Posts Tagged With: Jesi

Travels up north, houses to buy and pretty sunsets…

Ciao a tutti!

Well……. have I got a lot to update on! I’ll try and be quick:

Falconara

Well, we’ve been living in Falconara for a while and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. I like it. I think Falconara might have some of the best sunsets of all time and it’s lovely walking along the beach in the evening. It is also the home of a small stretch of beach I’ve called “Seaglass Heaven” (I’m not being any more specific lest someone catches wind of it and takes all my seaglass!). The more I discuss Falconara with the people that dislike it, the more I decide that their rationale is not actually rational!

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Falconara beach – best sunset of all time?

Bustling festival in Jesi…

A couple of Saturday’s ago, we went to a bustling little festival in Jesi. I should have asked more questions about what the festival was in aid of but most people there didn’t seem to know either. There were people dressed up in religious outfits, parading up and down the streets but the best bit were the open tavernas which are basically private cellars, only open for a couple of days a year serving food and wine. Great atmosphere!

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Random guitar playing guy in the taverna!

Market in Montemarciano

I’ve discovered a new website (for me at least – I think it’s an old website!) www.marcheinfesta.it which promotes upcoming events up in the area. This, together with some festival posters dotted around, alerted us to a local town having a Festival of Spring. Montemarciano is only a 15 minute drive away (30 minutes for me who has problems understanding the cryptic directions of ‘Tom’ the Satellite Navigation Fool!) and was a pretty little town to wander around. The festival was characterised by loads of market stalls selling clothing (hmm, very spring like!).

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I suppose there wasn’t a great deal to Montemarciano but it did have a cool church and it was nice to wander around

House purchasing in Italy…

The next bit of exciting news is that I *may* have found a house to buy here in Italy. There, now I’ve jinxed it! The good bits first:  It’s advertised as a 3 bed house (potentially more) and has got fabulous views.  It also has a great cantina (cellar) which I think could be turned into a living space, a private little terrace on the roof and a cute little garden. Bad things: It’s somewhat in the middle of nowhere, the kitchen is decidedly small, and it’s not ACTUALLY a 3 bed house at the moment as the “upstairs” rooms can’t officially be classed as bedrooms and THERE’S NO BATH! Still, it’s at a very good price indeed so I’m planning to put an offer on it and we’ll see what happens. If you could all have your fingers crossed I would appreciate it! It’s set right next to the Sibilini mountains, it’s near Sarnano and the ski pistes in the winter so that’ll be a complete change from where I am now. Scary – but quite exciting! I’d love to have a home that I can finally do stuff to make it actually feel like home.

Touristy San Marino

I’ve finally ticked off something I’ve been meaning to do since I got here over a year ago – visit San Marino! It kick-started my birthday weekend away. San Marino is about an hour and a half  further north than Falconara, still in Le Marche. It had a very quaint historical centre spanning across three towers/castle type set-ups, while the outskirts basically consisted of a winding road with weird road markings, set between car showrooms. It had some amazing views and it was nice to wander around the shops. However, the shops were very touristy and sold exactly the same stuff – Leather goods (boooooo – why can’t people see that genuine leather is a bad thing?! Poor cows…), general tourist tat and rather curiously, guns, knives and swords!

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Quite a good view!

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Rare tourist free castle glimpse…

Handy gun shop

Handy gun shop. I’ve also been able to expand my samurai sword collection.

Surprisingly Alright Rimini

Rimini is a beach town. It’s alright – I’m not really that fussed by beach towns often so I’m surprised I quite like it. They often seem to have a lack of oomph about them. But Rimini has quite a nice historical town centre complete with castles and ruins but it’s quite young and lively too. The beach front has got long, sandy, wide beaches (alas, with back to back sunloungers and umbrellas). The drinks are expensive and even worse, seaglass and driftwood is non-existent! However you can walk into the sea a little way and stand on a sand ridge so that goes part way to make up for the lack of seaglass.

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Moody beach scene. It was misleadingly stormy looking – it was actually very warm and sunny! What do you reckon this wooden construction is?!

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Lifeguard house.  Ah-ha! Maybe the wooden construction in the last picture is the bottom of a lifeguard house?! All becomes clear….

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Arch leading to the town centre

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Nice large piazza numero uno

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Nice large piazza numero due

Pretty San Leo

San Leo is one of my favourite places. It’s a cute little hill-top town with a big fort. It’s nice to just wander around the town but it’s probably worth the 8 Euros to go into the fort too. The fort has some amazing views and there’s a torture room which was amusing at first (until you think that they actually used this stuff)…

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Taken from the base of the fort

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Sleepy main piazza in San Leo

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Majestic looking fort growing out of the mountainous outcrop

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I like this chair a lot. Very accommodating looking.

The photo below is of Cagliostro. He was kept prisoner at the fort…

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Was EVERYONE horrible looking a few hundred years ago? I mean, I understand that fashions change – but faces? Why do all portraits of that era show bulbous eyed, no-necked, flabby mouthed people? Did they have an influx of evil portrait painters or did people actually look like that? Who would have ever let this portrait see the light of day?! I can only imagine his confident smirk here showed him before he viewed the portrait. I suspect the ‘after’ portrait would have been of a depressed alcoholic.

School – the end is nigh…

The end is nigh! I’ve got another two weeks. The grand finale is a show with the Infants. Following on from the successful hit of the Christmas show with them in December, I’ve been allocated a 20 minute slot for an all singing and dancing English extravaganza. It’s going to be a disaster. The first song is a particularly monotonous guitar piece called “hello, how are you?” created by my good self and which the children have been screeching “singing” for the last year. Can they remember what it means? Despite going through it every single week? No….. no they can’t! They can’t even remember the words. They are only 4 years old but still, that’s poor isn’t it? I blame the teacher. Ahem.

Twittering

In other exciting news – I’ve decided to try and make a go of Twitter. I still can’t understand it but I suppose it satisfies my egotistical craving to constantly update people on what I’m doing all the time. Please feel free to follow me @suzzec.

What’s a bit odd?

Less what’s a bit odd and more what’s a bit creepy… here’s some graffiti in Falconara that I quite like.

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Creepy.. creepy… creepy!

And a road sign in San Leo…

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Sign indicating the potential dangers to your lorry if you take this road…

Right, that’s about that then. Have good weeks all 🙂

x

 

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Fun, embarrassment and appeal to train station designers…

Ciao!!!

How is everyone? I’ve had another fun week this week with nothing much in the way of productivity. I’ll be remedying that this coming week in terms of productivity. I hope one day to combine the two: Productivity and Fun 🙂

Sunday I headed to an organ concert at a church in San Germano, a tiny little village walk-able from Camerano. The problem with organ concerns in churches is that the organs are generally hidden (or at least the organist is). I left after half an hour, deciding that if I wanted to listen to organ music, I should just buy a CD and listen to it somewhere that wasn’t life-sappingly hot. But it was nice to see another little village and if it wasn’t so hot, I would have stayed.

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Everyone is misleadingly looking at the front of the church here. The organ was behind everyone above the door and you couldn’t see it!

We went on a boat trip on Tuesday from Numana (one of the close coastal villages) and I finally got to see one of the beaches that I’ve been keen to visit for a while – Spiaggia dei Gabbiani (Seagull beach basically). You can only get there by boat – we didn’t actually end up going to that one, but just went past it and hopped off at another beach, Le Due Sorelle which is also only reachable by boat (There’s a path but you’re not allowed to use it – admittedly it does look a bit perilous) so it was great to finally get to that beach too. The only photo I took didn’t seem to take so I’ve got no proof!

I had one of my top rated embarrassing moments on Wednesday at Cinema Sotto Le Stelle in Camerano – I put my phone on silent like a good cinema go-er and forgot about it. Halfway through, my phone starts blaring out music at top volume. It’s my alarm, not the phone so that’s why putting it on silent didn’t work. There were a few disapproving grunts and tuts in the audience. Embarrassing, but not the end of the world. I go to turn it off. Does it turn off? Nope it doesn’t. I’d swapped the battery before the film and for my phone, that means I have a Fort Knox style pin entry system before I can get into the phone. Everyone is now looking around with incredulous looks on their faces. Very embarrassing. I’ll turn the whole phone off I think. Does the whole phone turn off? Nope, it doesn’t. Ok. Ok. Fine. I’ll take the battery out then. Can I get the back off the phone? Something that I’ve been doing for a year without any problems? No, no I can’t.  By that point, the grunts of disapprovals had turned into sporadic giggles. I decided that I’d just have to leave the cinema and throw my phone into the path of a passing car, so I hot footed it out over people’s laps. As I jumped over the last person’s legs to the door, I was flooded with a sense of relief – the trauma was almost over. Or that’s what I thought until the previously sleeping barky dog (WHO BRINGS DOGS TO THE CINEMA!) that appeared to be guarding the door launched into a tirade of barks, much louder than my phone, subsequent scream of terror and the cinema put together. I’m going to buy a disguise for when I go out in Camerano next.

I met my Couch-surfing pen pal Italian buddy last week. Headed to San Michele beach the first time (where he got a 41 Euro parking fine) and then Senigallia (where I was 4 / 5 hours late and actually never arrived in Senigallia at all – see below!) and then a couple of days later, he gave me a whistle-stop tour around Jesi kicking off with a lovely lunch at Vintora, a restaurant in his home village of San Marcello (near Jesi). After lunch, we headed to Morra D’alba and Jesi as well as a 5 minute left-hand-drive car driving lesson before my train came (where I’m pleased to report that nothing bad happened).  I still vaguely remember how to drive, the problem will be keeping to the correct side of the road.

Had a lovely lunch at this restaurant - great food...

Had a lovely lunch at this restaurant – great food…

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Una bella vista in San Marcello – the portaloo sets it off nicely I think 🙂

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Morro D’alba – there’s a cute little walk that goes around the main bit of the paese – this photo was taken from there.

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Jesi – the main square…

So let me tell you about the Senigallia ordeal on Thursday. It was the “Summer Jamboree” which I was really keen to get to so arranged to meet some friends down there. I looked at the train monitor at Ancona, I identified the train I needed and platform I needed to be on. I went to the platform. When the train came, I got on it. But then, rather than go to Senigallia (20 minutes north), the train went to Pescara (an hour and a half in the opposite direction). Why?  Well, let me tell you why. Ancona station have duplicate platforms it turns out – there are two platform 1’s, 2’s and 3’s in different parts of the station. I went to Platform 3 instead of Platform 3 (?!?!), a terrible and time-consuming mistake! So, an appeal to any Train Station Designers reading this: GIVE YOUR PLATFORMS UNIQUE NUMBERS!!!!!!!!

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Pescara train station – it was a fascinating evening out…

To get to Senigallia was going to take almost 4 hours from there at that time of night. I decided to give up and go back to Ancona instead (still over 2 hours) but by then there were no buses home anyway. My new Couchsurfing friend who I was supposed to be meeting in Senigallia and who’d been patiently waiting hours for me (he doesn’t want to be “in” the blog – I’ll have to come up with a pseudonym… hmm…) came to get me from the station and we went for dinner in an Agriturismo in Camerano that I didn’t even know existed (La Giuggiola) – it was a good meal and turned out to be a good night in the end. I still feel a bit guilty! I’ve never been 4 + hours late before!!!

I had a chat to Marco about potential teaching opportunities last week – he’d definitely like to set up some English courses in the winter or at least when the weather cools down a bit. I’m hoping to meet him this week to discuss.

Ah – on a bureaucratic front, I did attempt to get a bit done last week in fact – I went to an insurance company to buy health insurance – the guy couldn’t understand why I wanted it. I explained I just needed a bit of paper from him with “health insurance” at the top just for box ticking purposes at the Comune, but he insisted I should confirm what level of care I needed. So I headed to the Comune who confirmed that yes, it was just that I needed a piece of paper with health insurance at the top and they couldn’t care less what I actually had. By the time I went to report back, the insurance company had closed. Camerano is positively rife with insurance companies but they all open for something like 15 minutes on a random non published evening during the week so I haven’t yet managed to get the health insurance. BUT THIS WEEK IS THE WEEK!

This week’s what’s a bit odd:

I've never known people in any other country sit out in the middle of a square before quite like this...

I’ve never known people in any other country sit out in the middle of a square before quite like this…

Ciao x

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Nightmare Journey from Hell, Interviews and Fashion…

Ciao!

This week without school has been reasonably productive and saw me actually sorting my CV out and sending it off to some English teaching schools – within a few hours I got a call from one of them in Jesi to say that they wanted me to come in for an interview. I had the interview on Friday.

The interview went well-ish. Getting there did not! The interview was at 2.30pm in Jesi. Jesi is half an hour away in the car. However, I think the Italians would agree with me that the public transport system here isn’t amazing. So I left at 9.30am giving me oodles of contingency time for late connections etc. And interviews are a bit stressful in themselves so I wanted to ensure I arrived in good time in a relaxed and calm fashion. I also thought I’d splash out on buying some replacement shoes for the interview (I don’t want to take the Rain Shoes out anymore, it’s not fair on other people). So that’s what I wanted to happen – this is what actually happened (for clarity I have highlighted levels of annoyance on a scale of “irritating” to “Basil Fawlty”):

1: The first bus was late (Annoyance Factor: Irritating. But to be honest, my expectations had already been set – the bus has never been on time and this is exactly what the contingency time was for).

2: The published timetable for the next bus I needed to catch from Ancona was wrong. The buses did not run every half an hour as stated but at a random frequency which was on average every one and a half hours with an exceptionally long gap in the morning that I had not accounted for. The published timetable didn’t indicate what bus I needed to take either – or from where – but see Item 3 below. (Annoyance Factor: Annoying).

3: The published bus routes were wrong. Having lived in London for a good portion of my life, I feel confident in telling you that I’ve nailed buses. I pulled upon this extensive knowledge and read the bus stop sign / misleading trap (see “Exhibit A” below) with a list of destinations and thought, ah “This bus ‘I’ is going from here to Jesi”. I was pleased. It’s unusual here that there’d be a sign clearly denoting the buses and where they go. When the bus eventually came, decades later, the bus driver informed me that his bus ‘I’ does not actually go to/anywhere near Jesi. Why? I don’t know, the kind and informative bus driver offered no explanation (Annoyance Factor: Really Really Very Annoying).

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Exhibit A: I know it’s fuzzy. Squint a bit and pretend it’s one of those magic eye pictures – Bus “I” goes from Ancona to Jesi. This was taken from the bus stop where bus “I” was due and to give them credit, eventually did, arrive at.

4: Even the bus stop itself which said that the buses from there went to Jesi was a trap. It emerges, only through speaking to multiple other people / victims, that I should have waited at The Secret Bus Stop further down the road that had no sign or timetable or indeed little indication that it was actually a bus stop. Why would the bus company go to such extravagant lengths to lure people into waiting HOURS in the wrong place for the wrong bus?! WHY?!?!?!?!?!  Well I’ll tell you why (see Item 5 below. Annoyance Factor: Livid making).

5: Ancona Train Station is large – there are a lot of bus stops, particularly when Secret Bus Stops are taken into account. It really does warrant someone from the bus company being there for information, even if it was to support their Mission Statement which must start with “We are committed to ruining people’s lives…”. What a lost opportunity! They could have been at the station in person to direct innocent people to imaginary bus stops and tell them to wait for imaginary buses all day! (Annoying Factor: Ugh, Annoying).

6: And another thing…Whether it was because I’d be waiting at the wrong bus stop, waiting for the wrong bus or because the timetable was wrong, I don’t know, but I stood waiting for almost 2 hours in searing heat with no shade and no seats. I believe the Mission Statement continues with “…and by the end of Summer 2013, we hope to have played a key part in reducing the world’s overpopulation crisis by indirectly causing the deaths of thousands that attempt to use our buses through severe exhaustion, heat stroke and complications from fat, bloated ankles”. (Annoyance Factor: Too Exhausted and Depressed To Even Be Annoyed Anymore).

7: I bought a bus ticket like a good citizen from the Tabaccheria who gave me a ticket costing 1,80 Euro to get to Jesi and all the way back to Camerano. I double checked because it seemed wrong. I’ve been using a 1,80 Euro ticket to go only one way for a lot less distance. But she assured me that it was correct and she is after all an Italian who sells these for a living so I went with it and cursed myself that I’d not been making full use of my 1,80 Euro tickets before. When I managed to catch the Secret Bus from the Secret Bus Stop, for the first time ever there was a bus conductor checking tickets. He told me that the ticket wouldn’t even get me to Jesi, let alone to Jesi and back to Camerano. So, I ended up paying 3,80 Euro (erm, for the English folk getting annoyed at my poor grammar right now: the Italians don’t use ‘s’ for their plurals. I’ve taken this on board whole heartedly as it means I don’t have to remember where to put apostrophes/apostrophe’s ;-)). I had every intention of writing a separate page for the blog entitled “Using the Buses in Italy – a useful guide”. I’ve photos of tickets and ticket stamping machines and Tabaccheria signs etc. all ready to go. But no, in actual fact I’m going to ditch all that and replace it with some text: NEVER GET THE BUS HERE. (Annoyance Level: Definitely Annoying)

8: That was the end of the public transport saga. Is anyone still reading?! Onto sat nav… 🙂  When I got to Jesi eventually, believe it or not, I still had plenty of time to find where the interview was. That was until my sat nav on the phone decided to stop working. But not in the sense that it wouldn’t turn on. No, I mean in the sense of creating a destination road miles away which never materialised (hmm, perhaps the sat nav app was created by Ancona’s bus company?). I checked numerous times that I’d entered the correct details and not “end of the rainbow” / “horizon”. I almost walked back out of Jesi before giving up and checking on Google Maps. And let me tell you, Google, who make it their business to know everything about everyone and every place in every location that there ever was, had no record of this road that the school was on (even though it did the day before!). Its destination pointer kept pointing to another random road miles away in the opposite direction. Devoid of hope, tired, hot, sweaty, with aching feet, I headed there. And success! After an hour or two walking the streets of Jesi I arrived! (Annoyance Levels: Livid, offset marginally by sheer joy of finding the place after so long).

9: Looking around me when I got outside, I spotted some familiar buildings. I estimate the school where the interview was, was about 20 meters away from where the bus originally dropped me off. (Annoyance Level: See Basil Fawlty at the end of Waldorf Salad episode).

Anyway, I dug deep, visited my happy place and instructed myself to be cool, calm and collected for the interview which went well. The interviewer was a woman that had moved out to Italy a few years ago and loved it. Very nice and friendly. My cool, calm, collectedness lasted for a minute or two until she asked me if I’d got there ok! It’s probably an interview faux pas to launch into how impossible it is to anywhere to the office where you’d be working but regardless, she said that I had the right communication skills and personality to work there. Aw. My lack of experience wasn’t an issue. However, they’re a good school and have standards (standard schmandards…) and if I wanted the job, I’d have to commit to doing a CELTA course (despite my other TEFL qualification) which would cost about £1k, take a month of intensive study to do in somewhere that’s nowhere near here. And they only employ people with cars or that live close by (Yup. I would readily gauge my own eyes out with a rusty spoon before doing that journey again).

I knew pay was less here, that unemployment is a massive issue and that teaching jobs aren’t well paid in general but the salary is terrible! I wouldn’t have thought it possible to survive on such a low income here. I’ve checked and what they’re offering is pretty average. The cost of living here compared to the UK is pretty similar to be honest but the salaries are at least 2 or 3 times less for the equivalent job in the UK. Anyway, I’ll think about it. It was left that “we’d keep in touch”. To be honest, I was looking for something on a more part-time / when I want to do it basis. I don’t really like working.

My quest for an inscrizione dei cittadini stranieri (step towards residency goes on) – I’ve finally got a letter from the school to say that I’m a student there. I’ll attempt to go in to the Comune… (I should check how you’re pronouncing Comune – it’s “koh-moon-ay”, not “com-yoon”. It’s not a communist working camp. Ha! “Work”! Imagine! Yeah, it’s definitely not one of those)… on Monday to see if I can get the ball rolling again. I heard a rumour from someone yesterday that I didn’t actually need to be here 3 months to get a car so I’m going to start looking into that next week too. Does anyone have any opinion on what car I should get? I want to pay the least possible for a second hand one that is reliable, that uses diesel (it’s cheaper here) and that’s cheap to insure and tax. Answers on a postcard (or at end of blog!).

I’m still looking for an apartment too – I saw the neighbour’s apartment last Sunday which he’s going to be renting out in September. It’s just opposite the road from here with two bedrooms but a really small kitchen, with no outside space and newly decorated in Diarrhea Brown (a curiously popular shade here in houses).  I finally caught one of the estate agents whilst the office was open (it’s been shut continually for what seems to be the entire time I’ve been here). Despite hearing rumours that it was indeed a working office, I thought it must have closed down. But no, no…  Anyway, he was a lovely man, said how good my Italian was for the time I’ve been here (my definition of “lovely”: someone that compliments my Italian. Which is interestingly the same definition I have for “barefaced liar” 😉 ). There are apparently 3 potential apartments close by – all unfurnished though. I’m hoping to have a look at some of them soon – he said he’s going to call me. He hasn’t yet. I suppose that’s one of the inevitable hall marks of being a lovely, barefaced liar.

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Diarrhea Brown

I have three new housemates – a woman from Austria, another from Russia and her friend (male) from Italy. They’re all are very friendly. I think we’ll get on. I went out with the Austrian to a couple of the local bars when she arrived on Friday and had a lot of fun. We spoke in Italian the whole time so that was good – it’s great to have someone to speak Italian to at home at a sort of conversational level. Almost two months in, I remain constantly surprised that other people can understand what I’m saying: in the same way Euros seem like monopoly money to me, other languages seem like a childhood secret code (albeit a frustratingly difficult and grammatically challenging one). I had to move bedrooms – my old bigger one had been booked out by one of the others but I’m happy with the smaller one – it’s much cooler.

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The new bedroom… There’s another window on the wall where the wardrobe is so I get a draught which is really nice. I was almost comfortable last night as opposed to sweltering.

What else? I went to an Agriturismo opening party yesterday – free food and drink! For people that haven’t heard of them, Agriturismo’s are usually B&B affairs set in countryside and often with some kind of working element to it whether it’s a vineyard, olive grove or something more ‘farm like’. This place was a renovated farm house I think (it had handy hooks for your dead pigs in one of the downstairs bedrooms…. I have to keep mine in the wardrobe) which was split into 3 lovely apartments. Friends / family: rather than stay with me for free, I recommend you pay for yourselves (and me) to stay in this agriturismo. It’s lovely. And there’s not even a hint of Diarrhea Brown.

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The Agriturismo – It was a unique marketing event. I don’t know what it’s called. Or really where it is. Or what it costs. There’s no website, brochures of any kind or discernible ability to book…Yet, it was really nicely done and had a beautiful swimming pool. I like it a lot. People should definitely go there. If they can find it. I jest, I think I could probably find out if people actually were.

I missed out last week’s “What’s a bit odd” (well noticed Pete) so was going to make up for it now with two (infinite stock to chose from) but there’s a *chance* I may have ranted earlier rather than use the blog to provide a semi-useful Italian moving guide as was the intention. I apologise but it’s been therapeutic and might reduce the need for counselling at a later date. So I’ll keep it at one: Dress Sense. The Italians are known for good dress sense eh? They’ve got Gucci, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana… But here, back in real life, people’s dress sense only falls into two categories: 1) Bog Standard (I like to consider myself in this group) and 2) Dire. I’ve seen men wearing lime green or pink chinos with little girl vest tops and shiny long pointy shoes… I’ve seen women wearing skin-tight (tighter even) fluorescent numbers with colour coordinated giant earrings and impossibly high shoes that could probably be classified as stilts… Well, there are many examples and I can only apologise that to date, I’ve been too slow to get my camera out. And I say “dire” in the kindest possible sense. I know everywhere has a few er, uniquely dressed people. I think it’s fabulous that people explore their personalities through fashion and it must take an admirable amount of courage to leave their houses like they do wearing what they’re wearing. So this week’s “what’s a bit odd” is only to say that the ratio of Dire to Bog Standard is definitely higher here on the Dire side than elsewhere I’ve been. Along with beautiful countryside, historic and magnificent cities, quaintly picturesque towns, spectacular coastline and amazing food; dress sense is just another reason I like Italy so much. It makes me smile.

Other news – I’ve bought a snorkel! I’m stupidly excited about it. I’ve been writing this in the kitchen patiently waiting for passing-by housemates, hoping to recruit a Bag Guard for on the beach so that I can snorkel without the fear of becoming destitute if someone steals it. Alas, it’s mysteriously quiet. I might have a go in the bath.

Okeydoke, the bath / beaches await…

Hope you’re all good.

X

P.S. Here’s a photo from the “event” the piazza I mentioned I might go to last week.

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Sponsored “stay at home” event?

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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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Out and about and weird and wonderful wildlife…

Ciao!

Well I’m not that much further forward unfortunately on the flat / car renting and buying stakes, primarily down to my laziness. I’m going to look at it all again later today. I definitely need a car – there are so many places I want to see and just a complete inability to get there! I don’t want to rent a car– it feels like money down the drain if I’m going to buy one later but it suddenly occurred to me earlier that I could always rent a scooter. That would be cheaper and let me get around a bit easier. I’ve not driven for years. I never needed to in London. I find the prospect of driving more heart palpitation inducing than moving countries curiously so if I can get over that, I’ll actually be quite proud of myself.

I’ve been out and about a bit this week – Wednesday morning I popped out to see the market in Camerano. I’ve never seen it so busy! Everyone in Camerano it seems were out. There was lots of clothes, watches, fruit/veg etc. It was quite nice wandering around and I think the fruit and veg would be cheaper there than in the supermarket.

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Admittedly, not looking busy in this particularly photo but I promise it was!!!

 

Wednesday I was out in Sirolo with a new friend for drinks and an “aperitivo” – I should have taken a picture of it. I’ll do that next time… Anyway, an aperitivo is a mixture of free food that comes with your drink. Nice and obviously quite good value being free and all. They even mustered up a vegetarian version for me which was nice of them. The following night, we were out again with her friend who lives in Jesi (Jesi sounds like it might be a nice place to live). We went for dinner in Portonovo. It was a bit cloudy Thursday so looked quite atmospheric. Still relatively warm though.

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Portonovo

And when I got back to the flat, I had a little visitor! His name is Maximum Yogurtness II – he’s a gecko. An adorable little thing.

 

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Maximum Yogurtness II (Ignore the carton of wine – 88 CENTS!!! 88!!!!)

It was a wrench to release him back to the wild / balcony. I should have taken him downstairs, I’m skeptical about his ability to have got down by himself. He was only little. Anyway, since then I’ve been on periodic lizard searches of the apartment. They have these dark green lizards here with bright green spots (to be clear, not in my apartment). They’re a bit shy though so haven’t been able to take a photo yet (the locals so far have seen me taking pictures of myself eating ice-cream and taking pictures of walls. Even if they could see that there was a lizard on the wall, I think I would still look like an oddball).  Whilst I’m on the subject of wildlife – the crickets are GINORMOUS, like, hand sized. And the bees… don’t get me started on the bees… they have “calabrone” (hornets) that are the size of small planes.

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Giant Man Eating Cricket (potentially not actually man eating but certainly large insect eating)

I’ve eaten out about 3 times since I’ve been here and had either pasta or gnocchi with tomato sauce each time. It seems to be the default vegetarian option – the “vegetable hot pot” of the UK. Thankfully, I really like pasta, gnocchi and tomatos 🙂

I went for quite a long walk yesterday in the countryside just down from Camerano. It was such a nice walk –through wheat fields, vineyards, past old rustic houses, meadows and a nice looking golf course into Sirolo. 

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Poppy field and a house – you can just make out Camerano in the distance!

The pollen is out in force at the moment. At one point, there was so much it looked like it was almost snowing… I need to get some hayfever tablets. Anyone else get “itchy tongue” hayfever?! I think it’s possibly one of the more unusual hayfever symptoms but it’s very irritating! Anyway, the walk was good, marred only by a perilous walk along a busy road (all walks that aren’t in the countryside are a bit perilous, they don’t do pavements here) in my quest to get ice-cream. Oh and whilst I’m on the subject of perilous roads – beware, the pedestrian crossings aren’t really treated like pedestrian crossings. Don’t be suckered in to crossing one and expect the cars to stop – you’ll most likely die.

 

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Pavements Schmavements

I’ve finally done some washing too – I can’t say it was a vast success. The washing machine leaks / doesn’t hold even a tiny bit of water. The first time I used it, I left it to its own devices and came back to an inch of water in the bathroom (where it is) – took AGES to mop it up. Anyway, still needing to do a white wash, I decided that I’d give it another go. In retrospect, I should have just done a hand wash – it turns out it’s a lot more work to stand guard for an hour with a mop and bucket. And in the apartments, you hang your washing outside on lines that span across the apartments on a sort of pulley system. I’m on the top floor, it’s windy here. So after an hour of watching the washing machine, I watched the clothes dry on the line lest my knickers escaped. All in all, I had a fascinating afternoon of washing.

The language course is going well but I really have trouble believing that I’ll ever be anywhere near approaching fluent. I’m definitely still in a stage where I’m translating everything first to and from English which takes an age, particularly with the sentence structures requiring a complete overhaul. I’m understanding a lot more words than I think I did before but I’ve the memory of a goldfish so I think it’s going to take me ages to get any better. I’m having to be quite strict with myself not to get despondent with it! Last week in class they were trying to explain what a “vasca da bagno” was to me. It’s a “bath tube” they said. I should have worked it out from that. I didn’t. I asked them what on earth they were talking about. “A BATH TUBE” they kept saying, louder and louder – as though that was ample description in itself. The other student even insisted I had one in the bathroom of my own apartment. I racked my brains but there are simply no tubes in my bath. I said the English just must not have “bath tubes” but that I would definitely like to try one given they really seemed to think these bath tubes were almost a basic human right. A full and frustrating 10 minutes later, they double checked on the English pronunciation. Turns out they meant “Tub”. I definitely have a bath tub 🙂

We watched a film this week at school – Manuale d’amore 2. It’s a really nice film with 4 stories running through it. In Italian of course.  I’ve knocked Vin Diesel off the top “Future Boyfriend” slot and have replaced him with Riccardo ScamarcioMonica Bellucci is in it too and I suspect offers a similar service for the male audience. There was a catchy song in it that’s been in my head ever since. “Eppure Sentire” by Elisa (check it out on youtube here. It’s a nice song. There’s an English version too – I’ve downloaded the original Italian. If you’re interested in a lyric translation, click here

It’s my birthday next week – Thursday for anyone that would like to send me presents 😉 I’m hoping to rally the people I’ve met so far and get them to a bar in Camerano. A friend is coming out to stay for a few days from Wednesday next week so looking forward to that. Hoping to do a few touristy things and maybe see an apartment or two?! Who knows…

I have more blog followers of late so thank you if you’ve just signed up 🙂 And if you happen to be Italian, don’t get the wrong idea, I honestly do love your country, its just it has some curious bits! 

Ciao

xxx

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