V: Enter Mr Underwood

The last time I wrote a blog me & Victor were all set for a salubrious night’s nobility, camping in the grounds of a stately hunting lodge. Unfortunately, the owner’s daughter came back & discovered that, as I’d moved the chairs from the porch that her mum had hidden the key to the house under one of the pillows on the chair, she couldn’t get in! Cue a wee bit of pandemonium & fast-thinking Italian chat from me, & before you knew it the police had been called, but a few moments later the key was found, & a few minutes after that me & Vic had packed up the tent (in the dark) & were out of there before the police could arrive. We ended up back on the beach for a pleasant enough night.

From there we jumped trains down into Pescara, a solid enough city, with glorious long golden beaches & a relaxed vibe. After watching the Manchester derby, we headed out of the city & up into the hills, to Loreto Alfrunti. My word, what a lovely town, a royal ruby set in a world of olive trees – the place is famous for its olive oil I guess. The first night we camped, & the second night we squatted a very cool old house, which gave us our first proper beds in two weeks – much to Victors home-comfort seeking delight.

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Also in the town we met an English ex-pat, who recently sold his house in Bolton & entered the property market in this region of the Arruzzo – the new Tuscany apparently. He was a likeable chap & was from Rawtenstall, near Burnley. Indeed, in his lifetime he has been the last stall-holder on Padiham market & even taught at my old secondary school – Gawthorpe High – as a supply teacher. He was half-Italian &, at the age of 47, had gone off in search of his roots, whose Italian language is laced with a very thick Northern English accent. It was chuckling to see him teaching some Italian toddlers English in the local library, who now think ‘but-tee’ is the proper word for a sandwich!

And so for the arrival of Mr Underwood. Me, Vic, the Bendrix & him had all been a part of Saraswati – my band in Edinburgh. A couple of days back we’d gone down to Pescara airport & camped a mile away in some lush countryside. Then Paul arrives on a late-night plane & we went off back to base full of high spirits. These were hardly dented by the arrival of the Carabineri, who told us to put out our fire & turn the music off, checked our passports & left us to it. ‘Benevenuto in Italia’ I told Paul, & meant it.

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Yesterday we caught a coach from Pescara to Rome (15 quid), foraging through the glorious scenery of the Apennine ridge; a mix of hilltop towns, castles, narrow ravines & soaring peaks. I’d took my shoes off as I got on, to dry off mi socks a bit – but the guys sat behind me told me to put ‘em back on – I guess that’s two weeks on the road for ya. However, things are now looking up. I’ve took the guys to Forte Prenestina – a great hippy instruction in the Roman suburbs. There are about 20 regulars who sleep in the old barracks; plus bars, stages, arts spaces, studios & the such like. We are staying in the dormitory here, for free, & by catching the nearby number 5 tram we’re in the centre of Rome in 25 minutes.

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After writing mi blog this morning, we proceeded to have a lovely walk around Rome, basking in endlessly cloudless skies. Tramming it into town we hit the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, strolled up to the Vatican on the west bank of the Tiber, checked out the Holy See, had a picnic on the Spanish Steps (where I discovered Paul is a dead ringer for Keats), tossed coins into the Trevi Fountain before tramming it back to the Fort & some well-earned comfort & rest.

Rome
28/10/11

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