Today was lit by one of the highlights of my time in Italy – meeting Clarissa and Arnaldo of Pescara. Nothing like a bit of local input to sink a little deeper into a land. Ben and Clarissa are couch surfing buddies; Clarissa and Arnaldo met us on the beach by the boat! So that’s what the fountain on the shores of the Adriatica is . . . now I see . . . there are its oars . . . huh! it’s a galley. They took us for gelato, settling for second best when the best place in Italy for gelato was closed. We shared an entertaining couple of hours before saying farewell to two wonderful spirited beings.
Today was also a day of rest, relatively speaking. When you’re travelling everything is a mission. So it was with Ben’s laundry, a simple task except when you have to bus it across a strange city whose inhabitants have no intention of speaking your language looking for washing machines.
So too the Gore-tex runners. Ben’s been nagging me to give them a go instead of my hiking boots. I went to The Foot Locker and Athlete’s World . . . anywhere else on Earth in such shops I might have found a pair of Gore-tex runners. Not Italy. Both shops were packed with customers while the stores around were empty. Italians like their shoes. I found a sales assistant. I asked for Gore-tex runners. Both times the assistant shrivelled up his nose: ‘Gore-tex!’. I looked around at all those shining gold and silver runners . . . so Italian! . . . I looked at the feet of the people on the streets . . . no Gore-tex in Pescara.
No Gore-tex, but a fabulous blue sky. Wall to wall, computer graphic blue; all day, no change in colour from east to west. It goes with the pace of life here. Italians do not hurry; they make up for their lack of urgency in their speech. As for siesta, this afternoon I made a good go of it . . . must be one of the sanest customs in the western world!
We are craving pasta for dinner (funny that). It is too early. We find a bar that does not sell pasta. The chef comes out and says we can have pasta. She asks something else and we nod. We sit outside and wait. The waitress comes by with a tray weighed heavy by a pair of bright green cocktails. Ben thinks they are for us . . . he thought the chef offered us cocktails; I thought she offered us bread! The waitress lays the drinks at another table and returns to us, this time laden with a happy selection of tapas which neither of us ordered, neither of us was hungry enough to eat (gelato wasn’t all Clarissa and Arnaldo treated us to) and neither of us wanted to pay for. The carrot sticks, however, were too tempting to refuse, given their fresh food status. The waitress returns with our pasta and discovers our untouched tapas.
‘You do not eat like Italians!’ she says.