Thursday, May 27, 2010

Under the Ascoli and Offida Sun!

Hey all, sorry but the previous day's blog did not post on time, so if you really want to be "on top" of it all, you need to read, "I've Arrived" before reading this one!

Today (Wednesday), in it’s entirety, was a lovely day. It started with an early rise and out the door by 9am (my lesson starts at 11:00am) as I was anxious to get to the market. Every Wednesday there is a farmer’s market and a retail market. Today, I had my sights set on a very blue leather purse that I had seen last week but hesitated to purchase. There was a little voice on my shoulder SHOUTING, “why do you need another purse!!!”....fortunately, during the week, that voice was replaced with a more tender voice suggesting, “you’re in Italy, buy the blue purse as you’ll regret it; I just know you will…you would never buy a blue purse at home!here's your chance”. So, today, in honor of the tender voice, my mission was to find the “purse stall” (among many, many stalls) with the hope that the blue purse was still findable amongst the thousands displayed. I knew I was in trouble when the saleswoman (who, by the way, was really beautiful) immediately recognized me from last week (see, it’s not hard to remember the only single, female, flat-wearing shoed American in this town). She reminded me of the “good price” and then gave me space to roam. I spotted the blue purse and immediately my passion was re-ignited. I had to own it. It was marked as 29 euros and I bought it for 20 euros. I’ll be curious at how often I have the balls to wear this purse as it is really, really, really, really blue!

Now that my mission was successful, I still had a good hour before my lesson and so I bounced off to a new café for a coffee. I chose one in the main piaza and settled in quite well, scanning the local newspaper as if I was actually reading and absorbing the news. Sometimes I could get the gist of the article but mostly not.

A little backtracking here – My buddy, Gina (HI!) sends me my horoscope each week and this week was a fun one. It was about pen names and how I should come up with my own alias. I liked this idea and so upon departing the market with my really, really, really, really blue bag in tote, I found that my walk had a new bounce to it and so I decided that today’s alias was Bouncy Ragazza!

Another sunny and warm day in Ascoli and MariLena and I had planned to go to the little hillside town of Offida after our lesson. I was excited about this excursion. As I’ve said many times (and will repeat myself so forgive me), MariLena is a delight and we are buddies. I have to say, she’s my favorite person in Ascoli right now.

We had our 2 hour lesson and then made our way to the bus station walking arm and arm like we had grown up together. I've decided Dulce is her alias. With tickets in hand and a crowd of teenagers waiting as well, we board a comfortable, air conditioned bus and relax while someone does the driving. MariLena has a car but she decided to not drive so she could also relax and enjoy the scenery (and be kind to the environment). We knew all along that we would be arriving in this small town during the “rest period” and so our expectations were to merely walk, site see, enjoy, chat and have lunch for a few hours in a new place.

The tour books do not lie when they exclaim how beautiful the hillside towns are in this region. They are picture perfect just as they are in Tuscany without the tourists and tour buses.

Upon arriving, we first confirmed the time of the return bus and where we should wait (she’s just like me), now we were free to roam. This hillside town probably has a population of about 5,000 inhabitants; it is lovely and immaculate. I just love the architecture of the residences. They are always built of either the white local stone or brick, always colored shutters and this area (including Ascoli) are displaying tons and tons of flowers and humongous palm trees. It’s surprisingly tropical here.

We walk and walk and talk and talk both Italian and English. After a while, we find a café and sit down to lunch. A delicious sandwich of prosciutto crudo, soft cheese and greens is so very satisfying with a nice green salad.

We are about 15 minutes early for our return bus and find a park with a clear view of the bus stop so we can watch for it. From our vantage point, we actually see a bus parked and assumed it was ours. After just a few minutes, we decide to simply go and wait at the bus stop; we see a couple of policemen talking and as we are looking around for the bus driver, one of the policemen prompts MariLena and she is told by him that the bus to Ascoli had already come and gone. This was very distressing news as the next bus was not for another 4 hours and we would not get back to Ascoli until around 9pm…..MariLena seemed more distressed over the question of how could we have missed it, we were sitting and looking right at the bus stop the whole time. She kept repeating how we both have a set of eyes and we could not have missed seeing it! It was concluded that we were probably directed to the wrong bus stop. So, MariLena pulled out her cell phone and began to call everyone in her family: mother, father, brother, brother’s friend, boy friend and finally we get the good news that MariLena’s boyfriend’s father (who is retired) would come pick us up! As lovely as Offida is, there simply was not 4 more hours of anything to do there.

While waiting, a gentleman approached us who heard my American accent and proceeded to join us in conversation. He was a British writer whose girlfriend (who was a painter) was from this area and they came here often to visit family. A bit of trivia he shared – the tailor for Frank Sinatra lived in this town! Too bad we didn’t run into him!

The “future father-in-law” arrives (only waited about 20 minutes entertained by the British writer) and we proceed to have a lovely drive back to Ascoli which was only about another 25 minutes.

It was a lovely time.

Tonight, my housemates and I were having dinner together. Diane is now here in Ascoli for her annual 2 month annual visit. She is a Professor at a small college in Maine and her personal passion is Medieval History. She is working on a 5,000 line translation of an old Italian document. She’s been coming here for 6-7 years. We hit it off and it's a joy to have a new personality in my little circle.

I prepare a salad and Daniela has purchased some home-made thin pasta and she fries up prosciutto and season with just some lemon rind, parsley and parmesano cheese, creates such a simple yet outstanding dish. Wonderful meal.

Once dinner is over, dishes washed, table clean, it’s about 9pm and we’re all happy to be home tonight. I offer up a movie…set up my laptop, pull the couch close as we all find our comfort and start to view, “Under the Tuscan Sun”….Diane had never seen it and Daniela was happy to practice her English.

It was a lovely way to end such a lovely day!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely!

    Did I ever tell you that my pen name/alter ego is "Honey Butter"?