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?


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

Italy’s Inept Officer

After yesterday’s mammoth Italian Easter feast we thought we couldn’t eat another thing for at least 48 hours, but an invite to drop by at friends for lunch had us pootling upwards to the mountain town of Roccascalegna. As we waited for other friends to arrive we sipped glasses of fizz in the sunshine, and I wondered how considering the temperature difference between us valley dwellers and the mountain men the annual flowers seemed to be at least a week or two ahead of ours.

We ate a fabulous traditional roast washed down with some wine, although I was driving so was on the water, until Graham opened an expensive bottle of Grappa that Kate had brought along; it would have been churlish not to sample it.

Post lunch we sauntered into town and perched ourselves on a table beside the castle for a brief glimpse of the birds taking part in the falconry display. We were about to get tickets to enter the castle for the medieval show, but when we saw there was a queue of people waiting for others to leave before they could go in, we assumed the audience was at its maximum.

So we sat at a bar in town and watched as a large coach navigated the narrow streets: It never ceases to amaze me how they get these huge coaches up these snake-like roads and how the drivers are able to turn them around in less space than I need to do a three point turn in a standard car.


Because of the celebrations, the volume of traffic is immense for this little mountain town; people have come from the surrounding villages and the roads up to the town have become a temporary car park, with Fiat’s double parked on hairpin bends and Ape’s abandoned at odd angles.

AS the celebrations are winding down the coach has arrived to drop off revellers and pick up another load to transport down the mountain. Cars full of occupants are heading home, fifty per cent of the visitors are heading out of the town in the direction of Gessopalena with the remaining travelling towards Altino.

To prevent a bottleneck near the coach a policeman decides to direct traffic, he’s stopping the flow one way to allow the cars travelling in the opposite direction to pass through. This seems a simple solution, but no, as he stops one car another sneaks through, then three sidle over and skirt around the policeman. Very soon chaos ensues, horns honk and he’s struggling to bring some order to the gridlocked street; we on the other hand sit sipping our drinks and watch in amusement.


Suddenly there’s a distraction and someone over by the coach falls over: Yes I know you shouldn’t laugh when folks fall in the street, but I can’t help it.

The policeman rushes over and we see that the man who has fallen has nothing damaged but his pride, suddenly with no one to direct them, the drivers sort themselves out and the traffic flows smoothly until there’s only a handful of cars left on the street. The policeman returns from the fallen man and scratches his head, wondering where all the cars have gone. We however laugh loudly at his ineptness and order another drink.

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.