Earthquakes, prisons for cats & explorations…

Buonasera,

I hope you’re all well.

Things are moving along here. On the earthquake front, we’re still getting quite a lot of tremors, still magnitudes 3 and 4 which aren’t insignificant. I guess it will take a while for the earth to settle down. I had never realised before just quite how long it takes for the aftershocks to stop after a big quake. It could be a year or more.

Storms and high winds (Sirocco winds from North Africa that can get to 100km an hour) have not aided progress. On my first day back from my UK visit I’d set up a tent in my neighbour’s garden as a place to hang out when I was ‘back home’, and hypothetically speaking, to store stuff rescued from my house (not that I would ever, of course, consider entering it as once it’s been declared dangerous, it’s illegal to  enter and you can be fined heavily). Anyway, imagine my frustration when I discovered the following day that the tent had been ripped up and destroyed by the wind in the night with all of the stuff I had managed to rescue from my house.

Just down my little road of a kilometer or less there were about five trees ripped up, blocking the road and lots more on the way back to ‘Home Two’ in Ripatransone.

They call our emergency centre in Sarnano ‘Base Camp’ – it makes me feel like I’m  about to climb Everest each time I go in! It’s a lot quieter there now with people having been moved out to hotels and apartments closer to the sea. The town centre is still closed and will remain that way for a while – there are very precarious tiles and chimneys that have come down that are balancing on  roofs and that will all need to be sorted before people will be allowed back.

Next week the structural engineers will start doing property checks around the area. I really don’t know what they’ll say with regard to my place – whether it will need to be knocked down and rebuilt or whether there’s a chance it can be restored somehow. I’ve had promising chats with a Structural Engineer who says that perhaps my main concern – ‘the Bulgy Wall’ can be replaced and other measures put in place to make it more structurally sound. However, it’s never going to be great – basically in the event of another earthquake the amendments would just give me more time to get out before it crumbles! On the other hand if they do knock it down, I should be entitled to a new home, but what if I don’t like it?! I don’t imagine I get much of a choice of design and with the building being shared by three others it will be difficult to agree a solution we’re all happy with. On the plus side, hopefully it wouldn’t crumble around me in my sleep so there are swings and roundabouts!

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The Bulgy Wall

Meanwhile, single displaced residents like I am get 300 euros towards accommodation and there’s talk of container houses being available before Christmas and wooden huts in the Spring. It’s difficult to piece together what’s rumour and what’s reality at the moment and I suspect the powers that be don’t have all the answers yet either.

Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying my new home in the hills surrounding a little town called Ripatransone. The cat has settled in really well, I think he’s probably happier here away from ‘Evil Cat’ who used to attack him every time he left our old house. Now he has a very naughty little puppy to contend with, a 3yr old ‘mouse catching champion’ dog and two other cats.

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This is Batfink relaxed in his new home – he likes his head being stroked! I’m not throttling him, honest.

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Despite looking innocent, this is a very naughty puppy. We aren’t talking at the moment. He pooed on my carpet and then I unwittingly trod in it with bare feet (just after I’d done my nails which further rubbed salt into the wound).

The apartment is lovely and even has central heating – a complete novelty to me – so much so that I just can’t work out how it works!

The countryside around the house is really interesting and different from further north in Le Marche where my house is. I don’t have my decent camera at the moment but you get the idea…

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Those sort of protrusions of oddly shaped rock are called Calanchi. There’s lots of them in this area. I was quite pleased to capture this lovely rainbow!

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And the vineyards are spectacular at the moment.

I’ve finally done some exploring of some of the local towns which has been great. I’ve been to…

Offida

Offida is known for its yearly carnival which is apparently something to behold. Maybe this year I’ll have the opportunity to go. It’s also known for its tradition of bobbin lace making. My friend and I saw one woman who was demonstrating ‘lace’ jewellery in action – I thought I might get an idea of how it was done but she was impossibly fast! Even Offida has been impacted by the earthquake. The main square was full of firemen and vehicles and many of the buildings are cordoned off.

The people of Offida are very strict though; imprisoning cats for their wrong doings. Who knows how long this one has yet to serve…

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Cossignano

Cossignano is in an even worse state than Offida with a lot of the streets cordoned off. The damage to the buildings was perhaps a bit more obvious in parts too. From the bits we could see, it looks very quaint. It’s a lot smaller than Offida. We found a lovely, empty restaurant called Elvira serving really nice cremini (bread-crumbed deep fried squares of custard… mmmm), giant portions of delicious pasta and some absolutely foul home-made alcoholic distillation of something (old socks?).

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Cupra Marittima

Cupra is a seaside town. I’m not endeared by many of the Italian seaside towns and this was no exception! They’re just a bit plain and uniform and well, I prefer quaint! HOWEVER, there IS Cupra Marittima Alta (‘alta’ means high) which is on the overlooking hill and that is absolutely lovely. It’s a very cute little village where it feels like all you do is walk upwards. We didn’t see anyone else wandering around. We did find the only bar / restaurant though, Pensione Castello, and had a nice meal there. It’s rated number one in the area on Trip Advisor and specialises in fish. They did a good job at providing something for me though as a vegetarian. I would definitely go back in the summer, if only for the views which are spectacular and overlook the sea.

Grottammare

Grottammare is similar to Cupra. It’s a seaside town which is pretty plain as far as I can establish but again has an absolutely lovely ‘alta’ part which I’ve been to earlier in the year and thought was great. I did take photos then though I can’t track them down for the moment. They had a food festa on last week where the streets were lined with stalls selling everything from chocolate to all manner of repulsive looking meats (there was one man stirring some stomachs and intestines around in a saucepan – deeeelicious).

Petritoli

Petritoli is another cute hill top town that’s worth a visit. I got lost on the way to the supermarket and ended up here so it was a rather quick visit but I’ll certainly go back.

Ripatransone

And lastly Ripatransone which is now my nearest town – it has the smallest street in Italy (the world? Universe?). I can confirm it’s very small. Next time I’ll take a picture. I almost had to shimmy down it. It’s also got an amphitheatre where they have operas in the summer. We had a chat with an old lady for about half an hour whilst she gave us a bit of history of the town. I like it when that happens – it really is nice when people are so friendly and I think she liked sharing her knowledge too. The photo’s below are from the old wash-house where women used to wash their clothes with water that was piped down from a spring on the local hill. There were some tops hanging up – perhaps the tradition is still on-going!

 

Well I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks. I’ve been busy sketching and painting this week which has been a nice change from packing and unpacking! If you want to receive painting updates as and when they happen, follow me on A Painting Occasionally  (click the three lines on the right hand side for the “Follow” option!

A presto,

xxx

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9 thoughts on “Earthquakes, prisons for cats & explorations…

  1. Laurie

    Love your blog! My two friends and I want to buy property in Italy and have seriously considered Le Marche. To your knowledge are there any parts less affected by earthquakes? We don’t want a village or any place too small. Thanks!

    • Thanks Laurie! 🙂 You know, I’m not even feeling the tremors at all where I am at the moment in Ripatransone. The coast of Le Marche isn’t as badly effected. There were a couple of magnitude 4’s I think 3 years ago when I first moved over in Ancona which is on the coast but nobody hurt. I think basically there’s a risk you’ll feel the big ones regardless of where you are in Le Marche but if you have an anti-seismic house you should be fine. This earthquake has affected Macerata quite badly but further north and further south has been largely ok. Maybe Ascoli Piceno or if you want more seaside – Civitanova or Grottamare / San Benedetto / Porto San Giorgio! Up north, towns like Jesi and Senigallia are nice.

      • Laurie

        Thank you for getting back to me so quickly and with so much information too! I see we have a lot more research to do. I’ll look into all the places you’ve suggested.

  2. I’m so glad that you’ve got a roof over your head and can’t believe how calm you sound in your blog. I hope your bulging wall gets sorted and you and your beautiful puss can move back safely soon. Sending hugs, xxx

    • Thanks Liz! It’s funny – I get so worked up over little things and then stuff like this happens and it sort of puts everything into perspective! I think it’s more resignation than calmness 😉 Anyway, onwards and upwards! Hope you’re all good, would love to catch up again one of these days! x

  3. You’re a little way from your home then Sue, and good you’re settling in your home 2 ok. It was a scary experience. Oh it would be so nice to have central heating but expensive – we just have a temperamental stufa a pellet but it functions ok and also a movable stufa a gas. But this week the sun is glorious and warm. Ciao

    • Hi there! Thanks for your message. Yes, it’s precisely one hour and three minutes from Sarnano 😉 Feels like 4 hours though for some reason. The central heating is certainly expensive – I can’t work out how to turn the silly thing off! Beautiful weather here this week. Whereabouts are you then? I assume you’re not always in the lovely West Dorset area (you know, I’ve explored a lot of Italy, but not much of my own country which is ridiculous! The Jurassic Coast is on my list!).

      • Hi Sue, we live in Montefalcone Appennino, had our smallish apartment (built in the 70s) for 9 years now and moved here permanently 2 years ago. West Dorset is where I was born and brought up and my website gives me an interest and things to do. I know, It’s easy not to explore your own country. Certainly enjoying the sun and very warm on the balcony and on my walk to Smerillo. Jurassic coast is a must 👌😀

      • Ah, I have a German friend in Montefalcone Appennino! I’ve only wandered around the woods at the bottom of the cliff but one day I’ll make it to the little town itself. Yes, it’s good to have a website – keeps things exciting 🙂 Have a good rest of week and perhaps I shall see you around! A presto 🙂

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