Posts Tagged With: Senigallia

Sunbathing in Senigallia, Entertaining and Photography!

Buongiorno a tutti!!!

How is everyone? Well, I have a daunting amount of updating to do! It covers a bit before the Puglia trip at the beginning of the month and thereafter.  I shall aim to keep it short and sweet (I realise I’m not particularly adept at that!). On a separate note, if you’ve signed up to these posts by email (thank you!), I’m told it’s worth clicking on the link to read on the website as the layout is better. Anyway, between doing a bit of teaching, I have been…

Sunbathing in Senigallia

I spent a weekend with some good friends in their apartment in Senigallia at the end of June. The weather was amazingly hot and it was nice to have some time at the beach. We had an aperitivo at a lovely bar called Chalet Beach at Marina di Montemarciano and then finished up near the apartment in a great restaurant with candlelit tables on the beach. It was already busy back in June but later this week it’ll be even busier because they hold a Summer Jamboree – an international rock festival which I went to a couple of years ago and loved. We had some good sunsets whilst I was there, in particular one sunset that looked remarkably like the sky just before the aliens came down in the film ‘Independence Day’.

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Puglia (1 of 128)

Photographic Excursion

I also had a little photography excursion around the mountains near where I live with the friend who came to Puglia with me…

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Then a few days later some other friends with their 17 month old came out to stay for the weekend. I was slightly nervous because I wasn’t sure how ‘toddler-safe’ the house is. My stairs to get to the second floor, for example, are really something to behold – I’m considering attaching a mountaineering fixed line for people to attach themselves to as they go up and down. Anyway, I’m pleased to say that despite my concerns, the 17 month old left intact and happy and I think the parents did too!

Lounging in Lago di Bracciano

Then the a couple of days later I drove down to Lago di Bracciano with a friend. That was a bit of a long day – 9 hours of driving in one day. I think that’s about twice my personal record!

It was a good day though and it was nice to explore a new area. The lake has a swimming area and the sand is actually black (and really, REALLY hot!). It was a nice lake and I also visited Anguillara Sabazia, a little town jutting out into the lake which had a lovely ‘old town’ to wander around.

Watercolours!

I organised a little watercolour painting excursion too at Lago di Fiastra which I think went really well although there were only 4 of us. I think we were the talk of the beach! Everyone kept coming up to have a look. I felt like it could have been a comedy sketch – us four reasonably professional looking painters and then my painting at least, looked like a 2yr old could have done it. I can only imagine what people were thinking! Anyway, I’ve definitely got the bug, I’m hoping to organise another excursion in a couple of weeks, though to be honest, I haven’t entirely worked out the advantage of painting “live” as opposed from a photo! Our tutor said the other day that we should be ready to start painting something that we might want to put on our wall. I think I have vaguely managed that, or at least, my friend from the class wants one of my paintings to put on his wall! I’ll put some photos up of some paintings on the next update.

Colmurano “Artistrada” Festival

I’ve heard good things about the Colmurano “Artistrada” Festival for months. Colmurano is a little town in Le Marche, about half an hour from my house. The festa is one that celebrates all kinds of art forms – whether that’s painting, portrait drawing, music or street performances. I have to say, it was one of my favourite events that I’ve been to in Italy so far. Colmurano itself is pretty to just have a wander around but the events were all really good too. I even bought a CD by a guy called Geordie Little, a percussion guitarist (have a look at his videos on the link if you don’t know what percussion guitar is).

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Percussion Guitar is where you use all of the guitar – you might hit the sides to get effectively a drum beat and you might press the strings down on the neck like you’re playing a piano… it’s very interesting to watch!

Then we saw an excellent dance group who I unfortunately only saw through the phone of someone videoing it (thankfully,  otherwise I wouldn’t have seen a thing as it was so busy!) and then a brilliant fire-dancing group called Pyrodanza. I took some photos and they are going to put them in their online photo gallery 🙂

Party!

I am always being told by the Italian’s how many English people there are in Le Marche and up until a week or two back, I’d met only about 5,  which doesn’t seem to tie up with the high numbers I’d been told about. Anyway, I was invited to a party (I was the ‘plus one’) and there were dozens of us! DOZENS! When I moved out I was quite wary of not mixing only with ex-pats as that seems like it’s cheating a bit, but then that seemed an impossibility anyway because I couldn’t find any! However, it was great having a chat about other people’s experiences here, particularly with the language learning and I met a lot of like minded people so I’m pleased about that. The party itself, a celebration of a recent marriage, was fabulous too. We were even treated to a couple of celebrity singers!

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Ricardo Foresi and Monica Trapaga. Apologies for the blurry photo – I blame the phone camera (and not the wine)

Macerata Language Exchange Group Outing!

I recently discovered a lovely group of people, part of the Macerata Language Exchange group, wanting to improve their English (and sometimes their Italian, as many of them come from all over the world!). We met for a special “Games / Chatting” night at Civitanova organised by a professional facilitator, Adriano. It worked out very well in fact as we were prompted to talk about things that probably wouldn’t come up in normal conversation – goals, life history, stories… Good for my Italian! And I can’t tell you how amazing the place was where we had the event, Casablanca – it was absolutely stunning, complete with swimming pool and restaurant. I’ll definitely be going back there again.

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Trekking & The Walking Boots of Hell

I also went on a fab trek a couple of weeks ago in the Sibillini Mountains with some new fellow ex-pat friends. It was a gorgeous day and we walked up along the ridge of the mountains. It was difficult walking – through long damp grass and on uneven slopes, but satisfying and definitely worth it when we got up to the ridge which had amazing views. Alas, I slipped onto a rock and still have quite a painful leg as a result! However, it made me think. I spend a good potion of my time in the mountains slipping down them. I had previously been blaming my general ineptness at maintaining any kind of balance but it suddenly occurred to me it might be my old, cheapish walking boots. It was also a revelation when I spoke to the others about the state of their feet / boots that apparently, it’s not normal to feel like you’re tottering on bloodied painful stumps towards the end of a walk. WHO KNEW?!?! So, I’ve invested in expensive new walking boots and walking sticks (sporty ones rather than the old people ones), and they’re amazing! I hardly slip at all now (touch wood, or touch iron as the Italian’s say!) and my feet are still entirely operational after a long walk. This weekend there’s a long trek with my walking group in Gran Sasso, an area of the highest of the Apennine mountains. I had worried about being able to keep up but after a local walk this Sunday, I got approval to go by our walking group president who said I was very “tosta” (tough)!

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July (74 of 78)

This is the lovely Milly – she must have gone 20 times further than everyone else that day, bounding between the members of the group!

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Smerillo 

There’s been a festival in Smerillo, another very pretty little hill-top town with amazing panoramas of the area. It’s a yearly event called “Le Parole della Montagna” (the words of the mountain) and had some good mountain focused films and talks organised. Last Friday I saw Kurt Diemberger, one of only two survivors from the K2 Disaster in 1986, who gave a talk about his climbing experiences which was interesting. Nice chap. A bit short with people perhaps but in an amusing way!  I’ve since become obsessed with mountain disaster films. I will never feel daunted by a steep slope again.

Amandola Gelato Festival

This was one of those festa’s that was a bit of a let down. It started at 3pm apparently. Knowing that the Italian’s are somewhat of a ‘late’ nation,  my friend and I went at 5pm and they were still only just setting up. We had been expecting lots of different stalls selling unusual flavoured ice-creams but there was nothing. So we got a couple of drinks and watched them set up. By the time we left at about 6.30 all there was, was a guy explaining how to make ice-cream. So we had ice-cream from a normal gelataria (ice-cream shop) and left. There was a good band on later apparently and I wanted to go to the “Silent Disco” they had planned but it would have been a bit of a wait around for several hours so we headed back to check out the nightlife in Sarnano instead…

Checking out the old Italian classics

I haven’t really explored Sarnano at night – in fact, I could count on one hand the number of times I’d stayed in town after 10pm. It was actually busy with people milling around. We stopped at a bar called Decantautore to watch a band called Souvenir D’Italia play old Italian hits. It was great! It was very amusing, particularly when the singer got out a sort of manual loud-speaker.

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Almost at the end of the update.. well done if you’ve got this far…

Tessera Sanitaria (Health Card)

I’ve finally got health cover – the same as I would if I was an Italian citizen. I’ve so far been relying on being healthy and having no issues but I decided that approach was probably too optimistic long term. So I had to pay a very specific 387.34 euros in what was quite a faff going between “ASL” (the office where you get your Tessera) and the post office. I’ll still not believe I’ve actually managed to get one until I have it in my hand.

Sterilizing the cat!

I finally took the plunge and got Batfink neutered this week. He looks so sore, I’m feeling horribly guilty. But it was for the best. I think his raging hormones are responsible for a couple of missing kittens 😦  Here he is in all his pre-neutered glory when he still loved me.

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Poor little adorable Batfink

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And this is his “I can’t believe you’d do this to me, you traitor” look 😦

And finally!!!! MY OLIVE TREE HAS GROWN AN OLIVE! Three in fact. Isn’t it impressive?! Good little olive tree.

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Spot the olive! I did have high hopes for those other little balls but they don’t appear to be getting any more olive-like. Nevermind. Three is plenty to be getting on with. Perhaps I’ll make oil.

Ok, that’s enough excitement for this blog post. Apologies it’s been so long but you can rest assured that I’m up to date now!

Have good weeks!

x

 

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Summer Jamboree, festas and house update…

Ciao all!

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

So – 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’m thrilled to report that I made it! And it’s such a great event – 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’s 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!

 

Summer Jamboree

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 (“party”) called Castrum Sarnani in Sarnano. That ended up being a good evening too – 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 – 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 “fire guy” display (I’m not sure how else to describe him) – 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’ll 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 – in every other month other than July and August, it’s usually empty because it’s a very steep, long, dangerous and usually forbidden, walk down to it. However, because it’s 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 – 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’s 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’s an amphitheatre and a tower too (I think?) which we didn’t get to see because I was too cheap to buy a tour ticket. We must do that one day when I don’t feel like I’m 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’t find it (unless it consisted of a priest doing an outside mass), I’m so pleased we went. Sassotetto is a ski resort so it’s quite high up – 1624 metres and wow, what amazing views. It’s 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’s one of my favourite spots in Italy so far and you can even see Monte Conero from the top which is comforting! I’m pleased because I’d sort of developed my “favourite places” tour for visitors which was all around Camerano so now I’ve 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’s B&Q). I am not naturally a spender – I am a saver. If I do reluctantly spend, it’s 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’d deliver. In Italy, you seemingly have to take a week off work to wait patiently for them to arrive. Also, I don’t know how they’ll 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 – 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’ll 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’ve 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’ve now been turned into stunning plant pots. Visiting the garden centre proved to be rather amusing with our conversations go thusly “What’s this do you think?”…… “hmm, It’s definitely a plant”…….. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Shall we get it?”……… “Yeah”.    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’m 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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Epic Journey of Boringness, Heavenly Bathing Area of Delight and the Walk of Treachery…

Well this week I bring you the Epic Car Journey of Boringness, an Ice Pool of Death update and I shall recount the Walk of Treachery. First up…

Epic Car Journey of Boringness to Piacenza

Some of you may remember the Saga of the Broken Clutch where the car broke down in Switzerland on the way back from the UK to Ancona. It meant that we (myself and my driving buddy, let’s call him Victorio) couldn’t make use of the hotel that we’d booked and paid for in Piacenza.  They wouldn’t give us our money back but as Victorio was back in Italy last week, we decided to get our money’s worth. I was to meet him there.

There were two methods of arrival – car or train (having already ruled out going by helicopter or skateboard). I weighed up both taking into account cost, effort and time. I decided to go by car – it would be long but would work out cheaper and I’m on a money saving spree.

Was it in fact cheaper? No, no it wasn’t. It was a lot more expensive. STUPID TOLL ROADS! 48 Euros it cost me just in tolls! I had completely forgotten to add that into my equation so not only did I have an exceptionally boring 4 hour journey each way, but it cost me more than the train. There, er, may be a slight chance I may have incurred additional unforeseen costs as well (STUPID SPEED CAMERAS!). Anyway, the hotel was lovely – very nice. I recommend Best Western in Piacenza.

Piacenza itself is nice too. There wasn’t much too it from what we saw – there’s a little shopping high street with some nice shops, a market and a piazza where the cathedral was. We spent a couple of hours looking around and then I started the 4 hour trek back.

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The main shopping street… There’s lots of people with bikes with baskets on in Piacenza. Cute.

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View from the shopping street into the piazza where the market was…. they’ve got their christmas decs up 🙂

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The market – lots of crafty stuff there! Also cute…. The cathedral’s in the background.

Driving

Driving is MUCH better now – I don’t feel the urge to write home to tell my family I love them every time I get in the car now.  I can’t imagine that it’s because the Italians have all started to drive like sensible people. In fact, I know that not to be true. I think I’ve just developed a Near Death Experience Filter which helps to regulate my heartbeat when someone pulls out in front of me at speed.

4 hours is the longest time I’ve spent driving in one go by myself so that felt like quite a feat of accomplishment given I’ve been so nervous of driving for such a long time. I still haven’t managed to amend my Sat Nav’s “if at all possible, go on roads suitable only for tanks” setting.

Car tires

I’ve still not changed them to “winter tires”. Il Polemico showed me his snow tires the other day. They look unimpressive. The difference is they have “snow and mud” written on the side and there’s some tiny, barely visible little slits in the tires. I know I have to get them but it just doesn’t feel satisfying enough to warrant the money. Admittedly I may feel more satisfied if they stop be slipping down hills in the rain but I would have preferred if they had large spikes and perhaps were a different colour. I did ask my local garage about getting them changed and he pointed me in the direction of a local “gommista” who will change my tires for me. I will do that soon. I will. I will I will I will.

Heating

I HAVE HEAT!!!!!!!!  And the Ice Pool of Death (the bath) is now The Heavenly Bathing Area of Delight! I can’t put into words how happy I am about being able just to turn the tap on and have hot water. The problem? The boiler pressure was too low. I should have moaned about it before. It took about 20 minutes to sort out. Annoying.

Christmas

I received my first Christmas present 🙂 A doll, a “pigotta”. It’s a doll that’s handmade and the money used to buy it goes to poor kids in Africa. I was very touched! And I got some other bits and pieces too. People are so lovely here.

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This is Barbara the Pigotta

Senigallia

I went to a lovely cake shop in Senigallia with a friend last week. I think I have the name wrong so I wont write it here, and then we ate out at a very quaint restaurant which didn’t have a name outside either. Here’s a photo of it so if you’re ever in Senigallia and you want to go, you can pace the streets until you find it 🙂

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Mmmm cup of tea, piece of cake…. Mmmmmm

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Lovely nameless restaurant in Senigallia…

The Walk of Treachery

I had my most exhausting walk for quite a long time with Il Polemico last weekend. The original plan was to go walking in the Sibilini Mountains. Alas, there’s snow there now and apparently a guy died there recently of cold when he got stuck there overnight, poor man. I’ve just bought a book with walks around this area in so we picked another safer walk around the hills in Macerata. It was a ring walk from Cingoli. It started off well but there’s been a lot of bad weather in Macerata the last week or two and so we found ourselves climbing over several landslides…..

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Landslide…

Then the guide book seemed to indicate that we should walk up a waterfall/river.

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I would not recommend the route we took. There was no path, only a foot or less of space at one or other side and that kept falling into the river every time we set foot on it.

Having slipped are way to the top, we followed the route down the other side of the mountain where we got lost. Il Polemico has a problem with seeing “tracks” where there aren’t any…

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This was not a “track”. Thanks to Il Polemico for the photo.

And then it was getting late and the sun was getting lower, we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no way of getting back apart from the Waterfall of Danger. Then we heard hunters in the woods shooting wild boar. Wild boar are apparently dangerous and so need to be shot. Personally, I would prefer to take my chances with wild boar than people randomly shooting into the woods where I’m walking…

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No photos of wild boar I’m afraid but here’s a picture of some mud with a boar footprint. Ray Mears would be proud…

Anyway, we found where we were supposed to have been going and headed in that direction at a speedy pace. And then, unbelievable I know, we got lost again. And then we trespassed into a sort of water reservoir place…

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The reservoir (grazie al Polemico)

A man came to inquire about our trespassing (we didn’t look very apologetic). The man let us out (otherwise I think we’d have just stayed put at the reservoir!) and then we found a road and decided to stick to that given the hour and our propensity for getting lost. We ended up doing 10 miles in the end and apparently we gained “608 metres” according to Il Polemico’s magic walking tracking device.

Anyway, it was a  lovely, spectacular but stressful walk…

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Look at how pretty it is here!!!!

Ok, have good weeks everybody! 🙂

x

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Fun, embarrassment and appeal to train station designers…

Ciao!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Had a lovely lunch at this restaurant – great food…

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

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

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Jesi – the main square…

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

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Pescara train station – it was a fascinating evening out…

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

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

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

This week’s what’s a bit odd:

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

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

Ciao x

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The dolce vita, settling in and seeing the sites…

Ciao!

Allora (well!), I’m pleased to say I’m settling in nicely 🙂 So far, no regrets or doubts about whether I did the right thing – I’m pretty content! The view from my apartment is just amazing.

Camerano view from my apartment

View from my apartment

You can see at least three towns from the balcony off my kitchen but very difficult to see in the photo above (I need my decent camera which I had to leave at home!): Osimo (right), Castelfidardo (middle) and Loreto (left) and in the background the very majestic Siblini Mountains. They rise up to the cloud level here in the photo – again, my camera’s not good enough to pick it up. They’re difficult to see sometimes anyway because of La Foschia (a sort of summer haze) but it’s pretty breathtaking when you can.

Camerano is perched on the top of a hill – a lot of the Italian towns/villages are, around here. There’s a lovely paved area with a viewpoint – in a couple of weeks there’ll be chairs and tables out from the bar that’s close by so that’ll be nice to go to in the evenings. I’ve taken loads of pictures – I’m going to try and write up about each town I visit but it’s taking ages! Anyway, click here for the main Le Marche page and click on the links to the various towns for photo’s and in time, hopefully more!

It has a wood right at the top which has well kept gravel paths but it’s very small as you’d probably expect for the top of a hill. You wouldn’t really want to meet any axe murderers in there – there’s not really much scope to escape (see mother – I am baring my safety in mind :-)! Admittedly I acknowledged that, and went in anyway but still…Forewarned is forearmed).

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Wood at the top of the hill in Camerano

I hear there’s some market stalls selling fruit and veg in the morning most days but I’ve not actually been out before school yet so not seen them. I’ll do that next week I think. There’s a bigger market on Wednesday selling clothes. In the afternoons, all the old men in Camerano seem to hang around in gangs outside the shops. The women it turns out, are busy cooking dinner at home. I am not naturally suited to the male/female role division here and it’s probably one area of the Italian culture I’ve no intention of becoming suited to either!

Most evenings so far, I’ve had dinner back at the apartment whilst watching CSI USA dubbed in Italian and very handily available with Italian subtitles.

The people are nice. So far, I’ve met:

  • Marco and his wife Ursula, Cristina my teacher, Jeno a fellow (and only other) student in my class and Marta (who’s doing teacher training to become an Italian tutor herself). Marco I’ve talked about, he’s great, really like him. Cristina is very good – talks fast but really knows her stuff and explains thing well. I get the meaning of what she’s saying pretty much all the time but probably understand about half the words – hopefully I’ll get better! The entire lesson is in Italian – but it’s only for 2 – 2.5 hours a day. Jeno is Hungarian, retired, and is studying here for another 3 or 4 weeks (having been here already for 2). He’s incredibly, incredibly friendly. Over here, he lives in a place called Marchelli which is a part of Numana (still in Le Marche). It’s right on the coast. He invited me back to see his apartment earlier in the week and it’s great. He’s got a massive balcony overlooking a lovely sea view (I’ve got a sea view too– it’s just 5km away rather than 50m away ;-)) Marta is really nice – talks even faster than Cristina. She’s given me some advice on getting a job and websites to look at and she’s even offered to help me with a little notice for getting interest from people wanting to learn English.
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Marchelli

  • An old lady in the Tabbacheria. I bought a postcard, stamp and notebook – had to ask for it all as well as it was all behind the counter. She said my Italian was good – I like her ;-). That was until I tried to explain that I wanted nail varnish remover. My Italian is somewhat limited at the moment on beauty products so I went with the fall back mime option (which was impressive in its detail and complexity involving my toenails, pretend cotton wool and a pretend medium sized bottle of nail varnish remover). She tried to sell me some nail varnish remover wipes for 13 Euros. 13! Pah. And I thought she was my friend…
  • Some scary men in the Trattoria. The Trattoria is not particularly welcoming I have to say. The door is shut all the time and it’s difficult to tell whether it’s open or not. I’ve learnt that if I’m ever in doubt as to whether a shop/cafe is open or closed, it’s best to assume it’s closed.  I mean, I really do admire the Italian work ethic – one should work to live, not live to work. They’ve got that in the bag. But, I can’t help but think that when one wants lunch and the shop which sells lunch is closed at lunchtime and several hours either side, that there’s scope to introduce some minor improvements to suit the consumer like being open at lunchtime. Anyway, the Trattoria was full of old men at tables looking at us (I was with the other student) and we weren’t even sure who worked there or not. Nobody said anything. All conversation stopped. If I wasn’t with my fellow classmate who’d thankfully been there before, I suspect I would have backed out. There were no menus but the guy who eventually did come out and to give him credit, was reasonably friendly, gave us a choice of a couple of options (we had pomodoro basilica – basically tomato/basil pasta) which was very tasty indeed. Completely worth being intimidated for 🙂  And actually, once we’d sat down, the constant staring diminished to sporadic staring only so all worked out well in the end!!!
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Trattoria in Camerano – Stick with it, the food is worth it!

  • Nicole, she’s an estate agent and works in Numana. The other student got his apartment through her a week or two back and so he thought it would be good if I spoke to her if I wanted somewhere to stay longer term. But Numana is only busy in the summer and then quiet the rest of the year and she really only deals with holiday lets rather than people looking to stay in the longer term. She showed me an apartment but it was tiny really and for the double the amount I’m paying here – probably slightly nicer done out than my apartment here but I could look at the view from here all day whereas the view there was of someone’s garage.
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Taken from Numana towards Mount Conero

  • A couple of guys in a pizzeria in Numana – there were very friendly, particularly the owner and the pizza was fab.
  • The guy who serves ice cream in the gelateria in Camerano. I asked his advice on ice cream (honestly, as if I need advice on ice-cream…) and I think I got an extra scoop, whipped cream and a sort of waffley extra bit as a result. I’m going to do that again. In fact, my plan is as follows: go to the gelateria every other day, and in the other days (in order to avoid becoming a total giant), go to a cafe. I have selected my cafe, I’ve just not gone in there yet.
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Piazza Roma in Camerano taken from the Gelateria

  • Catherine, a very nice girl from New Zealand who teaches English and works in a hotel in Senigallia. She’s given me her contact details so I’ll definitely be getting in touch. She has a friend over here that comes from Portsmouth, not far from where I grew up so that might be a nice link too. She thinks, as does Marco, that mother tongue English speakers are in demand here as there just aren’t many of us in the area.
  • Another Marco and Simone. I had a very confusing conversation with the Original Marco who was describing his two friends and how they’d moved to London together but how they no longer saw each other anymore which was sad etc.but that they were going to come around for dinner (on the night I was too). I asked whether that might be awkward and he couldn’t comprehend why. We had a long conversation about it – as we do all the time because I have to go through an insanely long description of everything I don’t know/remember the name of (most things) e.g. “Do you have a long wooden rod that has something inside that I can use to write with on paper?”, rather than “Got a pencil?”.  Anyway, I think a good 15 minutes later, it turned out that Simone is a man and that they went to London as friends and so of course it wouldn’t be awkward! Anyway, Simone and Marco are both very friendly and might be some other people to hang out with potentially.

In terms of other stuff I’ve been doing – every week we get a programme of activities – this week we went to a town called Recanati and we had an authentic Italian cookery lesson (with Marco’s German wife :-)) followed by eating it with Marco’s family and friends at his house. Think this week we’ll be going to Mount Conero for a walk, potentially to see the “Two Sisters” – a couple of big rocks out in the water that’s inaccessible apart from what sounds like a rather perilous walk down some cliffs or by boat. I’m quite looking forward to that. I’d probably be looking forward to it a bit more if I had anything other than flip flops and a pair of gripless trainers.

Recanati is a very nice little town/village/paese with a lot of cultural things to do and museums etc. It’s set in some really lovely countryside – rolling green / golden hills, lots of pretty flowers, vineyards and olive groves. In terms of cultural stuff – despite making a concerted effort to pay attention for the purposes of being enlightening for the blog, I just can’t retain that kind of info so here are some photo’s instead and click on the link if you’re interested in anything else! There’s a museum sort of exhibition next on the 18th May where I think all/most of the museums in Le Marche are free. Much better than that, on the 25th/26th May, there’s some kind of Cantina Festival where you basically visit people’s cellars and drink the wine they’ve made. Sounds good – I’ll try and find out a bit more about it for the next blog.

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Yesterday, I went to Portonovo with the other student on the course. Portonovo is a gorgeous bay below some cliffs. Incredibly picturesque. We didn’t stay for long though – only because it’s a flat fee with parking and we were too stingy to pay for the full day (only 4,50 euros or something) and then we headed to Senigallia.

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From the beach in Portonovo

Senigallia is on the seaside – it’s got a 10km sandy beach which is lovely to walk

along. At the moment, it’s all pretty empty and shut, but I think it’ll become a lot busier next month. The Italians appear to take a mass holiday from work from June and go to the seaside for weeks/months at a time. They really do have a fabulous work/life balance!

But it means though that the towns get a bit run down during the winter months and in the summer months, it’s a bit too commercialised and family orientated for me. It’s made me realise that I’d much rather live somewhere in the hills/mountains with a view but close enough to go to the sea when I want.

Senigallia has a castle – it’s 2 Euros to wander around it and look at the exhibition. The exhibition is a bit sparse and the bits that were there are a bit hard going to read but it’s cheap and it’s nice to see out from the top so I’d recommend it.

In terms of other stuff I’ve been up to, I’ve got a little checklist of things to do every day: homework from class, Italian verb conjugation exercises (using the wonderful Italian Verb Trainer app on my phone), some Italian reading, some Italian writing (in the form of a diary), and then some kind of exercise every day and something creative every day. I’ve done neither of the last two but exercise is difficult here. Marco’s shown me a reasonably flattish bit of land where I can go “jogging” which I might attempt today. There’s a swimming pool quite close but I think it’ll be traumatic to get to at least the first time.  I’ve done nothing at all creative bar take my paper and pencils out with me everywhere I go and I’d hoped I’d be a bit more creative than that! Hoping to do some this week.

Just as an aside for things people might want to bring me over (!): Squash – you can’t buy it here (as in the juice concentrate you mix with water). You can just buy juice, which is obviously nice but expensive so I’ve been mixing it with water but I’m not entirely convinced by that concept. And multivitamins appear to be very expensive and surrounded in pig bone (gelatine). So in an ideal world, I would quite like squash and pigless multivitamins. And the washing up liquid has the consistency of water, not washing up liquid. Having said all that, I would much rather be without them but with grissini and Stuffer’s yogurt (not together mind). So all in all, Italy is coming out very much on top.

Anyway, seems a lot of information, sorry! I’ll aim to do smaller updates little and often rather than epics every now and then! 🙂

Buon giornata!

xxx

Been to any of the places mentioned? Got any hints and tips? Feedback below!

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