It’s fair to say that the Italian people don’t like rain, if you need proof, pop along to any social gathering and watch as they flee when it starts to rain.
In the autumn I was at the festival of the bells in Lanciano when it began raining, the crowds that were gathered around the abundant stalls selling ceramic bells dissolved in an instant into shop doorways, under awnings and crowding into the open doorways of bars and restaurants.
This dislike of rain was again proven on Friday when I went along to the local open market, streets that are normally teeming with shoppers and cluttered with stalls were deserted. hardly any stalls had bothered to turn up and the only shoppers where the diehard, we need fresh fruit and veg brigade – who left as soon as they’d purchased their provisions.
I took a walk along the main street, there was only around seven stalls, set up in their usual spot, which made them look odd with no neighbouring stall beside them. During my (pointless) visit I spotted a sign on a house that was telling all and sundry that a baby had been born.
I quite like the Italian way of sharing the news of a birth with passers by, the hanging of a pink or blue rosette on the house must cut down on the amount of time a visitor would pop by just to enquire on the new arrivals gender. The house in question displayed that the baby was a boy, and the stork attached to the balcony implied it arrived without any bedroom antics having taken place.
So with the market literally a washout, I switch on the iPod and walk back to my car as Project B starts to play Summer Dreaming. Kelly Rowland sings, ‘Come on over, let’s have some fun, dancing in the morning sun.’ Okay, lyrically it’s no masterpiece but least on a miserable wet day, there’s some sunshine in my ears.
Today I popped to the post office. I park up and see an elderly gentleman walking down the road towards me, I wish him a cheery good morning, hoping it will make the drizzly day seem better, but no, not so much as a smile let alone a reply.
I’m walking away when a woman comes to ask me if I’ll be parked for a long time, I tell her I’m just going to the post office and she shrugs and tells me that I’ll be too long and she wants the space for her friend to park, so she wont get too wet walking to her car. I try to tell her I’m sure I wont be too long, but she ignores me and walks off slamming her front door.
There’s a handful of people in the queue before me and the at the counter is the cheerful woman and the miserable man who hardly says a word. I’m trying to work out if it’s possible I’ll get cheery woman when the door opens behind me and a woman enters. One of the gentlemen sitting gets up and offers the woman his seat but she declines and shuffles past him to sit at a vacant seat further away. He looks at her and asks if she’s all right, to which she responds by telling him to mind his own business.
My turn comes and sadly I’m left with the man behind the counter, I can’t offer my turn to anyone else as this would cause consternation in the queue and throw post office etiquette in the air. I hand him my bill, he takes it, sniffs because the edge of the paper is torn, so he takes a pair of scissors and trims it before holding out his hand for the payment. No words have been exchanged and he just drops my change onto the counter and when I say thank you, there’s still no response.
I am beginning to come to the conclusion that everyone in town is miserable today. Maybe it’s the rain?
I’m walking back to my car when a man wishes me good morning, I turn and he’s smiling beneath his umbrella. A bright pink umbrella with a frill. I guess he’s so comfortable with his sexuality that he’s happy to be seen with this feminine umbrella.
I wish him good morning and climb into my car as the miserable woman from earlier comes out of her house to stand in the now vacant spot. I shake my head in disbelief as I watch her getting wet as she waits for her friend to arrive.
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.