Posts Tagged With: sassotetto

Suspended armchairs, joining clubs and stormy skies…

Buonasera a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been a busy couple of weeks here as ever it feels! The weather hasn’t been that great which has been good for the photography – stormy skies are definitely more dramatic¬†than gorgeous blue cloudless ones! I apologise in advance for the abundance of photos in this week’s blog post ūüôā

The ruin of UK roads…

I popped back to the UK for a whistle-stop tour. It was lovely to catch up with people¬†that I managed¬†to see, though this trip¬†seemed shorter than ever. This visit included a journey¬†up north to see my friend so there was also a fair bit of driving involved. I never thought I’d say this but I actually prefer driving in Italy. The number of variable average speed checks in the UK these days makes for very painful car journeys! Oh how times have changed from when I was so terrified of driving here that I used to message my parents to tell them that I was going to the shops in the car and, fearful I might not¬†make it back alive, that I loved them.

IMPORTANT TIP FOR BIKE RIDERS!

I am also now fully equipped for bike riding! I have lights, a bag, a pump and a water bottle. I also discovered¬†an interesting tip for bike riding: sometimes, one should pump up ones tires. Who knew?! (Yes yes, don’t be mean! For some reason it just never occurred to me). I have never pumped up my tires. Anyway, I’m pleased to confirm it goes like a dream now, though alas, I do not. It seems pumped up tires do improve things a bit but the whole experience is still unfortunately¬†exhausting. I’m hoping to do my longest, highest ever bike ride in the next couple of weeks so I shall keep you posted on that. If I manage it, I might actually order myself some sort of medal.

Street Performers of Pennabilli

In the last few days there’s been a reasonably well-known festival called “Artisti in Piazza” in a little town called Pennabilli, in the Emilia-Romagna region. From Sarnano, where I live, it’s a bit of a trek but definitely worth a visit. The festival is very impressive – it runs for 5 days and street performers from around the world come to demonstrate¬†their skills, whether that’s singing, acrobatics, comedy, magic, dance etc. It reminded me a bit of Covent Garden in London with the street performers – though these ones generally¬†had a lot more apparatus. In London,¬†you wouldn’t get an acrobatic performance complete with people doing handstands on suspended armchairs so there was definitely an extra dimension to the performances in¬†Pennabilli. It was great¬†to see performers from all over the world; it really was very international!

Unfortunately it rained for the first part¬†of our visit but it didn’t spoil¬†the atmosphere. People still stuck it out with their umbrellas!

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I think probably my favourite bit though was just Pennabilli itself Рthe town is lovely and set in the most beautiful countryside.  I could definitely live there!

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Club Alpino Italiano (CAI)  Membership!

I have joined a club! I like clubs! This one is a walking club. Club Alpino Italiano has¬†lots of different offshoots across the country and I’ve joined the Sarnano one. They go walking every Sunday around the mountains. It’s great! Everyone seems really nice too.

About this time every year the mountains are covered in flowers and Sunday was a local “fioritura” (flowering) walk to learn more about them. Look at how pretty my local mountains are…Pennabilli and Sassotetto (27 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (28 of 35)

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We had a guide who told us about the flowers when we came across them¬†and if they had any interesting features. One of my favourites can be set on fire and used as a torch whereas others you can use to poison people (beware those who cross me). Here are some of the flowers that are in the area¬†at the moment…

In other news, I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago to see Niccol√≤¬†Fabi perform in the theatre at Assisi. Niccol√≤ is a local musician who’s made it reasonably big in Italy so the venue was completely packed out with almost everyone able to sing along¬†to his songs. I think I stuck out like a sore thumb, I only knew the chorus of one of his songs! It’s a good¬†one though with a nice sentiment. If you want to hear it, have a look here.

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I think that about sums up the last few days. I hope you’ve all had good weeks too ūüôā

The next update will be about by upcoming blog tour! I’ve been invited along to Hotel San Salvador in Bellaria Igea Marina to spend a few days checking out the hotel and the local area. I can’t wait. Watch this space!

x

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Poor Poisoned Pusses, Ankle Biters and Events!

Buonasera a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been a little on the stressful side here!¬†I shall start with the most stressful and work my way in a random fashion to the least stressful…

The Terrible Incident of the Poisoned Cats

For a short time last¬†week I was left in charge of the neighbour’s collection of animals. My neighbour has countless chickens, rabbits and about 9 cats. ¬†The morning after she left, I found one of the cats, Batfink’s girlfriend¬†(Batfink is my cat),¬†in an awful state – frothing at the mouth, meowing a very mournful¬†little meow and convulsing. Poor little thing. I phoned the vet who asked me to take her to see him,¬†which I was just about to do until I then noticed Batfink¬†frothing at the mouth as well. Suspicious, I checked up on the others and they all seemed well although¬†Storm, a sweet little black cat, was missing. Eventually I located him unable to move in a field, he was frothing at the mouth as well. Three ill cats! The vet took pity on me and came out and took them all¬†to his practice. It turns out they had eaten slug pellets. Generally cats don’t eat them but it emerges there are some types of slug pellet that are very appealing and yet very poisonous to cats. Poor Batfink’s girlfriend didn’t make it,¬†which I’m really sad about. I do miss her. Batfink and Storm thankfully pulled through. By the time the slug pellet theory materialized, another of the cats had been poisoned. Luckily he pulled through as well. Shortly after I managed to locate and resolve what I thought was the source of the pellets (a delicate situation in itself – I fear it may have been another cat loving neighbour who had been unwittingly using the pellets and I didn‚Äôt want to upset him). All has been well for a few days and then, Storm showed up in an awful state frothing at the mouth again. He’s currently having an overnighter with the vet so fingers crossed! Perhaps I should train to be a vet?! ¬†I think it would be a less expensive situation overall with the way¬†things are going!

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This is one of the new kittens, thankfully unaffected by the Slug Pellet Saga this week. I think I’m going to call her Cindy for her little mole on her lip. In fact, she might be a he. I’ll have a re-think if so, ¬†I don’t want to give him a complex.

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Awwwwwwwwwww…

Italian Funerals

Sadly, I had to go to a funeral this week here in Italy. It’s only the¬†second funeral that I’ve attended and my first in Italy so I didn’t know quite what to expect. They have a quick turnaround time here, with funerals taking place only one or two days¬†following the person’s death. When¬†someone dies, they ring the local church bells and then a poster goes up on several memorial notice boards in town which tell you who has died and when the funeral is. The funeral I went to was closed casket, I think they often are but there does seem to be an opportunity to see the person before the funeral at their home or at the hospital. The Italians are ‘gobsmacked’ by the length of time it takes us in the UK to bury people – their main confusion is around where the people are put between the time of death and burial. I’m no expert. I told them we have special buildings with large fridges.¬†That’s what it seems like in the serial killer documentaries at least.

The church service¬†itself was probably much like a church service in the UK. They do not have an Order of Service but they do have a sort of memento you can take away. It’s usually got a photos of the¬†person and a comforting quote. People wear whatever they usually wear to the funeral. I wore a rather plain dress and felt positively glamorous in comparison to almost everyone else. They go to the cemetery after the church. People aren’t often buried in the ground here – they’re slotted into a wall. If you’re well off, you’ll have a family tomb, otherwise you’re slotted into a large generic wall. There doesn’t seem to be much said at the cemetery itself and it’s all quite a practical affair. They have a bricklayer in situ who actually seals the coffin in the wall there and then. They don’t seem to have the concept of a wake and there’s not generally a gathering after the event. It was obviously a very sad occasion of course but quite interesting at the same time to see how different it is to the way things are done in the UK.

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This is a bit of a blurry example that I took years ago at the cemetery in Camerano

Walks not to do in Elcito…

Elcito is a tiny little village atop Monte San Vicino or at least atop a sort of mountainous outcrop of it. I found it¬†very evocative. It seems totally abandoned apart from a garden and a little cafe/bar. It’s lovely to just sit in what must have been a little meeting spot and look out at the scenery.

It’s set in a lovely area of¬†Le Marche which I haven’t really explored.¬†There are some good walks around Elcito. Alas, we didn’t do one of them. Instead we walked downhill 2 or 3 km, realised that we weren’t even close to doing one of the recognised¬†walks and that there wasn’t really an adequate way of getting back unless we went back the way we came so¬†we had to walk back up again. All in all, it was an unsatisfactory walk but there was gorgeous scenery which more than made up for it. I’m hoping to go back soon and do a decent walk!

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There’s some beautiful flowers out at the moment. Anyone know what tree this blossom belongs to? On a separate note, the blossom from the Acacia (seems to be called Black Locust in English) with its white blossom is so prevalent here that it seems like it’s snowing on a windy day!

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Sitting in the little grassed over meeting point, I spent ages photographing the very busy bees!

Tagliatelle making

In this week’s successful news is a new found appreciation for pasta making. I really like tagliatelle but it’s more expensive than other types of pasta and being the miser that I am, I find it difficult to justify¬†buying it. Now that I know how cheap it is to make, it’s even more difficult to justify buying it!¬†To make tagliatelle for 2, you just need 200g of flour and two eggs. My eggs come from the next door neighbour and the wheat is bought from a mill in Gualdo so it’s all quite nice and fresh with organic ingredients. I’m not a pasta aficionado but it doesn’t taste bad either. The only issue is that it requires more time than getting it out of a packet! I don’t buy bread these days either – I make a big batch every now and then, cut it into slices and then freeze them so I can just take out a slice¬†as and when I want it. I think I might start doing that with pasta as well (not slices)!

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Watercolour class

I’m having a great time at the watercolour class on Friday’s. It’s a really difficult ¬†medium – it’s definitely something, I think anyway, that requires a bit of guidance and tuition first. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally. I’ve done a couple of portraits and some landscapes. You’d think landscapes would be easier but I’ve struggled more with them than anything else! I’ve also found a good group for artists in Le Marche too and so I’m hoping to get out in the field with them to get some more practice in. It’s a very relaxed medium as you just can’t rush otherwise you’ll ruin your painting. You paint a bit, and when you can’t do anymore you can just sit and admire the scenery in the sunshine and wait for your painting to dry a bit before you do the ¬†next thing. Lovely!

Antiques fair in Recanati

Now that summer is coming there’s an increasing number of events out and about. One of my expat friends was over a couple of weeks ago and what we always seem to do together is to find events to go to that are either cancelled or just perhaps don’t even exist in the first place! We decided this time we’d attempt to go to an antiques fair in Recanati, a town in Le Marche towards the coast. However, during the drive, the heavens opened and it seemed even more improbable that there would be a fair. I lowered my expectations of a successful antiques fair visit from an already low 10% to 0%. However,¬†we were surprised to find¬†that the fair was on and people (albeit not many) were there! We finished off in an English pub stunning the barmen with our darts playing prowess (they probably hadn’t seen anyone so consistently miss the dartboard before).

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My friend found some crystal glasses for an absolute bargain. I, however,¬†wander around all antiques markets in a state of amazement at the sheer number of ghastly things brought together in one place.¬†I’m so busy concentrating on nightmarish ornaments that alas, I suspect I miss out on genuine bargains.

Scarfiotti Race in Sarnano

A couple of weeks ago¬†the 26th Scarfiotti Sarnano to Sassotetto car race was held. Once a year, Sarnano is full to the brim with fancy cars, be they¬†formula one or ancient antique style cars. They have a time trial up the mountain. Sarnano has about 3300 inhabitants. I wouldn’t class it as a totally sleepy little village but it’s approaching that description. I am quite frankly stunned that once a year, apparently reasonably well-known people come with their reasonably well-known cars to compete in what is apparently a reasonably well-known competition. Isn’t that lovely?!¬†I’m quite proud of my little town! It’s just a shame that it rained almost the whole time and on the main race day, there was just so much water that it would be difficult to have distinguished road from waterfall. Anyway, perhaps next year I can see if they’ll let me compete with the Fiat Panda.It’s a good little car, I think I could take on the cars below…

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This car clearly has nothing on my Fiat Panda.

Abbadia di Fiastra

There’s a series of 3 concerts set in¬†the woods at Abbadia di Fiastra¬†(Le Marche) which have taken place over the last couple of Sundays with the last one this coming Sunday. Abbadia di Fiastra is a lovely setting. There’s an abbey and two or three restaurants and lots of countryside to explore. The concert was good and quite atmospheric set in the woods.

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There were a lot of people at the event… Here’s a photo. I was testing out my “dreamy” setting on the camera!

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The first of the three concerts was a flute quartet

Festa dell’Europa in Macerata

Every year in Macerata there’s a festa to celebrate European food of all different types. The UK was represented. This place below (alas blurry) was serving fish and chips and burgers! (I feel like we were cheated a little in terms of quality, probably understandably given the lack of equipment). It was a good and lively event with lots of stalls and lots of people. We ended up eating in another English style place. They served coleslaw (or “coldslow” as they called it), chips, onion rings and some sort of chicken quiche affair for meat eaters.

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The highs and lows of bike riding

The bike riding is going reasonably well. I say only ‘reasonably well’ because it’s not serving its primary purpose which was to get fitter and lose weight. I shall be leaving my body to medical science. The more exercise I do and the healthier I eat,¬†the fatter I become and the worse¬†my general fitness becomes (thought I am getting¬†better on the bike).¬†However, I have accepted my fate and have discovered other unforeseen advantages to going out on the bike: I’m often awestruck by the scenery and this way, I get to see¬†more than if I’m¬†walking and have a bit more flexibility than going with a car where I can’t stop and admire the scenery or take photos quite so easily. If it was just exercise (that seems to yield no/negative results) I probably would have given up by now, but it’s nice to see the countryside in a different way. A couple of days ago I came across¬†a porcupine happily running towards me (I was less happy about it running towards me but it was great to see nonetheless! I’ve only ever seen dead ones at the side of the road). And look at the countryside below…. this was taken the other day from a ride to Gualdo, one of the closest towns. Isn’t it just beautiful?!

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In addition to trying to get up¬†hills and mountains, I’ve discovered the most pressing¬†challenge is how to avoid getting bitten by dogs. They all seem to be trained from an early age to attack cyclists. Going up hills with large rabid looking dogs¬†biting at my¬†ankles certainly adds a level of excitement and gives me that all important motivational push when I’m flagging. Perhaps as well as padded cycle shorts I could get padded ankle protectors. Anyway, so far my record is 23km which will seem like nothing to proper cyclists but half of that was up an entirely vertical incline.

I think that about sums up the¬†last couple of weeks! I hope you’re all having a good Monday ūüôā

Ciao a tutti,

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! ūüôā

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 ūüôā

xxx

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Alcohol improved drawings, snow-capped mountains and piadina making…

Buongiorno a tutti!

How is everyone?¬†There’s not much to report I’m afraid this time around. I’ve been busy doing a bit of teaching, going to¬†the art course on Wednesday’s and I’ve also been doing some ‘arty’ things at home. The art course was quite interesting last week. We drew using a biro and then poured alcohol over it (pure alcohol – the remnants of your wine bottle won’t work). It has quite an interesting effect! I’ll continue experimenting this week and when I’m actually happy with something I’ll post up a photo ūüôā

We have snow capped mountains! It’s so pretty! I can’t wait to go snowboarding this year. I’ve just bought some more snowboarding gear too. My nearest snowboarding place is¬†Sassotetto,¬†¬†only¬†25 minutes drive away ūüôā

I have been out and about, evidence below:

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Look, caps of snow on the mountain!!!!!!!!

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Before the snow came, in fact just the day before, I decided to have a drive in the mountains because when it gets snowy a lot of the roads are blocked off. I had plans to take some nice sunset photos but it was so windy that the tripod kept blowing over.

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This is taken from one of my favourite beaches РSan Michele. 

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And this was taken from the other end of the beach.¬†That’s Monte Conero ahead. Apparently it’s shaped like a lion’s head. I think you need to squint to get that.

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This was Sarnano taken at the crack of dawn before the snow came.

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And this is one of my new favourite mountain places near Amandola.

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At the weekend I went to a “Degustazione”, a sort of tasting event of Brunello and Chianti wine,¬†where¬†an excellent country band called Backroads¬†were playing. ¬†These guys¬†sung in perfect South American accents (I checked and they were indeed Italian). Very impressive! Here I was able to show my prowess of wine knowledge by accidentally orchestrating the mixing of the Brunello and Chianti wines in one glass to create an interesting mix. Apparently this is not the done thing (but I can confirm it still tasted of red wine).

I also went on a Piadina making course at a lovely local B&B called Residence VerdeQuiete which has a great open space¬†they use occasionally for running courses. Piadinas are a type of flat bread -a bit like a tortilla but perhaps a bit thicker and a bit more rigid. The course was great, run by Simonetta Sfoglina. ¬†At the end of the session, we had a very tasty “degustazione” (the term works for piadinas just as well as wine!). We ended up with 6 or so piadinas to take away with us.¬†I¬†have to admit, I hanker after Mexican food which is hard to come by here so I somewhat corrupted the italian nature of mine and made fahitas with them!!! Mmmmmmm………………….

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Piadina! Traditional fillings are usually cheese, salad and/or meat based.

The next couple of weeks will be quite busy. On Thursday and Friday I’ll be heading to Forl√¨ (it’s a city ¬†in Emilia-Romagna, about 2 or 3 hours from here) ¬†to meet with some other Italian based bloggers for a tour of the city. We are to be shown some¬†of the local cuisine and to check out the art and museums, so¬†I¬†can’t wait for that. I shall report back at the weekend.

Then there’s a “Ciaspolata” (snowshoeing walk) on Sunday on one of the nearby mountains. I’ve never done that so I’m quite excited about that too. Then on Wednesday I’m off to Berlin for a few days before going back to the sunny UK for Christmas! I’m looking forward to being in a house with central heating. My bathroom is so cold that I’m considering getting a commode to put by the fire.

I think that about covers the last few days. I hope you are all having good weeks!

x

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Snowboarding, Gazelles and Dog-led tours…

Ciao a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been fairly quiet and sedate here in the last couple of weeks. Here’s an update…

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snooooow!

We have snow! The weather has been so dull and dreary for ages but on Monday it finally snowed¬†and whilst we were here (the last time was at Christmas when we weren’t) and it was an experience!

It turns out there’s a whole bunch of things you have to do when it properly snows: Leave your gate open lest you can’t open it the following day, get your snow shovel out and somewhere accessible, don’t put the handbrake on the car lest it freeze over and leave your car unlocked in case¬†the lock freezes over (I assure you the last two pieces of advice did not come from a car thief, though it does seem like they could have). Then there’s a whole technique to snow shoveling. And then did you know icicles are quite nice to eat? We had an baptism¬†of fire with the immediate neighbour giving us heaps of advice about what to do and not to do before we went off in force up the road in order to clear it with the other neighbour. It had quite a nice little community feel and if it had been feasibly¬†possible for 4 people to snowshovel the same bit of road without getting in each others way and being told off, I would have quite enjoyed it! We had a mistra (lethal¬†aniceed drink)¬†laden espresso at the end to finish off – all’s well that ends well.

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This is our terrace – we should probably put the table and chairs away :-s

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And this is Sarnano at the moment taken from the front garden

Snowboarding

Then, because it was an absolutely stunning day and it had been snowing, we thought it might be an ideal time to go snowboarding, so up the mountain we went. Perhaps only in Italy would the ski-lifts¬†be¬†closed because of, well, snow. There was one horrible lift open though – not those nice chair lifts that you can sit on and admire the scenery as you go up, but button lifts where the lift guy shoves a bit of plastic between your legs and you’re dragged up one by one by your bottom (they should be called bottom lifts perhaps). ¬†The next day was much more productive and all the lifts were open again so that made for a much more entertaining day. The slopes are fairly short and there’s a very limited number of them but it’s just brilliant having them only a twenty minute drive away. We got a cheap hire deal on snowboarding stuff – 10 euros a day and it was 11 euros for a day ski pass. What an absolutely bargain!

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The piste. As you can see, it’s absolutely packed. Full of people.

Woofer Guided Tours

I’m on a mission to track my walks and write up guides for tourists so on a day where it wasn’t so grim we went for a long walk around Sarnano. We were met by a random collarless dog (they all are to be honest) who led¬†us for most of the walk.¬†We decided he might make a reasonable tour guide – he could pick up tourists at 11am on Sundays. Alas, he was easily distracted and ran off after an hour so we didn’t get an opportunity to discuss the details.

Woofer the Tour Guide meeting us at the start of the walk

Woofer the Tour Guide meeting us at the start of the walk. We did worry a bit that perhaps he was trying to lead us to little Timmy who’d fallen down a well.

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We found some unstable looking hunting shacks during the walk

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Italy is dotted with old houses that have fallen into ruin. I want to rescue them all! It’s very sad. On the plus side, they do make for good photos.

Batfink the teenager

Batfink is going through a teenage phase. He’s not washing (well he does, but he still smells), eats all the time, sleeps all day and when he isn’t, he just acts up. He was quite funny in the snow the other day though so that made up for it. He doesn’t like people throwing snowballs at him.

 

The cat didn't walk through the snow but leapt like a gazelle.  Very elegant.

The cat didn’t walk through the snow but leapt like a gazelle. He was very elegant.

Bread experimentations

I’m still making bread though I’ve¬†calmed down a little. I think I’ve nailed regular loaves of bread that taste ok and have a good texture and look so I’m focusing my efforts on sourdough bread.

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Latest sourdough bread attempt – I think it looks quite pretty. I can’t stop marvelling at bread – it’s just flour and water and salt. Amazing!

Sewing machine inventions

I bought a new sewing machine a week or so back so I’ve been experimenting with that. So far so good though I’ve recalled why I get fed up with sewing. It’s not the sewing per se, it’s the ironing which¬†seems to be an integral part. The iron is surely the most futile¬†invention known to mankind. However, it seems to be essential for trying to sew straight seams so I’ve managed to locate an iron for the purpose of that and my sewing project has thus been delayed by several days due to my lack of ironing motivation!

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I don’t really have much of a clue about sewing but I’m steadily learning! The prototype didn’t go too badly – hopefully I’ll finish another three in the next week.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks. Have good weeks the rest of you…

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Sightseeing, kitten-napping update and mushroom identification

Ciao a tutti!

Well another busy couple of weeks here. Here’s a rundown….

Parental Check up

My parents came out for a few days to see the new house. Dad was the one that found the house on a website in the first place so I think it was interesting to see it in the flesh! It’s a pretty unconventional setup. The first couple of days were¬†frustratingly dull and wet (the weather that is!) but it brightened up – it’s always nicer in the sun.

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Mum & Dad heading to a lookout point in the mountains overlooking Lago di Fiastra (Lake Fiastra)

 

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Last time I was there, there were lots of bright blue thistle type things. This time, there were some bright pink ones. The bees seem to like them too!

Then we visited Lago di Fiastra. Absolutely dead but still beautiful with crystal clear water.

Then we visited Lago di Fiastra. Absolutely dead in terms of anyone there compared to a month before when it was teeming with people still. I think I prefer it when there’s fewer people – much more serene.

 

Archery competition - it did look good fun though they seemed to treat it as very serious business!

We happened upon an archery competition in the lovely hill top town of San Ginesio – it did look good fun though they seemed to treat it as very serious business!

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One of the archery targets. Poor boar. I hasten to add this was a fake boar but still!

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My parent’s visit was characterised by me taking us to various festivals and markets that didn’t actually exist. This is Cessapalombo, a local town, where there was supposed to be a food festival. I don’t think we saw a single person let alone a festival. Then we went to Tolentino for a Farmer’s Market which just ended up being a small grocers store. Still, it was interesting to see the local towns!

 

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This is the Basilica of San Nicholas in Tolentino. It’s pretty spectacular – particularly the ceiling. It also has….

 

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… a lovely cloister (a sort of covered walkway around a square – I think!). But the best thing about the Basilica of San Nicholas is…

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…this huge nativity scene of the birth of Jesus. It’s a great scene – going from morning to night over the course of¬†a few minutes with rousing music in the background.¬†If you ever visit the Basicila, you have to go through the gift shop to find this – it’s hidden!

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We went on a nice walk between my house and Sarnano past some pretty scenery.

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This is a pic of Sarnano taken from my garden (Mum & Dad brought out my telephoto lens, thanks M&D)

Fai da te (DIY)

The kitchen is FINALLY done (ish!). The Ikea fitters came and managed to cope with the wonky walls and I’m thrilled to say we now have a working kitchen complete with non lethal cooker (the last gas one used to have a habit of burning off your eyebrows).

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Before (well, still “after” given we knocked out the chimney, filled the floor, knocked out the sink and had all the electrics done. After a week solid of plastering, myself and Pane Caldo were unable to move our hands or touch anything.

 

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But now it’s done ūüôā There’s still some work to be done on the tiles and we need to paint but it’s coming along. Alas, the hob itself uses all the electricity for the entire house so I need to phone the electricity company to talk to them about it and see what that entails.

 

Kittens

I have terrible kitten news ūüė¶ Three of next door neighbours’ kittens died this week after¬†a bout of flu. Poor little things. There’s one survivor called Mimi who since his brothers and sisters have died, has been quite adventurous and always seems to want a cuddle or to play. I really hope nothing happens to him, he’s really quite adorable.

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Neve the deaf, blind, tailless cat has been trying to make more kittens.

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This is Mimi (I’m sure that’s a girl’s name?!) snuggled up on my lap. Pane Caldo has dubbed him Batfink because he has large pointy ears.

 

Funghi

I’ve been on a funghi identification mission recently and have even bought a book on it. I have hundreds of mushroom photo’s now to work through to¬†try and identify. I think it’s probably a futile task given there’s absolutely no chance at all that I would ever eat anything that I picked, but still, it appeals to my self-sufficient ideals.

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It doesn’t inspire me with confidence in that the start of any mushroom identification article or book seems to have one sentence on what good fun it is to pick mushrooms and then several paragraphs dedicated to how dangerous it is. One article said that¬†a number of people in 2010 died in Italy mushroom picking. However, they all went at night and fell off cilffs. Not quite as damning then for the funghi identification but I’m still not going to eat any!

 

These next few weeks should be a bit calmer – there’s no more visits planned and no deadlines to meet so the focus now will be on less DIY related things and more on creative things, at least up until Christmas. ¬†I’ve been socialising a bit more with the neighbours which has been really nice so hoping to do a bit more of that too. My house is 100 years old. I’m actually in only a bit of it – 4 separate people own the full house it turns out. I had thought it was 3!

Right that’s enough from me for now. Have good weeks & buona serata!

xxx

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Summer Jamboree, festas and house update…

Ciao all!

How is everybody? It‚Äôs been a busy week or two here again ‚Äď in fact, I feel like it‚Äôs going to be busy until Christmas at this rate! Exciting busy rather than stressful busy so that‚Äôs ok.

So ‚Äď a quick run-through of what I’ve been up to…

Summer Jamboree

My long standing readers might remember that¬†I never made it to Senigallia’s Summer Jamboree last year (one of the biggest rock & roll festivals in the world) because I took the wrong train taking me two hours south¬†instead of 25 minutes north where I was supposed to be going. But this year, I‚Äôm thrilled to report that I made it! And it‚Äôs such a great event ‚Äď a night of great music and lots to see and do and the atmosphere was buzzing. I’ve never seen so many people in one place in Italy. Everyone makes a real effort and dresses up in 50‚Äôs kind of gear. I had a great time dancing, and¬†would have loved to have done a bit more (stupid headache). Strangely though, despite the amount of effort everyone had gone to to dress up, nobody else was dancing!

 

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Summer Jamboree… nobody is dancing! Perhaps it was still too early (midnight though?!?!)

Castrum Sarnani

The next day¬†we headed back inland to the Sarnano house and went to a medieval festa (‚Äúparty‚ÄĚ) called Castrum Sarnani in Sarnano. That ended up being a good evening too ‚Äď lots of people dressed up in medieval costume and plying medieval trades in a medieval fashion. All Italian events seem to generally focus on food and this was no exception ‚Äď there were lots of tavernas selling `olde-worlde` food which you could buy with denari (old Italian coins that a guy was making as part of the medieval trades).¬† We caught a ‚Äúfire guy‚ÄĚ display (I‚Äôm not sure how else to describe him) ‚Äď he set things alight¬†and waved them around energetically – ¬†and to good effect. For once, I had access to a decent camera rather than my phone camera¬†(which is sometimes actually depressingly better than my expensive decent camera) so I had fun playing with some effects for a change. I think I‚Äôll take the decent camera out more often.

Fire Guy doing fire related things

Fire Guy doing fire related things

Due Sorrelle

Next up was a long walk to a beautiful little bay back around Monte Conero with Il Polemico, his friend and Pane Caldo. We left from Sirollo….

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That speck in the distance on the right hand on the hill is the little village of Sirollo. We walked to the point where the photo was taken, a beautiful look-out point and then….

 

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…we walked down to the little speck of beach you can see… The two smaller rocks sticking out of the water are the `due sorelle`(the two sisters).

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This was the view from the beach looking back at where we’d taken the photo on the top of that cliff

We went at a bad time of year ‚Äď in every other month other than July and August, it‚Äôs usually empty because it‚Äôs a very steep, long, dangerous and usually forbidden, walk down to it. However, because it‚Äôs summer and the Italians are all off school and work, ferries run to and fro so¬†it was jam-packed! It was lovely all the same though and the sea was really refreshing after the walk down. Then came the walk back up ‚Äď it took¬†3 days for my legs to work properly again.

Urba Salvia

Then…. Roman ruins! We keep driving past these on the way to the Sarnano house and it‚Äôs always intrigued us so we finally stopped after a rather unsuccessful trip to buy garden furniture in Civitanova though we did find a good sized mall there so that was good to discover at least. Urbs Salvia is a lovely little park to wander around with an ancient roman theatre to look at and lots of cute little picnic spots with fabulous views. There‚Äôs an amphitheatre and a tower too (I think?) which we didn‚Äôt get to see because I was too cheap to buy a tour ticket. We must do that one day when I don‚Äôt feel like I‚Äôm about to go bankrupt (see House section).

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Part of the roman theatre – it looked more impressive in real life (and there was a fence hence the odd angle)

Sassotetto

We attempted to go to another festa in Sassotetto following our Roman ruin trek and though we didn‚Äôt find it (unless it consisted of a priest doing an outside mass), I‚Äôm so pleased we went. Sassotetto is a ski resort so it‚Äôs quite high up ‚Äď 1624 metres and wow, what amazing views. It‚Äôs only about 20 minutes down (up?!) the road (in the winter, with my current car, I think it will be about 3 hours, if we¬†arrives at all). I think it‚Äôs one of my favourite spots in Italy so far and you can even see Monte Conero from the top which is comforting! I‚Äôm pleased because I‚Äôd sort of developed my ‚Äúfavourite places‚ÄĚ tour for visitors which was all around Camerano so now I‚Äôve got a tour all worked out for around here too.

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Warning: Do not approach these flowers with flipflops

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Pretty pretty pretty….

House Update!

The house developments so far seem to be limited to buying everything in Ikea and OBI (the Italian equivalent of the UK‚Äôs B&Q). I am not naturally a spender – I am a saver. If I do reluctantly spend, it‚Äôs generally for the purposes of existing or to enable me to save more money for a long term plan or project. So it goes against my very essence to go into a shop and buy stuff. But buying stuff is necessary, particularly if I want to have a nice house with a fully functioning kitchen and a comfortable bedroom reasonably quickly, as I do.¬† So my recent extravagance is giving me a prolonged panic attack. Things should be delivered¬†from Ikea at some point during the week of the 28th August. Note I said ‘week’. In the UK, I used to get annoyed if I had to stay in the entire morning or afternoon because companies couldn’t¬†be specific about when they‚Äôd deliver. In Italy, you seemingly have to take a week off work to wait patiently for them to arrive. Also, I don‚Äôt know how they‚Äôll find the house. Even I still struggle to find it. I will be nothing less than gobsmacked if my Ikea delivery arrives.

Wifi is being connected shortly¬†too ‚Äď we currently use an internet dongle to access the internet which is painful so wifi will be amazing. With any luck by the end of the week I‚Äôll be able to Skype people again!

In terms of upcoming work on the house, I’ve been very organised and produced a floor plan and highlighted where we’d like changes and produced an accompanying spreadsheet going into more detail. This has been sent off to the Estate Agent who sold us the house (an American) and who also does renovation work with local tradesmen. I’ve also got the names of other local trades people. Going with them may be cheaper but also inevitably scarier because of the language barrier. I can chit chat in Italian but I can’t yet go into detail on building/electrical and plumbing requirements. So that’ll be entertaining.

We‚Äôve also been doing some gardening, focussing on the terrace. Pane Caldo came up with a pot recycling scheme with¬†some of the old things left by¬†the previous owner that¬†we were going to throw¬†out. They‚Äôve now been turned into stunning plant pots. Visiting the garden centre proved to be rather¬†amusing with our conversations go thusly ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs this do you think?‚ÄĚ…… ‚Äúhmm, It‚Äôs definitely a plant‚ÄĚ…….. ‚ÄúYeah, that‚Äôs what I thought. Shall we get it?‚ÄĚ……… ‚ÄúYeah‚ÄĚ. ¬† ¬†I’ve decided our conversations should include more by way of gardening vocabulary. Anyway, our garden centre visit has resulted in, I think, a rather unconventional strawberry plant hanging basket, a pretty plant that we hacked the roots off in order to fit into an old kettle, and two random flowering plants of which one looks mostly dead. Still, I‚Äôm pleased with the results!

Ok, well I know we have rosemary, a chilli plant, some herbs and some strawberry plants. Does anyone know what the flowers are?

Ok, well I know we have rosemary, a chilli plant, some herbs and some strawberry plants. Does anyone know what the flowers are?

You may have seen the impressive selection of veg we received from the neighbours in the last blog. Well, I have plans to share our impressive harvest with them...

You may have seen the impressive selection of veg we received from the neighbours in the last blog. Well, I have plans to share our impressive harvest with them…

I am thrilled, THRILLED to report that Klaus the Scorpion hasn’t reappeared although I did see his young nephew in the cantina (which is the general stuff storage area so hardly surprising). I happened to mention the scorpion to the previous owner in an email asking about some house bits & pieces. He reported that I shouldn’t worry about them; their sting is just like a bee sting. However, I should worry about the deadly vipers. Excellent.

Ok that’s enough rambling for me! I hope you all have good weeks.

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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