Posts Tagged With: Portonovo

Sue’s Favourite Places Tour, Teaching and living rooms…

Ciao a tutti!

Well this week has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs!


Mum and Dad came out last Friday for a week to see where I live 🙂 It was lovely to show them around all the things I’ve been talking about for so long. Hopefully they liked it (more than France which they keep going on about ;-)) – we pretty much did the “Sue’s Favourite Places Tour” as well as some new stuff I hadn’t had a chance to do before.

The “Sue’s Favourite Places Tour” took us to (Please Note: If you’re coming to visit me – perhaps skip past this section to maintain an air of mystery):

  • San Michele beach

Lots of fisherman there at this time of year…

  • Sirollo (pretty village by the sea)

Pretty street overlooking the countryside in Sirollo

  • Numana (another pretty village by the sea)

View towards Monte Conero from Numana

  • Marcelli (another village by the sea…. there was a theme that day. Anyway, Marcelli only featured because one of the schools is there)

View from Marcelli towards Monte Conero. One can never have too many pictures of views towards Monte Conero eh?

  • Camerano’s Cemetery (I know this is an odd thing to have on a favourite places list but I think it’s great! And we timed it brilliantly – we went there on their day of the dead which is an excellent time to go – it’s full of people and it’s got a bit of atmosphere about it!)

Pretty graves. When you die, you’re put into a wall here… no rotting away being eaten by bugs… Well, I didn’t see any evidence of that anyway. Hmm – this photo isn’t in focus.

  • Portonovo (lovely little coastal beach area)

Pretty bay. Towards Monte Conero don’t you know…

  • Loreto (the hill top town which hosts Jesus’ mother’s house which was carried there by angels from Palestein. Read about it here)

Rather poor to average shot of Loreto. Mary’s house is inside the basilica straight ahead. People go around the house on their knees. They’ve worn two large grooves into the marble. They should probably put some sort of cushioning around the house if people insist on doing that – I don’t think it can be healthy for their joints!

  • Frasassi Caves (I’d not actually been there before but it’s been on my list for months – the caves are absolutely huge and incredibly impressive. Definitely a good thing to see. Here’s the website)

You can’t actually take pictures in the caves – so here’s a picture of the parking lot where you go to get to the caves

  • Monte Murano (mountain just up from Serra San Quirico – all my photo’s have parents in so here’s a picture of a nice sunrise instead)

    Camera 360

    Sunrise from the balcony

  • Offagna (hill top town with a castle)

Offagna’s lovely castle

  • Castelfidardo (to look at the Accordion Museum which, you’ll never guess, was shut. We did meet a very happy singing man that escorted us there though so that was er, interesting).
Camera 360

The museum was shut but there was a shop with a lot of accordions… (if you’re coming to visit and you’re worried I’ll try and take you to an accordion museum, don’t worry – this was a one off)

So all very nice. I think I could be a happy tour guide when I grow up. However, all that coincided with…

The Scary Week of Teaching Terror

Which involved teaching… let me see… about 260 children English. It has been stressful. And I’ve started the classes in such a random fashion that I don’t really know who I’ve done what with now. However, I’m now famous (or infamous) in the schools. One of these teaching type websites recommends you start the lesson with a hello song and finish with a goodbye song. I’d found some stuff on but there wasn’t internet access in the classes so… I did what any nervous, inexperienced teacher would do and took my guitar in and sang to them. All children in the Marcelli and Numana areas can now sing along to “Hello, how are you?” and “Bye bye, see you again” songs. They are incessantly catchy. I can’t imagine ever having a night’s sleep again without them going round and round my head. Anyway, my reputation proceeded me on the last day and I got a song request even before I introduced myself. It’s a good job my embarrassment threshold is relatively high these days.

My language school that contracted me to the state schools suggested I have lunch with the staff on Wednesday as I’ve got a two hour gap between lessons. “Lunch with the staff” was misleading. It was lunch with children. I was at least 20 meters away from the nearest member of staff. I think I was supposed to be keeping them (the children, not the staff) in order. However, by the time pudding came round, there was a little crowd of children around me and the other teacher had to come to tell them to sit down. I suspect I should have done that.

There was only a couple of er, “difficult” classes so I suppose that’s ok. One teacher said I need to be harder on the kids. I’m not entirely sure how without actually using physical violence. I’ll have to look at the regulations in Italy but I’m pretty sure I can’t do that.

The plus side is that the latest teaching stresses have almost removed my driving stresses! On Monday I actually looked forward to getting in the car.

Living room

I HAVE ONE! Marco changed my old bedroom into a living room a week or so back and now I even have a nice flatscreen tv. WOOHOO 🙂


Living room plus legs…

Right, I’m supposed to be lesson planning, not blogging. <Sigh>.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends.



Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sailing extravaganza, charades and chocolate…

Well I’ve had a busy week. I chickened out of not doing any lessons – Marco gave me a good deal on some group lessons (well I use “group” in the loosest sense – there were two of us) so that’s been every morning with a new teacher and I’ve got another teacher again next week. And when I say a good deal, it’s only really because he’s said it’s a good deal rather than given me a price or anything in writing. It’s er, very laid back here. It’s been quite good to mix up the teachers actually – different techniques, and teaching style. Perhaps one day something will sink in!

Monday, was another “cooking course” night at Marco’s place. I joking asked if I could just go to eat and I’m pleased to report that it worked. I went there at about 8pm for some very tasty home-made gnocchi. We went to a bar afterwards, the one under my apartment which almost completes my bar circuit of Camerano – I think there is maybe two more to try but I might even consider giving one of them a miss (where the old men sit in a row and stare at me as I walk past on my way to the supermarket). We had a very interesting chat about the mafia that night too – it seems an unsolvable problem here. I might do a bit more reading about it. I don’t like unsolvable problems.

We had a school trip to Urbino – Urbino’s a lovely hill top town – lots of scenic hills around and a lot of life inside because it’s got a well known and established university there. Walt Disney apparently got his inspiration from the architecture there. We went into the Ducale Palazza Museum and had a look around. Again, Marco reeled off names, dates, history, artists, architects without breaking a sweat… That man should leave his head to medical science. Alas, all I took from it was that the Duke really should have had his artists and sculptors shot – I would not have had pictures of me like that in my house. Here he is, the handsome devil – Federico III da Montefeltro.

Urbino – Walt Disney’s Inspiration

My boiler is temperamental. It looks like it’s been here since the beginning of time. And I wake up feeling groggy and hungover in the mornings (I know what you’ll say, “too much 88 cent wine Sue?” but no, it’s not…). I’ve decided I’m slowly getting carbon monoxide poisoned. I wonder if it’s cumulative? The boiler man has actually been a couple of times so I would hope he’d have established if there was a leak. Anyway, I’m going to keep the windows open now just in case. There’s a new woman, a Russian moving in the apartment today for a week, and then some Americans the week after for a month I think.  I suspect I’m not actually being poisoned but will be interesting to compare notes with the others (if they make it through. I hope they do. I’d feel quite guilty. And maybe actually responsible. Hmm. Perhaps I should remove this paragraph. Carabinieri: If you’re reading this, I didn’t REALLY think I was being poisoned and also, please skip over the next paragraph).

This week, I tried to declare my presence (dichiarazione di presenza) to the Carabinieri  (one of the police forces in Italy headed up by the army in fact) who, when I eventually got through to them, were closed Thursday until 4pm. Closed! The police! CLOSED!!!), and said that I needed to go to the Comune (sort of town hall, mine has a nice website), who, you’ll be shocked, were also closed. All day. On a Thursday. There are no office hours on the websites or on the doors. When their alarms go off in the morning, do you think they do a quick physical and mental scan and think “Nah…. b*gger that. I think I’ll go to the beach today”? Anyway, I have to declare my presence to somebody within 8 days of arriving in the country. To whom? I don’t know. And where? I don’t know. And why? Not the foggiest. What the consequences of doing it 30 days after the 8 days are up? No idea!

Next week’s challenge will be to get a codice fiscal (the Italian equivalent of the National Insurance number) and a Carta di Residenza. I think I’ll need to make a trip into Ancona for those. Please all send happy bureaucracy vibes from Monday.

Yesterday I’m thrilled to say I finally got some sailing in! And my idyllic vision of sailing around the coast, stopping for a bit of sunbathing and swimming was pretty much exactly what happened 🙂 It was a lovely sailing boat too (Bavaria – 37 feet possibly?), the nicest I’ve been on yet and very spacious. The guys went snorkelling to get what looked like a wide array of muscles, cockles etc. from the reef we stopped near and then we teamed up with another boat in the evening for seafood pasta (bruschetta for me) and some drinks. And I overcame my mild fear of jellyfish as one touched my arm as I was swimming and it didn’t even hurt (I’ve decided it wasn’t a Portugese Man of War). All in all, a lovely evening and didn’t get back until gone 1am.

Camera 360
View from the boat towards Ancona (from Portonovo)

So let me update you on my Italian learning. Every day is like an old style family gathering consisting of Charades and Pictionary… I have fun. It makes me laugh. But, but, ARGH!!!!!! In a group, it’s IMPOSSIBLE! You can’t get members of a group that are chatting at the speed of light and laughing to stop to mime something out… If you pluck up the courage and ask, then the extensive mime / explanation ruins their joke… If you smile and laugh along, you risk being asked an incomprehensible question and them finding out you’ve not understood a word, but if you don’t smile and laugh along, you look like a miserable sod! In summary, I’ve become an atmosphere killer!!! I don’t want to kill atmospheres!!!

And let me tell you something else – the Italians, if you’re not clear about something and the miming hasn’t worked and if they do know a bit of English that they learnt at school when they were 5 for a maybe a week at summer school, then they’re still able to launch into a very acceptable level of English with such a comprehensive array of English vocab that even I would struggle to come up with. And they keep saying “ah, but your Italian isn’t THAT bad considering you’ve only been here a month”. But then, I’ve had 4 years worth of lessons off and on! 4 YEARS! When I meet new people I’m going to say I’ve had a month of lessons so that I can maintain face. Though I think they’d have become proficient in 3 languages in the same month period.

I’ve joined a website to acquire some people to speak Italian too. I’ll need a string of people so that when one decides that it’s too exhausting talking to me (see above), I’ll have another lined up 🙂  Alas, its members appear to think it’s a dating website (it’s not!), and well not even “dating” given some of the messages I’ve been getting :-o. Anyway, it’s been amusing me immensely. You should see some of their pictures – professionally taken photos of them sprawled on sun loungers wearing only budgie smugglers – I have to look through my hands at them. However, I’ve acquired a couple of Italian messenger-ees through it that seem to be vaguely normal – it’s been quite good, a slower more controlled way of talking to people so I can make sure I’m saying what I want to say before I have to say it.

My neighbour came around a couple of days ago bearing battered courgette flowers (battered as in fried in batter, not er, knocked about) which was lovely of him. He’s an artist and lives with his mum and dad next door. It was quite a successful visit – he’s got an apartment or a house in Camerano for rent which he’s going to show me around tomorrow and he’s given me an open invite to eat dinner with them whenever I want. And I’m less fussed about killing atmospheres in close family settings so that might be quite good for the language quest too. Hmm. I wonder what I could get them to mime?

What’s a bit odd: This week’s feature – chocolate! I haven’t had a single chocolate bar since I came here – not a one. Not through lack of trying. The supermarkets sell like the big bars which look like they’re for cooking with rather than eating and at the tills, they have mints and chewing gum – I mean honestly, that’s not very enticing is it?! Who thinks “Mmmm I could really do with a mint right now”? Actually people probably do. But still, I think the Italian’s surely must be missing a trick? It’s a rare chocolate bar display that I’ve walked past without purchasing something from. They could probably retire off my chocolate purchases alone. And let’s face it, their now booming yoghurt trade  (oh, something terrible has happened – I was reduced to buying a new yoghurt brand as it’s the only one my local store stocks and it’s nasty! Ugh!).  Marco keeps asking me why I need to get a car – why don’t I just rent he asks? It’s because I want to be able to get around under my own steam, I say. But really, it’s because I want to be able to go to Auchan and buy yoghurt.

<10 minutes later> My new housemate has arrived from Russia with chocolates (From Russia with Chocolates… the makings of a good film?) – I like her a lot already. She’s gone to get a pizza and left the chocolates on the table.

Camera 360
Chocolates left on the table. Unguarded. An amateur mistake… (this pile was double that about 10 minutes ago)

Right, that’s me done for this week. Have a good week all 🙂


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Out and about and weird and wonderful wildlife…


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.


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.



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.



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.


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. 


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.



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! 



Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at