Posts Tagged With: Tessera Sanitaria

Snow shoes, navigating the Italian health system and kitties

Buongiorno!

How is everyone? Well what a few weeks!

2017 hasn’t got off to the glowing start I had hoped! We have had unbelievable amounts of snow blocking people in their houses for up to two weeks, often without electricity. If that wasn’t bad enough, there were four strong quakes and where can you go when the roads are all closed and your car is buried under a couple of meters of snow?! And then the heartbreaking avalanche that buried Hotel Rigopiano killing 29 people, and a helicopter that was attempting to rescue a mountain climber crashed killing everyone on board. Central Italy just can’t get a break at the moment.

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My neighbour took his photo of our poor abandoned house in Sarnano when she eventually managed to get through the snow to reach it!

Thankfully the snow on the particular ridge and valley where I am temporarily living was only a foot deep and the snowplow came and dug us out that night even up the drive – but the ridges and valleys on either side of us had over a meter of snow and lots of power issues. The damage from the earthquakes this time seems to be minimal (surprising given the additional stress on the houses that the snow added) but the damage from the snow itself has been quite widespread mainly in terms of damaging barns and there doesn’t seem to be a tree in Le Marche that has been left unscathed!

Meanwhile, I’ve been suffering with awful headaches every night (any of my readers suffer from cluster headaches?) so it’s been an interesting week testing out the Italian health system.

Unfortunately if you don’t have a ‘proper’ job and you’re not registered as unemployed, you have to pay about 380 euros for a “tessera sanitaria” (a health card) to be able to access Italy’s national health service. Although if it’s an emergency they’ll see you anyway. You pay for a calendar year, running from January to December, regardless if you’ve paid the full amount in November the previous year. I had a very exasperating visit to ASUR (Azienda Sanitaria Unica Regionale), the administration side the health service to try and get my card renewed. Frustratingly the office workers didn’t seem to know they were responsible for providing this service. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I can confirm if you burst into tears of frustration, stuff gets done! When it seemed I would leave with nothing, I left with a health card, free drugs and an appointment with the neurologist 5 days later.

On a slightly related note, purchasing medicine in Italy is odd: prescription-only drugs in the UK can be purchased over the counter in Italy (albeit at an eye-watering price, unless they’re antibiotics in which case they’re really cheap and freely available!), and basic painkillers which cost a pittance in the UK cost a lot here. If the UK and Italy teamed up, I think we’d have quite a good health service and drug provision.

Meanwhile, it hasn’t all been bad. I went  for an organised ‘Ciaspolata’ (snow shoe walk) with a group called Con in faccia un po’ di Sole at the weekend in Bolognola (in the Sibillini’s). It was an absolutely stunning day for the walk and though I’ve walked in those mountains quite a bit now, it’s totally different when everything is so snowy! The guide was excellent too and was able to identify which animals had made the various tracks in the snow.

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This photo taken by our guides was our Ciaspolata group – a colourful lot!

In other good news, I have two kittens staying with me at the moment! Batfink has been distinctly unimpressed but yesterday marked a breakthrough – I came in to find them all in a tangled cuddly heap. Those who have followed this blog know that I don’t have much luck with kittens and cats – they pretty much all get run over, poisoned or die of flu. So in order to keep my expectations in check, I’ve dubbed the kittens Doomed and Fated. In fact, to illustrate my point, they did have a sweet little sister. I’ve retrospectively called her Mauled. You’ll never guess what happened to her 😦

This year, I decided I was going to try and become a ‘professional’ artist. I thought the easiest and most pleasant way to do this would be to get portrait commissions as I really like painting them. I have about 4 commissions and each one is driving me insane! I think a less stressful strategy  is to just paint stuff, and then if people like it they can buy it. So that shall be the plan going forward! Still, I bought some mounts in nice cellophane wrapping – it’s amazing how that kind of things gives everything a much more professional feel. Check out the latest pics here.

I think that’s about it from me. I hope you’re all having a good week.

A presto,

x

 

 

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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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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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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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The Grand Exhibition Plan, The Never-ending Cold and Top Tips for Dealing with Children

Ciao a tutti!

Buongiorno all. I hope you’re all good. In this week’s gripping update, I bring you The Grand Exhibition Plan, The Never-ending Cold and Tips for Dealing with Children’s Requests…

The Grand Exhibition Plan

This week, I have mostly been doing art, art and more art! The potential exhibition draws ever closer.  If this contract for the exhibition studio materialises then I’ve decided to give it a go. You only live once. It’ll cost €300 for 6 months but I think it’ll be open only for 3 months during summer giving me 3 months to try and at least make my money back. Quite a good little challenge really! I feel a bit like the Del Boy of the art world. My plan is as follows:

–          Exhibition Plan Part Uno – Paintings: Have a sort of “nautical” theme to my exhibition pieces. Specifically:

  • 10 paintings, primarily seascapes given that we’re by the coast here and a significant portion of the Italians seem to be obsessed with the beach and have beach houses… I’ll aim to sell them for €100 each.  To be honest, I imagine I’ll only have space for about 4 or 5 – if that, but obviously they’ll be selling like hot cakes so er…, good to have back up.  I started a painting last week – I shall finish it and post it here next week!

–          Exhibition Plan Part Due – Driftwood, Shell & Stone art:

  • 10 driftwood sculptures / pieces.
  • Stone painting (I know. It does sound odd. However, it looks like quite a quick, fun and relaxing thing to do when I’ve got a bit of time!).
  • Stuff with shells!
  • If I’m any good, take some photos of the above and get some prints made (thank you to my friend who suggested that one).
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Experimenting with shells!

–          Exhibition Plan Part Tre – Portraits: I want to use part of the exhibition space for drawing portraits. I hope it will be a good way of getting people into the exhibition so they might look around and stay in there and hopefully buy other stuff.  I’ll aim to sell a portrait for €20 each.  Specifically:

  • Get 5 or 6 really good “demonstration” portraits of famous people done in different mediums.
  • Practice, practice, practice – try and do some portrait work every day.
  • This week’s attempts below excluding one truly horrible self portrait. Let’s play “guess the person?” – submit guesses in the comments below! Free portrait for anyone that gets them all. The two men are Italian actors so folks back home, I suspect you won’t stand a chance anyway!
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Numero Uno

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Numero due. The UK people might know her…

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Numero Tre. Horrible portrait I think. Annoying because he’s quite handsome! I’ll have another go I think.

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I’ll exclude this one from the guesses – it’s a friend’s little boy!

–       Exhibition Plan Part Quattro:  Get an art website set up.

–        Exhibition Plan Part Cinque:  Get business cards printed (if not for the art, at least I can give them out to people that keep asking about English teaching!)

Selling a couple of paintings and a handful of portraits doesn’t sound that daunting eh? I wonder if I can do it?!

Other art related news

I’ve finally worked out what to do with Pinterest after having an account for a year. (For those that don’t know, Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website). I used to trawl the net copying and pasting images into a document to use for inspiration at a later date but Pinterest is MUCH more convenient! Alas, I hadn’t amended my settings so my poor friends have been receiving what must now be hundreds of Driftwood and Stone inspiration “pins”! If you’re interested in looking at the kinds of things I’m looking at doing for the exhibition, then I suspect you can “follow” me (on Pinterest. Not literally!). Having said that, I’m still learning and haven’t worked out entirely how you would go about that but please feel free to give it a go!

I found an equivalent to B&Q! It’s called OBI. I am THRILLED. I spent ages in there this week and even better, it has ART STUFF! Woohoo! It’s the first place I’ve seen around here with canvasses and paint. Admittedly expensive canvasses and a shocking selection of paint but still, it’s a relief to know that it exists!

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OBI – Proof art supplies in Italy do actually exist

Work and The Never-Ending Cold.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of work for my language school on their website this week. My task was to just check it through to make sure the English makes sense but there is a LOT of information on it. It’s been quite fun really.  It’s paid for half my rent this month so that’s not bad going.

I have yet another cold, possibly my 89th in 6 months. I think the schools I teach at are breeding grounds for this stuff and I just haven’t built up a resiliency yet.  When my voice actually gets back to normal, people will wonder what on earth has happened – most people who know me here have only known me with a husky voice. However, I’m determined to not let it get to me and went out for a nice meal last night at a very cool restaurant in Ancona – Mangiare, Bere, Uomo, Donna.

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Mangiare, Bere, Uomo, Donna – not great for vegetarians but quite a variety of different types of food.

Return to Bureaucracy – The Case of the Tessera Sanitaria

Well, as anticipated, I did not succeed in getting a Tessera Sanitaria, the Italian health card which seems to be the equivalent of an E111 in the UK. I’ve spoken to the woman there 4 times over the months to try and get this card. It was quite a good mark of “progress” given I can vaguely understand her now whereas before she could have been speaking Chinese! Anyway, I needed to have a contract with the school to show that I’m earning and then she assures me I can get the card.  I emailed the school knowing full well there would be no chance they’d send me a contract and within an hour, they sent me a contract! Just like that! Amazing! (It’s a shame they’ve not been quite so efficient with my salary.)

Next week I’m going to Rome for a long weekend which I’m looking forward to – €18 return for what will be 7 hours of train travel. What excellent value! I think it might be cheaper than renting a house. I’m considering just living on the train.

What’s a bit odd?

Fellow elementary / junior school teachers: Is it normal for children to obsessively ask whether they can use felt-tip pens to colour stuff in?!?! Every single child will run up to me (despite my constant instructions for them to stay in their seats) and ask/shout at me about using “colori a spirito”. Sometimes I’ll be standing up at the front talking to the class and a child will come up and pull on my jumper until I stop, thinking it must be a  life or death situation, and then they ask me if it’s OK if they use a blue pen to write with.  I’ve been trying to find a satisfying way of saying “I really don’t care” in Italian but there’s nothing (not that I can use with children at least). There’s only the equivalent of “it’s not important” or “I’m not interested”. I really miss “I don’t care”. I have to make do with supplementing “it’s not important” with a mocking laugh and hand gestures!

I really miss “I can’t be bothered” as well!!!  There are lots of discussion forums on that one on the Italian Word Reference site and nothing seems to be very satisfying. If anyone knows how I can say that, I’ll be eternally grateful!

Ok, have lovely weekends and tune in next week for more info.

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How to: Prepare for an Art Exhibition, make a voodoo doll out of driftwood and avoid cheek stroking

Ciao a tutti,

This week I bring to you the nail-biting tale of an artist with no art, how to make a voodoo doll out of driftwood and where to stock up on products for all your bimbo needs…

The Artless Dodger

I have done something stupid(er than usual). I have ALMOST signed up to showing my work in an “exhibition” just off Piazza Roma in Camerano’s centre. My work. What am I talking about?! I have no work! Not here at least. Scattered around Portsmouth and London, yes.  My next door neighbour is organising the exhibition – for 6 months it’ll cost 1200 Euros to hire the place. He wants to split the cost. Ha! I have only ever sold one thing! Why oh why didn’t I do some artwork last year?! This week’s blog feedback request is face-saving methods of backing out of exhibitions… A free driftwood voodoo doll to the person with the best suggestion (see below).

Anyway, Operation Produce Some Art is in full swing and is commencing with a beach scene. If it’s any good, I’ll post a picture next week. I have also become quite enamored with driftwood of late during my walks on the beach. I have quite a collection now.

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Pretty….

I just haven’t quite got around to working out what to do with it yet! The good news is that I found some wood carving tools in my collection of art stuff today so I thought I’d give that a go. The bad news is, it’s coincided with me being in a bit of a negative mood all week…

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I’ve called him “Bob” (he floats).  I’m going to take him into school and tell the children that he’ll put a curse on them if they’re annoying 🙂

Teaching

I have a new private student starting next week and potentially some more lined up. I got in touch with the poor girl that used to teach English last year at my schools today. She managed two years. Two years! She should get a medal. She MISSES them she says! Having said that, I have now received two Frrero Rocher’s from cutie students and several pictures (I should probably have stored them somewhere other than the recycle bin to be kept as evidence that I’m an adorable and caring teacher).

English Language Consultancy

I’m actually doing some paid work for my language school (the one I went to for Italian lessons) – working on their new website. It’s quite fun! All being well, there should be a lot more students at the school this year so hopefully it’ll be a bit livelier! One of the students (“The Cheek Stroker”) from last year is returning for a few weeks soon. I will have to keep all my cheeks under close guard. Perhaps I can use Bob the Voodoo Doll again.

Swimming Attempt 2

Swimming Attempt 1 took place back in November last year. I went to a local pool that was deserted apart from creepy staring men so I didn’t even make it near the pool. Besides, it looked nasty. People were changing in the reception area.

Swimming Attempt 2 took place on Wednesday with a different pool in mind. However, I forgot where I was! I had planned to check the website, get the address and put it into my Sat Nav. You can’t do that in Italy!!!  The website is nice – it has nice pictures, a nice logo, it’s colourful – someone went to a lot of effort to put it together but alas, there is no information about where it can be found besides “Loreto”. The office address on there doesn’t actually exist on the Sat Nav or Google Maps. TYPICAL!!!! So, after turning up to a large house in the middle of nowhere and driving around for half an hour, I gave up and went home! I’m going to have to get my swimming fix in the summer!

University Popolare!

For a couple of months I’ve been hearing about a university that you can go to for evening courses etc. I like a good evening course. However, it’s been nigh impossible to find any information about it. The most I could get out of anyone was “yes, I’ve heard about that too”. However, I mentioned it my mother, the Queen of Research, and a mere couple of days later, voila, a website! With INFORMATION no less! The courses seem to start in September so I think I’ve missed the boat but to be honest, Operation Produce Some Art should probably take precedence for a while anyway.

What’s a bit odd?

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For all your bimbo needs…

It’s right next to Ancona’s “sexy shop” as well. The shop is not sexy (I’m sure it breaches some kind of trade descriptions act).

Next week I shall be attempting to do some bureaucracy! I know, I know… you’ve missed my stories about italian bureaucracy. I aim to please. Tune in next week for what I predict will be “The Unsuccessful Quest for a Tessera Sanitaria! (health insurance card)”

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Amazing Mountains, Scary Earthquakes and er, Hot Heatwaves…

Ciao!

How is everyone? Good I hope.

Firstly, some good news! I’ve been listed on the Ex-Pat blog site, click here to check it out.  If you like the blog and have a spare minute, it would be great if you could write a quick review and vote!

I’ve been updating bits of the blog this week too:

Last week, I felt a bit like I’d lost my way a bit –  the flat that I liked had fallen through, I was getting nowhere with acquiring a car, I was irked about the language…But I’ve been planning! I’ve devised a new plan of action for the next few months and so I’m feeling a lot more invigorated. I use the term “plan of action” loosely because it’s Italy and it’s impossible to do anything by way of “action” but I have a direction at least 🙂 The summary is: Stay in the current flat, buy a car in the UK and bring it out, really try and get the Italian at a better level, meet more people, teach English and paint and draw. I’ve been making some headway with that already this week…

I met up with Simba, a budding artist (that makes it sound like I’m in her league, I’m not!) with a blog that’s moved to Ancona from the States and had a fab night venting about how nuts things are here but also about how we wouldn’t want to leave. I’m stupidly pleased that she’s not managed to get much of anything done either, despite repeated attempts 🙂 However, she’s managed to get (request at least!) the mythical La Tessera Sanitaria card – if I got this, it might mean I don’t need to get private health insurance to become a resident – I’m going to attempt to get mine ordered this week. It was good to share some hints and tips too – she’s pointed me to the Wordreference App for smartphones – it’s great not just as a English/Italian dictionary (and other languages too), but gives you example phrases and a description of verb tenses and links to forums where whatever you’ve entered has been discussed. Very handy.

I’ve also registered on the Couchsurfing website – it’s fab, seems to be a great little community of people all over the world willing to share their sofa’s with random people (when I say share, I don’t mean that you cuddle up on the same sofa. Or at least, I don’t think that’s what happens). I put a post up seeing if anyone wanted to do a language swap – my English for their Italian and I’ve got enough language swap offers now to keep me occupied every day for the next few years so that’s good! They do some events every now and then so I’m looking forward to that too.

There’s lots of good things going on in Camerano at the moment for the next month or so. Last weekend I went to  a Lucio Dalla tribute act. The warm up act were the best – the lead singer was Scottish (I think) and played mostly English songs but that’s not why I liked it so much, I liked it for the guy on the keyboard who spent the entire night dancing hilariously with his sunglasses on. Fun night and a great atmosphere!

Last Sunday we had another earthquake but this was a scary one that made the Italian national news! This one was 4.9 on the Richter Scale which is just within the bounds of “light” apparently but let me tell you, it didn’t feel light! Last month’s was 3.8. Apparently a full number increase signifies the earthquake is about 30 times stronger.  And then there were aftershocks, meanwhile, the rest of the night was consumed by an almighty thunderstorm… Not the best night!

I’ve had a friend over from the UK this week and we booked a B&B in the Majella National Park. We stayed in a place near to Roccamorice which turned out to be quite a good central location. Alas the B&B was a bit grubby, though it did have cutie cats…

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There are genuinely cute pictures of these cats but this one makes me laugh…

We did some walking – starting point was a town called Decontra (there are two within half an hour – go to the one that is closer to Caramanico Terme!), and went on a very picturesque easy going walk. There are a few good websites which give you an idea of walks you can do; this one’s my favourite: http://www.walkingworld.com/home/index.asp?nid=503&id=45

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From the walk…

I’m so impressed with the area – I’ve never seen half the insects and flowers that we came across. Apparently there are bears, wolves and golden eagles here…

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Pretty unusual looking flower!

I recommend heading up to a place called “Blockhaus” – it’s the top of one of the mountains and the drive is spectacular. It looks a bit industrial in places at the top – it’s got various antennas and whatnot but I don’t think it takes away from the scenery, just adds another perspective. In the winter it’s set up for skiing. It made me yearn to go snowboarding again – it’s only 2 hours drive away! I’ve posted some more photo’s up on a separate page, here.

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View from Blokhaus…

What’s a bit odd? This week –aperitivo! I might have covered this before but I think it warrants at least another one. If you go on a pub crawl here, two things will happen: 1) You’ll become fat and 2) you’ll never, EVER get drunk. Or even merry. The papers here are devoid of articles denouncing the youth of today for binge-drinking. And this is because for every glass of wine, you get either a full on dinner free of charge if you go to a decent bar, or if you’ve picked a shoddy bar, then an array of crisps, nuts and pretzels. It’s good, I like it. It’s sensible and fabulous value, but sometimes I do miss the concept of just going to a pub and having a few drinks without feeling like if you stumble on the way to the toilet, people will judge you (rather than laugh).

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Simba and just one of our aperitivos!

The last couple of days have been positively roasting and it’s due to get even hotter – 40 degrees in some of the cities. I might just fill up the bath with cold water and stay there this next week. HOT!

Right, onwards and upwards – have good weeks all!

xxx

P.S. I feel bad putting up an ugly picture of the cats – here’s a cuter one to offset…

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Cuties…

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