Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Thursday 13 January - twinkly blue eyes & a romp up the hill

D-Day minus 1.

The alarm waking us at 7am this morning was a bit harsh.  Neither of us wanted to be awake at this time, let alone drag ourselves out of our far too warm bed and into the cold (no heating in our room), dark, January morning.

But we needed to get to the garage for 8am and then on to Pescara for our meeting with Financial Advisor, Walter, at 9am to sort out the cash and cheques for completion tomorrow.  The Italians don't seem to use the simple, quick and clean (sterile?) process of bank transfer for moving money around.  At the final signing tomorrow we've got to have all the outstanding monies on the table for counting.  This is split between a number of cheques: one for the notary, one for the property agents, one for each of the sellers and a whole wad of cash for everyone, who clearly don't want to declare their own individual gross profits of the sale.

If ever we needed inspiration for getting moving in the morning it was the sight that was awaiting us as soon as we opened the shutters of the bedroom windows.  What an amazing sunrise!  I have never ever seen such an incredible sky.  It was ablaze with reds and golds and oranges, blues and purples.  Gran Sassa, home to the highest and most dramatic peaks of Abruzzo, wasn't to be left out of nature's party and these mountains of snow threw a soft and shimmering pink back to the sky.  Just wow.

A good omen for the day to come?

The visit to the garage, that we'd both been worrying about all night, not sure how to tackle, turned out nicely in our favour.  We left feeling quite humbled by kindness and a little guilty for doubting the honesty of the garage owner.  He'd done a great job and far more than we'd expected or asked for, and at a bargain price.  Being a girl with no interest in mechanics and engineering whatsoever, I left it to the men to strut around the car looking at and poking the wheels and making the usual gruff and growlie sounds of appreciation, awe and wonder at such things.  All in all, I think Mr Garage Man did a very good job indeed and is now KP's NBF.

Next stop Pescara.  It was good to see Walter again.  He took us to the bank and guided us through the process of arranging the cheques and withdrawing the cash and even went through internet banking with us so we can now check transactions online.  He also showed us how to use the bank card at cash points to top up the mobile.  Nice man, and with very kind, twinkly blue eyes.  We like Walter.

All set for tomorrow, we were starting to enjoy ourselves and, feeling more confident that this is all actually going to happen, and we really were going to be moving into our house on Saturday, we went shopping for a bed.

We had lots of fun in the bed shop and, after trying a few out for size (somewhat essential when, by Italian standards, you're a 6'3" freak), we were round the back collecting our chosen bed and tying it to the roof rack with the climbing ropes.  We also bought a duvet, pillows and linen, and a mobile phone, and a dongle!  We won't be on the floor in sleeping bags after all!  And we'll have internet access.  Yippidee doo dah!  Bring on Saturday!

Over lunch in a Pescara bar we made a quick call to the agents and soon had the OK to deliver the bed straight to the house this afternoon.  Another Yippidee doo dah!  By off-loading the bed and all the stuff we'd been carting around in the back of the beastie all week we will only need to make the one trip from the Gallard's on Saturday morning.

View across the valley
So we dropped everything off at the house, which was bathed in glorious sunshine.  The skies were so clear and sharp that we could even see the pistes of Passo Lanciano sparkling in the distant sunlight.  Hey, we'll be able to sit in our garden with our binos and watch the skiing!  Nice one.

We reluctantly dragged ourselves away (one more day, just one more day), went back to the Gallards, changed into running gear and set off for the hills at a good romp.

The Abbey, Maiella
The cheeky Maiella, not one to be taken lightly or without respect, soon knocked the wind out of our sails.  Our chosen route took us almost directly and vertically up.  It was muddy and it was rocky.  And it hurt.  Eventually it levelled off and then it was just sheer joy.  Running through the trees with glimpses through the clearings at the hills below and Gran Sasso in the distance was inspiration indeed.  Beautiful Chieti, perched precariously atop the highest hill, with her magnificent cathedral taking up centre stage, was lit up to a golden glow by the late afternoon sun.  You could almost, almost, see the sea.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Before long, we were hurtling back down the hill, leaping over rocks, past streams and ruined castles.  And then we hit the bottom and ran into Serramonacesca.  We loped through her ancient streets, under the archway and then started the climb back up to Colle Serra.  More pain.  But, boy, was it good.  50 minutes and 6km of pretty harsh terrain but with the most stunning views.  It really doesn't get any better.

View to the castle from the house

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