Annie’s Adventure in Agnone

Once a year my friend, ‘The Lovely Annie’ as I refer to her comes over to Italy to join me in an adventure. Now our adventures are not high octane or feats that could prove life threatening. There’s no diving from ridiculous heights into vats of cooling tagliatelle or climbing Italian mountains dressed in traditional Alpini uniforms, our adventures are of the more sedate variety. This year’s adventure is to visit a town neither of us have been to before.  We mix the excitement up with a decision to leave the safety of our region of Abruzzo and cross the border into Molise. So on a hot and sunny August morning we set off for Angnone, a town we’ve randomly chosen – gripping isn’t it?

The journey takes us about 45 minutes and very soon we’re over the border into the Isernia province of the much maligned and often ignored region of Molise. The first thing that strikes us the greenery, the countryside is lush and has an almost alpine feel despite the region being less mountainous than Abruzzo. We come around a bend and Agnone comes into sight. We follow the signs for the centre of town and find a parking space to abandon the car in. The space between the two cars is tight and I can only get out of our 4×4 monster by climbing over into the back and exiting through one of the rear doors. After struggling in 30 degree temperatures to wrestle myself free from the car another car in the shade with more space leaves the car park and I’m then climbing back inside, face pressed up against the widow as I try to get my lanky legs over the headrest to plonk myself back into the driver’s seat. The car is eventually parked and I’m a sweaty mess as we set off to check out the town.

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Agnone is a well kept town, the streets are free of litter and the old buildings are sandwiched nicely between modern fronted shops and bars. The town has an air of wealth about it despite the rumour that Molise is a poor peasant region. Ladies are shopping in their finery; their hair coiffured and necks adorned with precious gemstone necklaces.

 

We begin our adventure by strolling up the town’s main street just taking in the atmosphere before it’s time for a coffee; we drop into a bar situated on the main corso and the three of us are soon sipping cappuccini as we watch the Agnonese go about their daily routines.

 

The town is famous for its bell manufacturing which has taken place here since 1040: The factory is now run by the Marinelli family who took it over in 1339, and is recognised as the oldest family business in Italy and ranked third oldest in the world. So with this in mind and the fact that the factory created the bell that hangs in Pisa’s leaning tower we head off for tour that is advertised on their website to start at 12.00. Sadly when we arrive as one tour is ending and there’s not another one. (Methinks their website needs updating). So with no opportunity to go inside we take some photos outside with the array of bells on display.

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After the bells we do a little shopping and then make our way through the town stopping occasionally to visit one or two of the 19 medieval churches that are in this small town: There’s actually now 20 churches as a new modern one was recently constructed.

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We stroll up past the council offices and come into a large piazza and as it’s lunch we drop into a restaurant called, Borgo Antico. The service is very good and as the temperature outside is nearing the 34 degree point we’re shown to a table in the shade . Our waitress takes our orders and very soon we’re drinking a cold beer and being served a typical Agnonese platter with truffle flavoured cheese, freshly made bruschetta, a sweet young ricotta and some slices of salami. This was followed by a very flavoursome primo of lamb ragù and pasta. So if you’re ever passing Agnone, drop in and sample the service and food they have to offer.

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Post lunch is followed by more strolling and dropping into the various touristy places, making sure we we step into the Ndocciata museum. Ndocciata is a Christmas festival where men carry flaming borgates, wooden frames of constructed in nine quarters through the streets. We make mental notes to come to witness this in December.

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The day comes to a close with us driving to visit the oddly named nearby town of Capracotta, which literally translates as cooked goat. The drive up through the winding lanes is breath-taking, the countryside is beautiful and as the roads don’t have the steep drops the mountain ones in Abruzzo have we’re able to see for miles.

We’re welcomed into Capracotta by the sight of two dogs copulating on the pavement and make our way up a tiny cobbled street to the lower part of the town. The town is capped by a large impressive church with a fabulous view over the surrounding countryside, we stop at the ‘belvedere’ and marvel at the natural beauty below us before making our way into the church.

DSCF9565 To be honest despite the grand outside appearance of the church it’s interior is rather bland and not much to write home about.

We take some time to sit in the afternoon shade in the local park watching children at play while mothers look on and old men gossip beneath the beech trees. Our drive back takes us through the village of Rosello and we stop off for a drink at the local bar and within minutes the entire population has come out for their passeggiata and we’re overwhelmed by the number of people in this small street as teenagers play cards and shout, ‘Ciao’ to elderly residents and couples walk hand in hand for that special period of time between late afternoon and dinner time. Our day ends with aperitivi followed by pizza at our local pizzeria. DSCF9567

My dictionary defines adventure as, (noun) an unusual and exciting or daring experience and (verb) engage in daring or risky activity. So ours hasn’t been an adventure in the technical term, but 12 hours filled with happiness, love and friendship is in my opinion a fantastic feat to achieve.

Spending Time with an Elephant

I’ve been spending time with an elephant today; actually a rather intelligent elephant that’s pretty clued up about the periodic table. If you think that I’m making a rather outlandish claim, then you are forgiven, despite being in the wrong. What I’m saying is quite true.

Okay, I’ll explain myself…

Last night around 21.00, we heard an odd rumbling noise, we thought nothing of it until this morning when a friend from the nearby town informed me we’d had a tremor: Possibly a throwback from the 4.1 mini-quake 135 km south in Campobasso yesterday. Along with the rumble we had the onset of snowfall. So this morning began with our Italian hill covered in a blanket of white; the forecast of snow had arrived.

After turning on the iPod for the first shuffle of the day, Over the Sea, by Jesse Rae; the blatantly patriotic song about Scotland, that in 1985 only reached number 65 in the charts despite lots of TV coverage on pop music shows plays as I make breakfast.  I decide that a walk up the hill to look over the valley would be a good idea. We wrap up and trudge upwards, the snow is deep making it hard going but we reach the top just as it starts snowing once again. So our descent was amid flurries of white and a biting wind.

Back home with the log burner giving off a generous amount of heat I decide it’s time to become acquainted with Dot the elephant. Dot is the logo for a company based in Cheltenham (UK) called, Stitch Dotcom. The company which took out some advertising space in our previous property brochure is run by two beautiful young ladies; Annie and Alison. They specialise in mail order cross stitch kits; but not your run of the mill kittens and country cottages. Their designs are more contemporary with one of their products being the keys on a standard UK typewriter, which can be framed to spell out your name – or any word you fancy to be honest.

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A few weeks ago the company advertised for people to test stitch some of their patterns to evaluate time taken and the level of experience required to complete the finished product. So with no experience of cross stitch I volunteered.

 

This weekend the post lady delivered me a box which contained everything I need to make my own coaster. I’ve been sent two elements to create, just 2 colours, which I think is ample for a novice. So today I read the instructions several times, checked out what is required of me as a cross stitch tester and chose between molybdenum and niobium for my initial foray into the world of tiny x’s.

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So after choosing niobium, I set to with thread and needle and the stopwatch recorded the time it took to stitch the pattern. After a couple of false starts, I was soon into my stride and after 21:10 minutes I had used all of the first thread I had selected and completed 11.5 rows of the top half of the right-hand side of the letter N.

 

Laura Pausini started to sing Benvenuto and with a self-satisfied smile I packed away my test kit until another day when I look forward to my second date with Dot.

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There’ll be further progress reports in the future to keep me focussed on the task in hand.

For more info about Stitch Dotcom click the link in the text above to reach their website.