Nuns

Money, Money, Money by Abba is playing today. I’ve just returned from Lanciano, where I’ve been offered a job, so here’s hoping it’s an omen. (So now I have two jobs, and I thought I came to Italy for an early retirement).

As I was walking from the car park to the town centre I was accosted by two nuns, I say accosted, when in truth a softly spoken girl with an angelic face gently touched my arm and stopped me saying, “Mi scusi.” I looked at her large imploring brown eyes, then at her partner, who was the opposite, a brutish looking nun with a better moustache than I can ever hope to grow and black foreboding eyes. I swallowed hard and looked back to the pretty nun… Is it acceptable to refer to a nun as pretty?

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She asked me for directions to a street that I had no knowledge of, I apologised for being no help; in fact, I think I atoned by explaining I was a stupid Englishman with a meagre grasp of the street layout of Lanciano.

The gentle nun nodded and said goodbye while her accomplice grimaced and I’m sure I heard her growl as they walked away. As I walked on I remembered an Italian friend saying to me once that if you need to cross a very busy road, avoid being run over by staying close to a nun. Italian drivers always slow down for a nun as it’s a sin to run one over, in fact I did once hear it was illegal to hit one with your car.

I’m not sure what he meant when he said the same doesn’t always go for a priest.100_3129

Dough on the Dash

One thing that has changed since moving to Italy is my bread consumption. I’ve never been a fan of the English white sliced, always preferring crusty farmhouse cobs. Here in Italy there’s such a selection of breads available from ciabatta to foccacia and piadina to pagnotta, so there’s always the right bread for the right meal. As flour and yeast are so cheap here I’ve taken to making all the bread we require; it works out at roughly sixty cents to make a large loaf which when compared to the commercially made loaves available works out better economic sense, not to mention the fact that you can moderate the amount of salt included in the recipe.

At the weekend I decided to make a ciabatta for a change, my favourite is a fennel seed and garlic one, but today I’ll make a plain bread. Ciabatta, meaning, slipper is a popular bread back in the UK, it’s spongy texture making it an ideal bread for soaking up good quality olive oil and sauces, especially when making the little shoe, (fare la scarpetta). In the summer making bread is relatively easy as once the dough has been made it’s a case of leaving it on the windowsill and letting the warm sunshine help it to prove and double in size. The January temperature isn’t quite high enough for dough proving, and as we don’t have a cupboard housing the hot water tank, it a case of resorting to finding other ways of warming the dough enabling the yeast to do its magic. I look at our car sat at the top of the lane, it’s basking in the sunshine and I guess the interior is quite warm. I take a stroll up and open the door and the warmth inside seeps out, it’s perfect for proving dough, so the tray with the ciabatta sits on the top of the dashboard in the afternoon sunshine and doubles in size before being ready to pop into the oven to bake.

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A passing family in a Fiat Panda give me a puzzled look as I later remove it from the car, I smile wave and under my breath I say, “It’s amazing how resourceful we Britalian contadini can be when we need to be.” They just smile and give me a half-hearted wave, I can read their minds as once again they think, si straniero pazzo, (you crazy foreigner).

Road Block

Don’t you just hate it when you’re prevented from going about your business by external sources. Today I was driving to the shop when I came around the bend by the war memorial in the lane and had to hit the brakes as the track down to Merosci was blocked.

Readers’ voices…

Had one of the ruins beside the road collapsed?

Was the refuse lorry parked there?

Heaven forbid there’d been a landslide

Had an olive tree fallen over?

Back to me…

No, neither the road was blocked by a chicken, a brown bobbing headed chicken that just refused to move. I beeped my horn at it and it just looked at me, I inched closer in the car and still the bloody thing wouldn’t budge. I even got out of the car expecting it to take flight; but no, it just looked at me, it’s eyes, malevolent, mocking me.799px-Chicken_free_range_1

But I wasn’t going to be beaten, I clapped my hands and shooed it away into the olive grove before resuming my journey, satisfied that man had won over bird. With bravery I had triumphed in the face of adversity. With dogged determination I had succeeded.

Well that was until on the way back when the whole cycle of road block chicken removal was repeated.

Picture © Anemone Projections used via Creative Commons (Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository)

How Odd ( a short scene taken from reality)

Time: 21.30

Place: An Italian House

Man 1. Pours himself a glass of wine.

A car horn sounds.

Man 1. Puts down the wine bottle and walks to the door and opens it as he restrains his dog.

Man 1. Sees a car containing 2 men.

Man 1. Can I help you?

Man 2. Are you English?

Man 1. Yes.

Man 2. We come for you.

Man 1. What?

Man 2. Hands Man 1 a sheet of paper.

Man 1. Looks at paper. On it written in English is directions from Ciampino airport in Rome to this lane in the Abruzzi countryside.

Man 3. We take you to the airport?

Man 1. No.

Man 2. Is there three English for the airport?

Man 1. Not here mate.

General confusion, man 1 reads again and sees it says ‘our friends live at this house’

Man 3. Is this from your friends?

Man 1. No.

Man 2. Will your dog attack.

Man 1. (Lies) Yes. It mentions a yellow house.

Man 3. Is there a yellow house.

Man 1. Yes, but not up this end of the road.

Man 2. Where is a yellow house?

Man 1. Down the road, that way.

Car reverses up lane and drives away in the direction of the yellow house

Man 1. Goes back into the house and resumes the pouring of the wine.

This happened here on 27th August 2013. Odd doesn’t cover it.