Posts Tagged With: sotto le stelle

Language Swaps, Water Park Therapy and After Eight drinks…

Ciao a tutti!

Had a great week this week, alas not remotely productive but fun 🙂

Last Sunday there was a party downstairs in the garden for the block of flats and I had a lovely night chatting to everyone. They have a party every year and everyone brings something along – I made biscuits which they were a bit intrigued by. It doesn’t fit in with the usual “biscotti”. People seemed to like them but I think they could have been improved had I actually had scales to measure the ingredients rather than guessing!

I’ve been working my way through the language swap ad responses. I’ve got a “pen-pal” thing going on with one now – we use Microsoft word to write to each other in our non-native language and then use the track changes to correct the other’s errors and then add another letter/note. That’s been working really well actually – having someone correct your writing helps with the speaking too.

I met up with another language swapper a couple of times this week – Matteo. Thursday he came over and cooked a delicious veggie carbonara (“prima piatti”), with re-fried beans (“contorno” – basically means sides/vegetables). I’d made a salad (another “contorno”) and a lemon mousse for desert (“dolce”). My lemon mousse was unusual. Firstly, I forgot to buy lemons. Not having lemons is a definite oversight when making lemon mousse. I improvised with mint syrup instead which turns out to be the nicest thing ever (see ‘What’s a bit weird’ at the end). And secondly, the recipe required whipped double cream which seems to be something that doesn’t exist in Italy. Instead, I selected the closest sounding thing having shaken every available cream container assessing “thickness” and realised when I got home I’d bought sour cream (“panna acido”). Sour cream is officially better in fajitas than dessert (who knew?). However, I think my creation was a rip-roaring success. Weird yes, but tasty! Having said that, I suspect Matteo thought it was just weird and weird.  Here’s Matteo in action (he even volunteered to be in the blog – nobody ever volunteers!).

Cooking in action...

Cooking in action…

I went to a water park called Aquafan on Friday with an Italian friend and his family. Apparently it’s the biggest in Europe (the park, not his family!). Lots of fun and incredibly interesting in terms if people watching and actually one of the most liberating places I’ve been to! Aquafan should be prescribed as a form of therapy. It emerges that I’m vain and lacking in body confidence: if I go to the beach, I’ve been working on the assumption that everyone on the beach looks around, takes note of my every lump, bump and blemish (I’m going to create an acronym – LBB) and feels a level of sickness as a result. But, at Aquafan it turns out a) everyone else has LBB’s, b) there are a lot of people that have more LBB’s than me and c) nobody cares – either about their own or other peoples! So, no more guilt inducing swimming costume wearing for me… So – feeling a bit unconfident? Find an Aquapark!!!

Aquafan...

Aquafan…

I went to another Sotto Le Stelle Cinema night in Camerano – W.E. – Edward e Wallis. Directed by Madonna and about the scandalous relationship between Edward III and his big love, a divorcee. This one was a difficult film to follow as it had two plots running through and I’m not sure I “got” all of it but it was a lovely evening again none the less. There’s only one more, next week, which is a shame. Meanwhile, there are a couple of classical concerts in the next couple of days which I’m hoping to get to.

I met up with my new artist friend in Ancona this week too with a view to going on mass (in two at least!) to the Azienda Entrata to sort out a Tessera Sanitaria for me and to see where her Codice Fiscale and Tessera Sanitaria have got to. They told us we’d come to the wrong place (despite it being the right place a week or two back!) so we did a bit of window shopping instead and visited an art shop where she’s now got some pictures on display. Very interesting – I’ve never had any art displayed publicly so it was an enlightening experience! We both got a free calendar out of it so all in all, it was a good visit.

I’ve also been over to Mezzavalle (The Beach of Naked Men) again with the American students but I can’t believe how busy it’s got – a couple of weeks ago it was positively empty apart from the sporadic naked man. This time, it was packed (with costume cladded people I should add). I definitely preferred it before (for the remote emptiness as opposed to the naked men of course).

Mum has been researching (thanks Mum) and has come to the conclusion that I should just buy healthcare insurance on the basis that she thinks becoming a resident is mandatory after 3 months (ah my 3 month “being in Italy” anniversary will be Tuesday!). So, I’m going to buy it. I’m too de-motivated with it to fight it any longer!

I had another “care package” from home arrive this week too with a delicious chocolate assortment – thank you Jo!!! 🙂 I’ve been disappointingly less controlled about rationing this lot!

Monday, I’m heading to the Summer Jamboree event in Senigallia. I usually get annoyed at music on websites – it’s a bit invasive eh? However, the music on this website has had me dancing around the kitchen. Italian swing music is fantastic! I’ve been trying to download the songs on the website but alas, I can’t find them to buy.

What’s a bit odd? Well, I’m getting quite fed up now of plain water. I WANT SQUASH!!! I decided to try the “sciroppo” (Syrup) which is an insanely sugary, unhealthy Italian version of “squash” which is incredibly expensive and comes in stupidly small sized bottles. I used to have orange squash or something along those lines but I followed a recommendation and went for mint and let me tell you, it’s great! And versatile too – if you have it with milk, well, it’s like drinking an After Eight. Mmm….

Camera 360

Mmmm

Right, that’s about it for this week. Hope you’re all well!

Ciao x

P.S. Has anyone seen this bug?! It’s about an inch long with a horrible nothingness waist and a massive backside and buzzes around in an aimlessly erratic fashion.  I really dislike them! WHAT ON EARTH IS IT?!?!?!

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Bug Watch – Has anyone seen this bug?

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Apartments, Cars and Traps…

Ciao a tutti!

Hope you’re all well – for those back in the UK I hear it’s been as sunny and hot there as it has been here! News this week:

I went to see the owners of the apartment I saw last week. After meeting the family, I decided I definitely wanted to move there – they’re lovely! And they seemed to like me too – they didn’t want me to go, offered me glasses of wine, showed me pictures of their various relatives that live in London, invited me to dinner etc. and said they hoped that I would become like part of their family. Lovely eh?! We discussed the nitty gritty: costs, how to check the gas etc., dates… and on the dates front they wanted me to talk to the school (who currently let out the apartment). I asked if that was a good idea – the school presumably taking a cut of rent and all. But they said I needed to just to confirm who was in the flat for when. The following day one of the family phoned to confirm the details again and told me to go to school to check dates. So to school I went. Meanwhile, I’d been imagining myself in the apartment and how lovely it would be to have my own space again. Can you guess what’s coming?

It’s all fallen through…  Apparently the family don’t want to let out the apartment on a long term basis.  Why wouldn’t they tell me that?! Why would they go through the hassle of inviting me to look around the apartment on the basis I wanted a long term let, then invite me to theirs to discuss the details, say lovely things about having me stay, phone me the following day to confirm everything is fine and tell me that I should go to the school to discuss dates but then get the school to tell me that they don’t want me there!

It’s exceedingly odd. A bit too odd. The school had an alternative suggestion ready to hand – I could stay in their own flat paying them rent all throughout the winter instead. Indeed.

On a less irksome note, there is an astounding amount of cool, free things do in Camerano at the moment. I’ve been very impressed for such a little village. Tuesday’s event was an open air cinema in one of the piazzas to watch “La Migliore Offerta” (or “The Best Offer” in English). I think it’s a great film – very good plot and nicely put together. But I must say, I’m a bit confused by how they’ve gone about releasing it. The Director is Italian (Giuseppe Tornatore – he did Cinema Paradiso too). It was set in Italy and filmed there (as well as Vienna and Prague) and it has only been released in Italy and other non-English speaking countries. But yet the actors are all English speaking (including Geoffrey Rush and Donald Sutherland). Even though the dubbing was well done, it’s not ideal is it?! If you’re Italian and directing a film that’s set in Italy, and will be released only in Italy and other foreign places, why not use Italian actors? If I was Italian, that would annoy me.

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“Sotto le stelle” (“under the stars”) open air cinema event in Camerano – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so was a brilliant night for star gazing and even spotted a shooting star towards the end of the night.

I had my first Italian lesson for ages last week too which went well. I told him I feared that I might have some kind of grave learning disability preventing me from becoming even partially fluent in Italian. He didn’t seem to think I did. For my homework, I’ve been writing a diary in Italian – it’s sometimes easier to use my smartphone because it’s got a dual language spell checker and you can easily find the accented letters that you need. But I’ve found a reasonable solution using the laptop that involves an Italian online word processor with easy access to the various letters/accents and then you can copy and paste it into another tool for Italian spell checking. Long-winded by works.

Let me tell you about this week’s bureaucracy quest. First off: Car. I went to a car garage and asked them what they needed for me to buy a car. They need a carta di residenza or proof of domicilio. I’m still annoyed about paying for private healthcare insurance for the carta di residenza and I still don’t know what the impact would be in paying taxes in the UK if I did that so this domicilio business seemed easier. So, along I went to the Comune and asked them if I could get one of those things. They said proof of domicilio was an abstract notion that didn’t exist. So back to square one. I’ve since been looking at buying a car in the UK and driving it over – I can get it insured, with breakdown cover for a year and can pay UK tax. After that I think I’ll need to come back to the UK and get it MOT’d etc. After 3 years, I think I have to get it registered in Italy but that process seems to make people suicidal so I’ll probably dump it after 3 years and by then, perhaps I’ll have worked out how to buy another here.

In other frustrating bureaucratic news, I went to the bank to open up an account – it costs 6 euros a month! Apparently everyone pays that, it’s not punishment for being foreign. I’m peeved about paying for the account so I’ve not set one up. It might just be cheaper to pay the cashpoint fee’s. I’ll have a think.

The last bit of bureaucracy was Thursday. I went to the Questura (seems to be a branch of the Police) in Ancona to attempt to register my presence here in Italy again for the umpteenth time. They’re not interested because I’m European (despite the wealth of official police type documents from their own websites that say that I need to regardless). So that’s fine, as long as if it eventually does catch up with me, all of these organisations I’ve been to don’t turn around and say that I should have done x, y and z and why didn’t I let them know! On the way back, someone pointed me to the wrong bus stop so I missed my bus, and subsequently missed the school trip this week which was annoying. I spontaneously decided to do my own trip instead and took the train to Fabriano…

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Not the most interesting picture. I’ve merely added it as proof for a later date that I was here and at least tried to tell them I was here!

Fabriano is in a valley further to the north of where I am in Camerano. The train journey is spectacular – lots of mountains (or if not rocky looking hills) on either side of the tracks and it was less than 6 Euros for the ticket for over an hour journey. I’m very impressed with the cheapness of train travel here. I’d heard Fabriano is a nice place to look around and is famous for paper-making. I thought I could buy some art materials there so I got off the train all excited about my own little school trip. But see this sign below? It’s a trap.

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TRAP!!! Don’t believe it. The centre is the OPPOSITE direction. It takes 5 minutes. If you go the way it suggests, you’ll end up in Sicily.

Lesson learnt: Don’t be scared to ask the gangs of scary old men loitering around street corners staring at passersby in an unwelcoming fashion for directions. It could save you hours of time and sore feet. And I’m beginning to know some of the individual scary old men in these swarms, and they’re actually very nice.

When I eventually made it to the centre hours later, I was so peeved, tired and hungry and all the shops were shut that I sat in a bar, had a coffee and then headed back to the railway station again (actually takes 15 minutes if you don’t follow the Trap), senza art materials. I might give Fabriano another go at some point. Looks quite pretty – here’s a picture:

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Fabriano

Also went for aperitivo in Ancona and headed to the cinema to watch “The Lone Ranger” with Johnny Depp (not WITH Johnny Depp you understand. He was busy that day). They could easily have reduced that film by half.

Every week there’s usually a walk somewhere with the school. This week’s was around Camerano. The sunflowers are out so everything is looking very pretty at the moment…

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I Girasoli – The Sunflowers

Next week I’ll be in the Sibillini Mountains for a bit with a friend. I’ve booked a B&B through Airbnb – Airbnb is a bit frustrating. The first place was booked out (it hadn’t said on the website), the second place wanted double the price that was advertised on Airbnb and seemed insulted that I even thought it could be so low, and the third place was finally a go-er so I shall hopefully report back on some places to visit down there next week. So in summary, the website is frustrating but the prices are really very good. Much cheaper than other B&B booking websites.

What’s a bit odd… This week’s feature – cemeteries!  This might sound morbid but they’re actually nice places to wander around! Bodies aren’t generally buried here in Italy, they’re kept in drawers. Albeit large stone un-penetrable drawers. Given a choice of rotting in dank dark coldness 6 feet under and being put in a drawer, I’d go for being put in a drawer every time (to be honest, I’m banking on there being some medical breakthroughs soon that mean I can stay alive for eternity). It’s much clearer to see people’s names etc, they aren’t worn away like in our graveyards. There are fake flowers next to all of the drawers (seems odd calling them drawers but they’re not really “graves” either) and a little electric lamp on all the time making the whole place really pretty (and surely expensive to run) rather than depressing. And there’s often a photo of the person as well which is nice to see. In fact, I think the experience could only be improved if they gave a brief account of how the person died next to each one to satisfy my curiosity!

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Camerano’s cemetary

You pay once for the tomb and that’s it. However, if you’ve bought a family “tomb”, then once you’re full up, you can elect to either pay for a new tomb or you can move the family members you don’t much like and that have been dead for ages to a communal bone store which is a big stone tomb filled with other old bones. Initially it seemed a little unceremonious but I’ve since decided that after years of rotting in my own drawer, I think I’d be craving the company of other people’s bones (ooo we could play pick-up-sticks).

Marco was telling us how he used to play around in the cemetery when he was a kid – jumping from tomb to tomb. One of his mates fell in the communal bone store. I don’t know how you’d get over that. I would probably die on the spot if that happened to me (convenient!).

Blog Spot: I’ve decided to introduce a blog spot! This week’s interesting blog is from someone that’s moved over from Texas to Ancona and doing a similar thing as me: http://elefantini.wordpress.com Have a look!

Right, onwards and upwards… Have a lovely week all.

xxx

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