Not Allowed

There’s a new sign been put up in our local bank. Is it not advertising a new interest rate or even mortgage services?

No. It’s a list of all the things you are not allowed to take into the banking hall.

In Italy before you can go into the bank you have to step into a Tardis type ante-chamber, where undecipherable electronic words are barked at you as I imagine you are scanned to see if you’re concealing anything about your person. Once satisfied the door opens and you can enter. As only one person at a time is allowed in the Tardis and it means the flow of visitors is controlled by the staff at the counters. We did once cause much consternation at our bank, when two of us went into the scanning chamber at the same time.

This new sign is in a prominent position beside the Tardis and it tells the passing observer that they can enter the bank carrying keys. However there is list of banned items that are not permitted to be taken inside. These prohibited items are cameras, briefcases, umbrellas and guns.

Now I’m not one who casually walks about town wielding a firearm, but surely it stands to reason that guns wouldn’t be allowed and anyone walking into a bank carrying one would instantly be assumed to be about to commit a felony.

In Pescara last weekend I saw another sign, this was in a shop window and consisted of two lines of text that made me smile:


The sign reads, Opening hours, every day. Except it was closed with the shutters pulled down on the day I walked past, so the shop is obviously not open every day.

Being Local

With the iPod shuffling I drove to the bank ahead of tomorrow’s closure due to it being All Saints day, Spandau Ballet play Chant No1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) 12” Mix, as I park up and join the queue at the cash machine. It seems like everyone in Selva  Piana needs to get cash out. I’m standing behind an elderly lady who’s humming a discordant tune to herself, when a man asks me if I want the bank or the ATM. I explain I want the cash machine and the whole queue that’s lined up in front of it moves, they’re all waiting to go into the bank and the cashiers are operating a two people, out, two people, in, system.

After withdrawing some cash I head off up the hill that leads to Vizzarri, Somebody Told Me, by Eurythmics plays as I pull into the car park at Scriz, a family-run independent supermarket. I’m picking up a packet of De Cecco pasta when the doors open and there’s a commotion by the fresh fruit. I hear a lot of excited English voices as a group that have arrived in a mini bus enter the store. A man at the front is talking to the group and a couple of excited ladies pick a packet of biscuits up and examine the wrapper.

I’m down at the sliced meats section talking to my friend behind the counter when the group arrive and stand behind me. I order some cooked ham and my friend is cutting me four slices when I hear one of the biscuit women exclaim, “Isn’t it lovely when you hear them speak Italian.” I am slightly tempted to ask what she’d expect to hear, Cantonese, but my friend asks me if I want anything else. I’m ordering six slices of prosciutto nostrano (traditional dry-cured ham) when the group leader addresses them saying, “Here you can see the locals buying their sliced meat and cheeses in much the same way they have been doing for years.

Although it’s only a tourist group, it’s a nice feeling to be considered a local; although the people who originate from here would never consider me that, to them I’ll always be that crazy foreigner (quello straniero pazzo).

Talking about being crazy, as you know I have a few OCD issues, one of which is related to my job as a writer. I only use Staedtler pencils, it’s irrational I know but I genuinely find it difficult to take notes using any other brand of pencil. Most ex-pats get sent HP sauce, Cheddar and other food goodies from back home, but imagine how happy I was to be sent over these beauties: