with Italian really and her English was a similar level and my Russian, well, I’ve let it slip to be honest (knowing only how to say “niet, he beat me, give that man his money” from the film Rounders in a dodgy “Russian” accent. Alas she hadn’t seen the film). So conversations were conducted in Italian and went thusly:
Sue: Do you want to go to the bar?
Sue: Or we could stay in?
Sue: You don’t understand anything I’m saying do you?
And you know the coffee that goes into those espresso machines that you put on the hob? Well, that stuff doesn’t dissolve. It’s not instant coffee. But she’d have a spoonful or so in hot water every day. I wouldn’t have imagined that would be drinkable.
This week there’s no school! My first week of no school! There’s not even an option to chicken out when I get bored and go to some lessons because there’s no other students at school this week either. I seem to have a lot of bits and pieces to do so hopefully I should be able to entertain myself reasonably well. It’ll give me some time to do some self study – I hope.
What else? I might be sailing to Croatia beginning of July with the bunch that I went out with last week but I’ll see if there’s space.
I’m having a quiet Saturday today – I think there’s some event on in the piazza today so I might pop up and see what that’s about!
Buonasera all and hope you’re all well 🙂