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We’ll be coming round the mountain…..

August 23, 2009

As you may be aware, we returned from our summer holidays in rural Italy yesterday where we had the most wonderful time.  The fact that it went so swimmingly was down to several reasons, which include the wonderful location, the apartment at L’Oliveto, the olive trees outside our front door, the pool, our wonderful hosts and all of the lovely people they introduced us to, the weather, the food and last but not least, the animals. By animals, I mean the four-footed furry ones, of which there were five, and not the smaller, multi-legged variety, of which there were many, this being the countryside.

The variety of wildlife, rather than the domestic pets, was huge.  It included a chubby scorpion found in the pool…


…as well as the skinnier one found loitering in our bedroom, lizards, beetles, giant millipedes, enormous crickets, monster spiders (don’t like those) and voracious mosquitos that left me with two burning bands of bites, one around each ankle, that constantly seemed to be crackling and fizzing, calling out to my twitching fingers to be scratched raw.  One night I slept with wet tea towels tied around each ankle with shoe laces.  Husband told me I looked like something out of Fame.  (I hope he meant the one in the video with that amazing body and the ability to fly!!)


Here’s a post I started, most unsociably, at lunch in a restaurant in Sanano:

Just finished a plate of local rabbit with sage.  Oh my – culinary heaven!  Strangely enough Ten had a pizza one night that actually had chips as a topping.  I’m no local historian but I’m sure that’s not traditional.  In this restaurant there is a table by the door piled high with small photo albums.  We had a look at a couple of them.  They depict the far-flung travels of an anonymous photographer .  The books I looked at took me round Chile, Argentina and Cambodia.  Armadillos, whales, glaciers, icebergs, people wrapped in colourful blankets and women with stacks of rings around their extended necks float past my face.  A thimble of espresso is placed in front of me on the table.  Turn the page.  Photo’s of the genocide museum in Phnom Penh suddenly bring me thudding out of my reverie and back to the real world.

There’s a giant professional fridge from the 70’s in this restaurant.  It has yellow Formica facings and the glass fronts display the mouthwatering cuts of red meat available on the menu.  We are the only people to eat in the trattoria this lunch time.  I hope more come tonight and tomorrow so that lovely food does not go to waste.

Now it’s off to the gelateria with its dazzling display of ice cream in every hue and flavour imaginable.  Coni picoli all round with fragola, limone and stratiacella before heading onwards and upwards through the mountains towards the Sibillini National Park.  As we climb ever higher the temperature drops.  We pass through Stinco, the name of which causes a momentary lapse into infantile hilarity and on through another less memorably named village until we reach an altitude of 1600m .  The views are breathtaking but due to wiggly road sickness I am driving, so daren’t look for too long in case we plop off the edge.  From 32° C in Sanano, we are now at the relatively cool temperature of 24°.  Very comfortable, thank you.

As we cross the flat plain of Acquacanina, we pass a clanking herd of goats, their bells announcing them from afar, and their concomitant goat herd asleep in the grass wearing a day-glo orange waistcoat of the sort usually seen on men at work on the roads.  We are overtaken on an uphill blind hairpin bend by an octogenarian in a bright red Alfa Romeo Spider, roof down,  and similarly aged female companion, her hair blowing about her face, both laughing and chatting as they pass.  I’m struck by the irony of the situation as they must be approaching twice my age and yet I’m the one creeping cautiously around the corners, feeling sick and needing a a pee, whilst they whistle past, carefree and seeming to love being thrown around the bends.

After half a day of sweltering heat, spent in the car and in the lunchtime restaurant before another drive up the mountain, we arrive at our final destination, the beautiful and glittering Lago di Fiastra.  We park and tumble out of the car, towels at the ready , with half a wary eye on the biggest, blackest approaching cloud you ever saw.  We manage to dip our toes in the lake before the wind suddenly whips up and the lightening starts.  Back to the car we trot to sit out the storm.

Lago di Fiastra

‘It’ll be over in 10 minutes,’ I predict.

Suddenly there was a loud crack on the windscreen.

‘What was that?’ I asked Husband.

‘Umm.. I think it was a lump of ice,’ he replied without moving his lips.

‘No!’ I responded in disbelief. ‘Surely it was a stone thrown up by the car in front pulling away.  Idiot.

Crack.  Another one. And then another and another.  Rocks the size of gobstoppers were being hurled out of the sky onto our little rental car.

Scream of terror from the back seat.

‘It’s going to break the windscreen and dent the car all over.’  Thirteen voiced my precise thoughts.

‘We’re all going to die,’ shrieked Ten.

Needless to say, we survived unscathed to tell the tale, as did the car and we drove off once the lightening bolts had stopped to shelter under a tree.  That’s where I wrote the second part of this post whilst we waited for the VERY LOUD storm to subside.  (Have you seen the kids’ film ‘Bedtime Stories‘ with Adam Sandler, Russell Brand & Courtney Cox?  It rains rainbow bubble gum balls at one point but somehow, although reminiscent of our experience,  they’re not as scary as solid chunks of ice with jagged edges….)

Later, when the rain that followed the ice had subsided to a mild spit, we parents decided that seeing as we had driven all this way to swim in the lake then swim in it we jolly well would, regardless of the conditions.  Once in our togs, Ten asked:

‘Are you really going in?’  When we answered in the affirmative, they both said:

‘Well if you are, then so are we.’

Thus, to the wide-eyed amazement of the locals, we jumped into the lake, which was gloriously warm and beautifully clear.  Italians who had parked up to shelter from the rain actually got out of their cars to come and have a look at the crazy foreigners.   We swam, we saw jumping fish and we played ducks and drakes before we clambered back into the car and headed home.

Just 1 of 14 fabulous days!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2009 8:13 am


    You are entirely welcome to use the photo 🙂

    Glad that you had such a wonderful time in Italy. We love it so there much we are planning to downshift (let us not use the “retire” word) there in about four years. We have a home out there that will be our residence for half the year.



    • purplejake permalink*
      August 24, 2009 8:04 pm

      Thank you, Mark for the use of your piccy.
      ‘Downshifting’ in four years doesn’t sound so far away. Have you learnt the lingo yet so that you can integrate? The tulli looks wonderful – is that where you’ll be living for 6 months of the year? I’m really not jealous at all……

    • purplejake permalink*
      August 25, 2009 9:58 pm

      Now that our holiday pix are uploaded, I have selected one of our own scorpion (the chubby one from the pool) so have removed your bug photo, Mark.
      Thanks again for letting me use it.

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