Encountering the southern Italian shrug – “don’t know and don’t care.....”
Nov 2, 2011
|Entering southern Italy, while reinstalling us on familiar ground, was a culture shock. In the last week we have learned:
• You know that the summer season is over when the ice cream fridge is wrapped in shrink wrap.
• You have heard of GMT, Eastern Standard Time etc.; well southern Italy is on a new time zone. This time zone is always 2 hours later than the time you were told to show up to meet the computer technician, collect your pizza or whatever.....
• When the home made pizza is finally ready it is wonderful – even for Liz who should not be eating it in the first place.
• We found a smaller place to sleep than the loft in our camper van (pretty difficult I might add) – the 2-berth cabin on the overnight crossing of the Adriatic from Dubrovnik to Bari.
• When parking in Italy, to attract less attention, never park between the lines or in a parking lot. Always park at right angles to the rest of the cars, preferably on a corner and to really avoid the police right across a pedestrian crossing........In any case it is not possible to buy a parking voucher to display, as the shop refuses to sell them to you and just laughs dismissively insisting you don’t need one.
• Talking of pedestrian crossings – “A place where Italians gather to die”.
• When making a U-turn in Italy (a frequent event in our case), never turn into the oncoming traffic unless there are at least 4 seconds before impact. Otherwise it will upset the choreographed flow of Italian drivers changing lanes.
• We have been in the Abruzzo mountains in central Italy for several days. On the 4th day we found out that the clocks had gone back one hour 3 days ago - how much more relaxed can you get......... No wonder the bread was not ready at 9:30 a.m. (old time).
• 4 people do not fit into the cab of an old VW pick-up, unless the outside person (Liz) holds onto the open door with one hand and the dashboard with the other.
Although we have been to Italy on numerous occasions, there are still some surprises when arriving here, especially on an overnight ferry from Croatia. The ferry arrived at 8:00 a.m., but the port police and customs officials don’t start until 9:00 a.m. “Do you have anything to declare?” “No apart from a hangover as I drank it all last night....”
After a brief stint in Puglia, we headed to the Abruzzo mountain range in central Italy and what a revelation it has been with some of the most spectacular scenery and hiking we have done in Italy. The perfect weather and bright fall colours have made it all the more special. Liz did remarkably well, hiking up one of the steepest peaks in the park – Mount Amaro at 6,000 feet. Mountain ridges, steep pastures with horses and clear streams and of course the Italian sense of humour when it comes to trail markers and sign posts have made our time here memorable.
From Abruzzo we headed north and took the opportunity to stay for a day in the Republic of San Marino – the oldest republic in the world, and an independent state within Italy. With a total land area of 65 kms square it is perched on top of a 675 meter lump of rock. Although tiny in size, it boasts museums covering a diverse range of subjects – Ferrari cars, weapons, torture, wax dummies and a collection of “curiosities”.
We are continuing north to visit with my Italian aunt in Padova. She is close to 90 and will insist on cooking us enough food for at least 8 dinners. One of my favourite places to go....................
Ian & Liz