Sunday, 30 January 2011

Saturday 29 January - a market & a cane burning

Lanciano
For the first time since we got here, and probably for the first time ever, we actually managed to get out of bed and out of the door whilst it was still reasonably early in the morning.  We were both floored when we checked the time as we were driving to Lanciano.  It was only half past eight!  How the hell did we do that?!  By missing my coveted breakfast, that's how.  Amazing, with just two more days to go before we go home, we've finally done it.

Lanciano



But it was good, and explained why everyone here are early risers.  As soon as we got to Lanciano, and had our much needed coffee and croissants, we started to enjoy ourselves.  All the shops were open and there was a great hustle and bustle in the market.  Everywhere was alive!  Normally, by the time we get out, even though it may be mid-morning, everywhere is starting to wind down and close and nobody is interested in selling or showing you anything at all.  But this was great!

We had fun in the market and came away with a few bargains, KP doing his usual haggling thing.  I got some very decent kitchen knives: a big carving knife and a meat slicing knife, perfect for slicing the salami the man said; and I got a new coffee pot - hoorah! At last.  And my bargain of the century, a fabulous big, chunky, green-flecked, jumper with a wonderfully cosy, big, roll neck.  KP says I look like Kermit the frog, but at €3 I was very happy to look like Kermit the frog.

Tina's house, Lanciano
We popped in to Tina and Richard's place in the centro storico to take them breakfast and have a nosey around.  What a beautiful little place.  Slap bang in the middle of the ancient part of Lanciano and about 500 years old.  Its all twisty hidden rooms, on lots of different levels and with a lot of the old stone revealed.  Just beautiful.

We finally got back mid-afternoon and KP set about having a go a revealing the old stone in our house.  Ha ha.  In the corner of our bedroom there is some slight damp that's been caused by the drain pipe (that is now safely tucked away in the water butt).  The damp has loosened the plaster and so provided a great opportunity for having a little chip away to see if its worth the time and effort of revealing the stone.  KP's been itching to have a go ever since we bought the house.  So he set too in the corner with his hammer and chisel and spent the afternoon happily tap tapping away.  It was looking good.  Until he sat back to admire his handy work and mused as to why there appeared to be no end to this huge piece of rock.  No joins, no irregularities, no nothing.  Just grey rock.  Maybe they used massive stones for the corners, he thought?  I joined him in his musings and suggested he chip deeper, that rock looked suspiciously like rather old concrete.

So with a few hefty bangs of the hammer on the chisel we were studying the small lump of 'rock' that had been knocked out.  Concrete.  Definitely concrete.  A few more hefty bangs revealed the concrete to be covering bricks beneath it.  Bugger.  Guess we won't be revealing any stone in this part of the house.  At least we found bricks beneath, not breeze blocks, or I think I might have cried.

A very close inspection of the house then followed with us comparing the floors and the depths of the walls in various different parts of the house.  Oh my God.  The walls are different depths.  Well, well, well.  Our close inspection suggested that various parts of the house have been added to at various points in its history.  The kitchen, the room above, and the cantina are definitely the old original stone.  But the rest of the house, the rooms at either end, are later additions.  Fascinating.  Now I can't wait to get my hands on the deeds to see if they throw up any light.

A bit later, we walked into Serramonacesca to stretch our legs and see what's happening.  The bars were very busy (at least by Serra standards) and everyone was pretty lively and noisy.  OK, it may have been Saturday night, but it was definitely more rowdy than usual.  Something was going on.  Ian and Carol then arrived, so we knew something was up.

It was the Festa of the burning of the canes!  Hey, how about that!  The one that was cancelled last week because of the snow.  So we ditched our early supper and early night plans (both suffering a little now from our early rise this morning) and joined everybody up the hill in the dumper truck shed, which doubles as the village hall.  There was a load of food laid out, carefully made by the women of the village this afternoon, a load of sausages on the go and plenty of free flowing wine.  There was also a very crackling sound system that did little more than blast out a few times before dying again whilst someone fiddled with the wires.

Cane burning, Serramonacesca
The canes were burning well outside and we had the most surprising jolly old time.  We met lots of people and some great characters.  We even met the Mayor!  At last!  KP was ecstatic.  He's been dying to meet this oh so powerful patriarch of the community that demands much bowing, scraping and deference.  No one can even sneeze without the permission of the Mayor.  But he was just a normal guy.  Not a God at all.  No robes, no chains, no funny hats.  Just a little guy, quite young, with jeans, an old coat and a beany pulled well down.  Nice guy.  His wife looked pretty scary though.  Clearly the one who rules the mayoral chambers.

Eventually we pulled ourselves away, full of sausage, cake, wine and bonhomie and made the very dark walk back to our mismatch of a house with an attractively revealed concrete wall in the bedroom.

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