Posts Tagged With: marchetourism

Painting attempts, Lost Temples and Cat Sagas

Buongiorno a tutti!

Well it’s been another busy week or so. On my way back from the blog tour a couple of weeks ago, I finally stopped at a few places that have been on my list to see for ages. Firstly there was….

Urbania

I’ve heard good things about Urbania. It’s near Urbino, in north  Le Marche, which is a beautiful town well worth a visit. Urbania is less quaint than Urbino. Still, I was glad I had the opportunity to go there and have a wander around. Here are some photos…

Gola di Furlo

Now, you’re probably reading this and pronouncing Furlo like, well, an English person would pronounce it. You’re wrong. There is no way of pronouncing this word that an Italian person will understand. You actually have to spell it out (and even that’s traumatic because I must have told you before how the Italian’s spell? They just say the word very slowly and consider that spelt! It clears up absolutely nothing.) Anyway, the Gola di Fuuuuurloooo, is a beautiful gorge between the mountains where a river runs through. It’s difficult to get a good photo – the gorge also has a road but that’s closed to cars so you need to either walk or cycle through. However the road is lined with trees making it impossible to get a good view of the river. In the end I had to jump over a fence to take a picture and even then it didn’t do it justice!

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Tempio del Valadier

The next stop was Tempio del Valadier in Genga, built in 1826. I’ve been seeing photo’s on the various tourism websites for this temple for ages and was curious to see it in real life. It was just as impressive as it seemed from the photos and I’m just awed that we have it in Le Marche. In fact, Le Marche really is in my opinion one of the best regions in Italy (the world?!?!?!) – it has such a mix of different things to see in terms of the landscape, towns and history. Really I don’t think you could ask for anything more!

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It looks like a model here but I assure you it’s not! It’s absolutely massive.

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Here it is from the other side.

But, beware the snakes…

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Genga

Then I popped over to the town of Genga. Genga is a pretty little hilltop town but seemed quite deserted when I was there. They do have a museum which looked like it might be quite interesting, talking about the history of the local area but I didn’t have time to go in. The buildings are interesting – they seem to be half carved out of rock strata. It’s very pretty. There was also a room open in what seemed like an old church that had a very impressive picture made of various seeds and grains. It seemed so much like a painting that I had to touch it to check  – I thought the seeds must be glued down. They weren’t. I made a big hole which I hastily tried to cover up.  If any of the artists are reading this – sorry guys!

The weather this year has been generally rubbish on the whole – we have a couple of days of glorious sunshine and then it’s followed by thunderstorms. I took this rather daunting looking picture on the way back from Genga. I did manage to miss the rain though so was pleased about that!

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Walking Group!

I had my third trip out with the CAI (Clup Alpino Italiano) walking group of Sarnano. We were supposed to be going to Monte Bove (still in the Sibillini’s but more central than where I live). It would have been an impressive walk but we had to cancel that because of the storm due that afternoon. Instead, we went out locally, walking from a part of Sarnano called Bisio and then up to a refuge called Citta di Amandola and then on a bit further to the lookout point over Santuario dell’Ambro, a church set in one of the valleys. Our little offshoot of CAI isn’t very well supported (a lot of areas have their own CAI that appear to have more active members). In fact this week, there were only 4 of us. The group don’t appear to have embraced technology to publicise the walks, so I might look into that on their behalf! The Club President is one of the more interesting characters I’ve met here – a sort of hairy naked dude that eats all the plants as he’s walking along but he’s a lovely guy and knows every single path in the area. One of our group was wearing head to toe expensive specialist walking gear…whereas the President was (periodically) wearing a holey vest and shorts and the sort of shoes used for protecting your feet when you’re doing DIY.

I was a bit taken aback hearing a story of some poor paraglider that made a simple mistake and ended up killing himself on that rock face in the pictures below (right hand side). Poor man, I think that was years ago but as an ex-paraglider pilot myself it put the wind up me a bit!

Cycling

On Saturday I decided I would try and make it up to Sassotetto on my bike. Sassotetto is one of my nearest mountains. I packed a sandwich and lots of water and set off at about early morning. Wanting to do a circular route, I went via San Liberato first, a beautiful monastery set in the woods about half way up the mountain. I mistakenly thought that it might be the easiest route. In fact, it was exhausting. I had to get out and push on a number of occasions. The road was empty other than every time I got off my bike, within seconds you could guarantee a troupe of cyclists would come along (all sporty looking men in sporty looking outfits – in fact, there are simply no cyclists that wear normal get fit stuff here, they all seem to have proper racing gear like they’re all doing the Tour de France – they take their cycling very seriously! I don’t think they were particularly impressed by me with my general keep fit gear, a big backpack and a cheap bike!). Anyway, 6 hours and 40 kilometers later and with legs that refused to work anymore, I was back home again. Guess how quickly one of my CAI walking companions does that same route? An hour and a half. I don’t think I shall ever ‘cut the mustard’ as a cyclist!

Cat update

It’s just been an awful year for our little community of cats. A few posts back I mentioned how one of them was at the vets apparently suffering from the same slug pellet poisoning as before. Unfortunately he didn’t make it which was terribly sad. He was less than a year old and had a lovely character, always wanting a chat, albeit the conversation was a bit ‘samey’ after a while: “Meow?” “Meow”, “Meow!”, “Meow?”. Then last week, the lovely Pellosina died. Pellosina was just the sweetest little cat and was about 4 years old. She was really quite shy and didn’t like to be stroked but had such a gentle character and she was a fabulous climber – always high up on some post or other. She had three kittens a couple of months ago and though she didn’t like to be stroked, she was so content with motherhood that if you approached her with her kittens she would roll over onto her back with the kittens still suckling as if to say “look at my little family” and she’d let you stroke her and the kittens. She was the girlfriend of Neve the Evil Cat (he’s constantly attacking my cat Batfink) and it was him that led us, Lassie style, to Pellosina when she was convulsing behind a shed. Slug pellet poisoning is absolutely awful; it’s an agonising way to go and poor little Pellosina died in my arms outside the vets office. That’s 3 cats that have died now and it feels like I’m on a countdown until Batfink is struck down again (he’s already survived one bout). So, I would like to urge everyone – please don’t put slug pellets down. Have a look here for alternatives. Here’s my little photographic tribute to them 😦

And Sole, one of the survivors from the last batch of kittens has an awfully sore nose from something or other. Here he is having a cuddle from Batfink. It’s never a dull moment with the cats at the moment unfortunately!!!!!!

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Poor little nose!

Lion King!

On a less depressing note, Sarnano had a theatrical production of the Lion King the other week! It was an amateur production but still a lot more impressive than the amateur productions I used to be a part of. I was rather amazed to see that some of the costumes were akin to the ones used on the London stage!  The only problem was, it seemed to go on for a lifetime. The trouble in Italy is that everything is just too late. The show started at gone 10pm and there were little children in it! Why they don’t begin their entertainment events in the late afternoon or early evening, I will never understand. And yet, the Italians don’t appear to be perpetually tired so who knows, perhaps the country just doesn’t need to sleep?

Painting

I’ve been having fun with the watercolour class and painting. There’s a real technique to it. Watercolour is completely different to painting with any other medium. I can’t say as I’ve ever been particularly enamoured with watercolours as I have traditionally veered towards bolder paintings with quite a lot of texture: I discredited watercolours as “painting-lite” for those who just want to paint quaint, dreamy village scenes and flowers. That was until I started my watercolour course a couple of months back and in fact, I really like it. Far from it being a “quaint” form of painting there are some really amazing techniques and it needs a lot of practice even to do what seems to be the simplest of things. The course focuses on landscapes but I’m absolutely inept at those, though perhaps getting marginally better. Portraits seem a bit easier. There was talk about us students having an exhibition. I quite like the idea of that – something to work towards. I think I’ll dedicate July to producing a couple of reasonable landscape pictures. Anyway, specifically for my Uncle Richard who has pointed out on a few occasions that I never post photos up of my paintings, here are some of my least embarrassing efforts to date.  I’ve specifically embedded these pictures in small so don’t look too closely and don’t judge me, I’m still learning!!!!

And to help with the inspiration, I decided to create a little ‘studio’ where a bookcase used to be. I like being up there and it’s good for watercolours because I can pop them out to dry on the terrace. All in all, I’m quite pleased with it.

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I’m looking forward to the weekend – I’m going to be staying in Senigallia (coastal town) with my friends this weekend and then I’m straight off to Puglia (southern Italy) with another friend visiting from the UK. I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!

I shall leave you with my tagliatelle making efforts from yesterday. I hope you’re all having good weeks!

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x

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Monster mice, uncouth statues and cuteness!

Buongiorno a tutti,

Well it’s been a mixed bag these last couple of weeks. My friend came out to see me which was lovely! We met in Bologna and had a day there wandering around the city. I like Bologna. It’s young and vibrant because it has quite a big university there. It feels very much alive compared to the sleepy little town in my area. However, the weather left much to be desired. The thing that Italy really excels in is it’s ability to enable its patrons to relax in glorious sunshine in piazzas with glasses of prosecco and nibbles. It’s not as  entertaining when it’s overcast and raining. Half in an attempt to get out of the rain and/or warm up, and half in an attempt to appease my church-adoring neighbour, we went into the churches and so I saw a new side to the Bologna that I’d seen before.

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This was a memorial dedicated I think to just the pilots of one of the world wars.

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And we discovered this sort of library / museum which I’d never been into before. The building was nice in itself but they also had a lovely collection of illustrations and prints which was quite inspiring.

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This  was taken in the Basilica of Santo Stefano. The Basilica looks relatively small from the outside but it’s well worth going into as it goes a lot further back and contains a little museum and erboristeria (like a chemists with just natural stuff). This was taken inside one of the connecting rooms. I think it looks rather majestic! I shall have this in my palace when I get one.

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This delicate little lady forms part of the Neptune sculpture in the main piazza. Even the pigeon looks shocked.

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What is the consensus on this building?  It’s the main cathedral. There were at least a couple of other churches in the same style. I’m not sure I like the tatty, unkept brickwork design!

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And these are some terrapins in the Giardino della Montagnola. The lake there was absolutely full to the brim with them! Very cute.

Then we went back to Sarnano. The previous week, sitting on my terrace in beautiful sunshine, I’d imagined all the things I could show her. And then there was just torrential rain, and it was cold and there was fog. We did do a bit of sight-seeing but not very inspiring. By the end of the trip I felt like I should give her a refund on her flight! And the SECOND she left, the sun came out.

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The moment my friend got on the train, the blustery cold overcast weather turned miraculously into this… This was taken on Monte Conero overlooking the lovely towns and beaches of Sirolo and Numana.

Later that day, I went to the fishing lakes in Montecosaro which I’d heard about a while back but were always closed when I wanted to go. This time they were open and they were lovely to  have a wander around. Not only that, just before we were about to head home we came across a group of nutria. Nutria are basically big mice that like to swim and hang out near the water. Really very cute.

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This was one of the fishing lakes. Each lake has a different selection of fish (victims!). The fish need to be thrown back in when they’ve been caught. I was wondering if they become increasingly difficult to catch. If I’d been merrily eating away and then had my mouth pierced before being hauled out of the water, I simply wouldn’t go back near the edges of the lake again. I imagine there’s a survivors group in the middle.

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Look at this nutria’s little hands!!!!

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Isn’t he adorable?!

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They don’t make the most elegant swimmers but they go like the clappers! I want a nutria!!!!!

My other ex-pat friend is here for a couple of weeks and on Thursday we went to watch a man playing blues in San Ginesio. It was a nice evening, great food. Not as atmospheric as some of the other similar events I’ve been to but then I think that was mainly because we needed to see our food!

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This is Pierluigi Petricca, a very talented guitarist!

In terms of events, I did go to one in Sarnano’s theatre a couple of weeks ago to hear about how the local spa waters were discovered. It was good, though perhaps a bit technically challenged with the lighting and sound! I was keen to take lots of photos but my abilities weren’t up to it with the lighting. Anyway, in summary, the guy that discovered our special thermal waters was a very talented and interesting man, and the water itself  is full of minerals and drinking them will cure almost everything. This year, I shall get some!

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In other exciting news this week I’ve had my first watercolour painting lesson. It was great – lovely setting and with lovely people. I felt like I’ve already learnt a fair bit after just two hours and can’t wait to get started properly. A while back my strategy was to do a “painting a day” which just never happened. It’s remarkable how life just seems to get in the way and I don’t even have a job as an excuse! I’m still keen to do something along those lines though so I hope this will give me a bit of a kick start.

It’s all go in my little hamlet this week! We’ve had 3 kittens and lots of little rabbits born and we had 7 little chicks born a week or two before. In summary, it’s all very cute here at the moment.

I think that’s about it from me for now. I hope you all have splendid weeks.

x

 

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Barns, bags of spiders and lake dolphins…

Buongiorno a tutti!

How is everyone? All good here. Various bits and pieces going on but I still feel like I’m missing a life plan! Anyway, updates below but I’ll start off with a bit of real estate…

Who would like to buy this lovely barn?!

Fienile

I don’t know if the sweetcorn comes with it but I think it makes for a lovely rustic room divider/fly screen!

As you can see it’s a bit rustic and requires a bit of work but it would make a lovely home once renovated and it has an amazing view of Sarnano and the mountains. It’s in a peaceful, rural little area called Colleciccangelo just on the outskirts of Sarnano. There’s actually two buildings and an adjoining courtyard included in the price (40,000 euros, negotiable). There’s lots of potential and if anyone is interested, there’s even a proposed plan for the property. Great investment potential. For anyone wishing to see more photos and/or to test their Italian, have a look at the advert here!

In other news, SPRING IS HERE!!!!! It’s been lovely. I’m so pleased! I’ve been a bit more inspired to go out and take some photos too. I have attached proof of “Spring” below…

 

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I’ve discovered a lovely little restaurant called Il Sigillo in Camporotondo with a newly discovered ex-pat too. It was a really nice little restaurant in a quaint little town and it was surprisingly empty. They do a vegetarian tasting menu so I’m hoping to try that one day. Interestingly, the word the Italian’s use for “tasting” in their menus is degustazione which to me, sounds too similar to disgust to make it an attractive option. In a similar way, I find it very difficult to buy a packet of arachidi which means peanuts, but sounds like you’re buying a bag of spiders. Still, I’m glad I’ve found a new restaurant to supplement my tried and tested “Scherzi a Parte” which  all my guests get taken to at one time or another.

I’ve been cycling almost every day and at the weekend I cycled 16km! SIXTEEN! Which I know many of you will probably be thinking is absolutely nothing but it’s akin to a marathon for me! And it’s very hilly where I live. This whole exercise debacle means I’m permanently aching from head to toe but I think I’m getting better.

In other successful news, I also discovered that you can walk all the way around Lago di Fiastra (the biggest reservoir in Le Marche), a feat I’d previously thought was impossible because of lack of pathways. Despite going off the beaten track a couple of times, it’s not impossible by any means. The lake is beautiful. It’s crystal clear and I used to enjoy swimming in it up until earlier in the week when my friend told me that it’s dangerous, full of whirlpools and there are nameless things the size of dolphins in there. I have googled and I can’t find any evidence of these claims. Nevertheless, it seems less of an inviting prospect now!!! I did take some photos though.

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I would just like to say how annoying I find power lines in this country. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and they stick power lines everywhere.

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Another highlight of the week was “Occhi negli occhi”, a piano and string quartet concert that was held in San Ginesio’s theatre (San Ginesio is one of the nearest towns to Sarnano where I live). The pianist and composer was Fabio Capponi. The music was brilliant, as were all of the musicians. Click here for one of the songs that I think was recorded whilst I was there. I was inspired enough to buy the CD and now I’m annoyed that I can’t find the sheet music anywhere to be able to play it myself! I’m hoping he’ll be famous soon so it will be downloadable. San Ginesio’s theatre was beautiful too – a lovely venue. As a “Sarnanese” (someone from Sarnano), I’m supposed to hate San Ginesio, a tradition going back to when all little towns in Italy seemed to be at war against all the other little towns, but I must say, their theatre definitely wins the “Dinky and cute and nicely decorated” award!

I think that about sums things up here. I hope everyone else had a good week 🙂

A presto,

x

 

 

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Alpe di Sue-si (Siusi really but I’ve renamed them after myself)

Buongiorno all,

How is everyone? I had a lovely few days in Trentino. I took about a million photos. We stayed in a lovely hotel called Hotel Pinei which is in Castelrotto (not the town itself, the hotel was in the middle of nowhere but in the Castelrotto vicinity). It was a great setting with views across one of the valley towns called Ortisei. We stayed full board-ish (I say “ish” because although lunch wasn’t included, a merenda/snack large enough to be lunch was).

We spent the first couple of days skiing/snowboarding in Val Gardena and Alpe di Suisi. I haven’t snowboarded that much in my life in one go. I think there might actually be a tiny bit of definition to my stomach as a result just of those two days! I also make a new discovery: “bombardino”, a sort of alcoholic hot sickly yellow drink with whipped cream on top. Delicious!

The third day we went walking on the same slopes we’d been skiing on the previous two days. It was a much more relaxed way of seeing the mountains and a good opportunity for me to practice my photography without worrying about falling on my camera 🙂 I thought we’d have needed snow shoes but in fact there were lots of well trodden paths which were good to walk on. If any of you go and fancy doing something a bit different, they also have horse drawn carts to take you around and bikes with snow tires! In fact, we even saw some llamas being walked down the mountain. Perhaps llama walking is a thing there too.

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The scenery was spectacular

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Tracks in the snow

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I think this is a refuge – it just wasn’t open. There are lots of refuges (rifugi) dotted around though where you can have a drink and get something to eat

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The mountains are sprinkled with these adorable little wooden huts. I wonder how much they cost!

The other place we went to was Laghetto (little lake) di Fiè which, despite the lack of snow in the surrounding area, was completely iced over. Apparently you can ice-skate on it. I did not take my chances and nor was anyone else. The lake is well worth a visit as it’s set high up in some woods and there’s lots of walks that start from there.

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Laghetto di Fie’

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This was taken just around the corner from the lake

I think that about sums up the holiday. I’ll leave you with a photo from Filotrano taken a week or so back. It’s all so pretty everywhere at the moment, it looks like all the fields have been combed!

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Pretty pretty pretty…

Hope you all have an excellent week!

x

 

 

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Photos, photos and more photos…

Buonasera!

How is everyone? I feel like I have been thoroughly unproductive these last couple of weeks so I don’t have a vast amount to update on.  I have been taking lots of photos though so this update will be more photographically orientated than normal! Apologies for the sheer number of them but I’ve had fun taking them and wanted to share! 🙂

We had snow! I went with Pablos to Sassotetto, our local piste (in fact, Maddalena) for some snowboarding which was great fun. It was absolutely heaving with people as it was one of the first days the pistes were open this season.

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This was taken from the field just down the road from my house.

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The same field also offers lovely views of Sarnano

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One can never have too many pictures of snowy fields at sunrise eh?

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This was taken near to Penna, 20 minutes drive from me.

And I went to Lago di Caccamo to try out a new filter which I’m not sure I got the most out of (it’s a 10 stop NDR filter for anyone that would like to offer advice and tips on how to use it!!!) and then popped along to a little hill-top town I’ve been meaning to go to for ages called Pievefavera. I do not recommend Lago di Caccamo as a photographic location – I had to scale a wall and traipse across a bog to get anywhere near to the water.

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These swans came a bit too close for my liking!

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Lago di Caccamo

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This is Pievefavera taken from the lake. Can you see why I’ve been wanting to go there? To me it looks like it’s taken directly from a fairy tale.

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And this was the church in Pievefavera

Today I went to Castelluccio. You might remember I went there quite a lot in the summer because around the end of June/ beginning of July, they have the most amazing display of flowers. It’s a massive plain amidst the mountains. I wanted to see what sunrise would be like there so myself and my next door neighbour got up insanely early to check it out. It was stunning, absolutely stunning. Totally worth the early start. And as demonstrated below, I’ve finally worked out how to use the panoramic photo setting on my camera!

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And then we went for a walk to a look out point by Forca di Presta. I wanted to go to the Pantani lakes but there were, of course, no signs and I think we went the wrong way.

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My neighbour and her dog

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And another lovely panorama taken from our walk

 

So I think that’s probably enough photos to be getting on with! Oh no, there’s one more. The cats are all feeling amorous at the moment. Pelosina, the neighbour’s female cat is getting a bit fed up with all the attention and I thought had quite a good way of dealing with it…

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“Leave. Me. Alone”

Ok, hope you’re all well. I shall give an update on my upcoming holiday in Trentino the next time 🙂

xxx

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