Italy

Every twentyfour hours 14

Tuesday morning and I get ready to go for 6am.  I opened one side of the gates. At this the attendant came out and said he would do the gates.

-‘can I see your payment receipt?’

‘ why would you want that?  and was as uncooperative as possible.

‘You have paid only until midnight.’

‘ I paid for one night and stayed for one night’

He walked away and opened the other gate.

Thankully that was the end of it. Whoever thought of charging from midnight to midnight was a complete genius. Turns out it was a greedy woman.

There is a road called the SS16 running the length of the east coast, parallel with the Autostrada. Incidentally, there is also a train which is frequent and stops all the way down the coast. A great option to see Italy. Remember it is a narrow country and Rome is not far away on the other side, over the Appenines.

I opted for the SS16 hoping to see some scenery along the way and of course avoid the massive trucks. I was rewarded with a picturesque drive alongside the sea with fields of sunflowers or borders of cornflowers on the other side.

I chose a campsite called Camping Fano and made for it. When I was within 2 minutes of the front gates, I came across an accident so I had to pass by. The traffic got blocked up for about an hour then I drove back to the campsite. I had rung earlier and had got a good response so although I passed other campsites and was tempted to book in along the way, I stuck with my original plan.

My hunch proved correct. This is a huge campsite, very popular with Italians who come here for the weekend and also for their entire summer holidays. I was met by David who walked around with me so I could choose the site I liked best. The train rushes past here and is incredibly loud so I opted for a site in the middle of a lot of caravans, a bit further from the train, but a stones throw from the sea. I wondered how my caravan would fit in but nothing was too much trouble. The motor mover was called for and David personally put in position.

Fifteen minutes later, I was called over for coffee with Lily across the way. David stayed for the coffee and I was made feel like one of the family. We got over my lousy Italian and the warmth coming from Lily was enough to break any language barriers.

I am about three meters from the beach and the first thing I did after basically setting up the caravan was to go for a swim. How gloriously luxurious to float around on the salty water after all the travelling.  I was so happy to have found a heavenly place with such welcoming people.

This a busy bustling site has built in quiet times from 1 to 2.30 every day.- (Orario de Silenzio) The 25 metre swimming pool has full time lifeguard and the shop is well stocked with everything from huge lumps of Parmigiano and Prosciutto to fresh bread and bottles of water, so that there is hardly any need to leave the campsite during your holiday.

Entertainment is staged at the bar every night although it is all in Italian. I was introduced to everyone who had any English. They described me as bravissima for the ‘sola’ drive I had done.

I think I will stay here for a few days.

Every twentyfour hours 15

 

I started the day by visiting the market at Senigallia, down the coast from Fano. I was little prepared for the stunning elegance of the old town. Wide bridges take you across the river, then though arches into the smaller streets. Columns line the quays where the main part of the market took place – clothes, shoes, jewellery etc.

Further down the quays, the fruit and vegetable market was located in the old Agora or market, a semi circle of stone buildings facing in on the central area of the outdoor market place, dating from Roman times. It had been renovated and preserved with great precision and attention to detail. So while I came to Senigallia for the market, I was bowled over by the architecture and the Old town.

Later in the day, I drove inland to Urbino. This is a must see city if you are on Italy’s east coast. I drove through Fano, then along the old Via Flaminia towards Rome. Roman History was one of my favourite subjects in school and it thrilled me to follow the ancient road towards Roma. Perfectly level of course, built as only the Romans knew how. We in Ireland never had the benefit of Roman roads like the rest of Europe as they clearly did not think it was worth their while invading as they did in England.

A word about Fano – a significant old Roman town where you will see the most imposing walls and fortresses topped with intricate stonework and images of emperors.  Again not to be missed.IMG_5830

When I reached  Urbino, I went straight to the Palazzo Ducale built to the order of Frederico Montefeltro, in the fifteenth century, a ruler, warrior, patron of architecture and art, from the fifteenth century , in other words, a Renaissance man. He ensured that Urbino became a major court and important centre of political and cultural matters. Concerned for his subjects, he ruled fairly. He commissioned Luciano Laurano to build the Palace, in accordance with the latest theories of building and architecture. The result is a beautifully proportioned but enormous palace, with room after massive room and vaulted ceilings topped by the Eagle, the crest of the Montofeltros. The Palace today houses the National Gallery of the Marche area and contains many works by Piero di Francesco, Paulo Ucello and the famous La Muta by Raphael.

One of the more stunning of the paintings to me,  is the Madonna of Senigallia, yes the place I mentioned as having the market earlier in this blog. I seldom take photos of paintings but I was so taken by the colours and the expressions on the faces – seeming in awe yet very concerned – a sense of foreboding as to what is to come, that I broke my usual rule.IMG_5838

One of the rooms or studios is walled in the most wonderful cabinetry. The designs make optical illusions so that musical instruments seem to protrude from the walls.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly romantic, I will share with you a moment that was utterly Italian. As I walked down from the Palace towards where my car was parked, I stopped on one set of battlements that overlook the road that winds around the base of the Palace. I was looking at the surrounding hills with their Cypress trees and sloping fields when a row of motor cyclists came into view, lazily making their way around the bends. I noticed one of them was wearing full leathers and I wondered why he was the only one dressed like that. Then one of other riders looked up at me, beeped the horn and waved. I returned the wave and that was it. But it had a touch of magic to it, a kind of Italian style and spontaneity on a beautiful sunny afternoon when it was truly good to be alive.