14-16 June: Final days in Italy

Author: Mrs A

Location: Loro Piceno, San Ginesio, Sirolo, Ancona, Le Marche, Italy

Friday: Our friends Karen and Stuart left early for their flight back to the UK, leaving the rest of us recovering from the night before, chilling by the pool and generally relaxing. After lunch we jumped into the car and drove to San Ginesio, about a 20 minute drive from Loro Piceno.

San Ginesio was greatly impacted by the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that hit this region in 2016, and has sadly not yet recovered. There is a lot of debate at civic level regarding the types of materials to be used in the rebuilding as well as a lack of funds being distributed. Signs posted by the few remaining locals around the town square displayed their frustration at the lack of progress in rebuilding.

The church in the square covered in scaffolding – the sheet hung in the background displays a message asking for rebuilding to commence now!

Walking around the town which was once a bustling gem of a historical centre, it feels more like a ghost town, with closed shops, empty buildings reinforced with scaffolding, wire and wood, and hardly a single soul to be seen.

Putting up all these reinforcements would have been quite a feat
A precarious looking tower
Views from the top of the village

There were some signs of life, with the occasional sound of renovation, drilling and machinery behind the hoardings, and the local football pitch being relaid. But otherwise it felt like a sad place, somewhere where the heart and soul had been removed, abandoned shops and buildings still advertising menus and events with dates long past. We left hoping that something is done soon to relieve these poor communities and help bring them back to life while maintaining the history which makes these areas so unique.

There is still a heart here…it just beats slower than before…

Friday night was spent out in Loro Piceno – the town comes to life with its bars and restaurants, live music livening up the lanes.

Saturday: As our final day in Loro Piceno it was a relaxing one, with a lot of pool time and even a chance to catch up on some reading. Mark and I left John and Catriona in charge of the house and went off to do some shopping with Mel and Barney…some new clothes purchased (the all important new bikini!) and a lovely light lunch on our way home.

Looking across the well used pool towards the village of Loro Piceno

That evening, some of Mel and Barney’s English neighbours drove over for a barbecue. It was interesting hearing their stories of the earthquake impact – they too are still awaiting funds to restore their home and business. Their Italian cooking school will have to wait.

Barney finally fires up the BBQ – only took him a week! 😉
L-R: Lucy, John, Mike, Mel, Catriona, Barney, Mr A, Mrs A

It was lovely to meet more people from around this area and hear their perspective on life in Italy.

Sunday: John and Catriona left to fly back to the UK, while Mark and I took our chance to do some final washing before we moved on our way after lunch.

We farewelled Barney and Mel, secure in the knowledge we have made some very lovely friends there, ones we hope we remain in touch with and see again in the not too distant future. We are so grateful for them opening their hearts and home to us and our friends this past week, their generosity on all accounts.

And so we jumped into Truffy the Hymer and drove off down the motorway towards Ancona.

Our first stop was Decathlon to buy a table – we decided that eating off our laps and the odd box was not the thing to do. The princely sum of €14 bought us a table that fits neatly in our garage.

From there we drove to our campground for the night. We’d selected a location just south of Sirolo, a cliff top village I had read about. As soon as we were settled we got out the bikes and went for a ride along the seafront and up to the village.

Lots of boats out on this Sunday afternoon

Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Sirolo used to be a castle in medieval times, but now is a very pretty bustling village. There are plenty of the usual tourist shops, but generally everything is beautifully presented, flowers everywhere and lots of shady trees to cool those who have hiked up the cliffs (or ridden their eBike!) to the viewing points.

The village retains the layout of the ancient medieval castle with the same laneways closed within the fortified walls. One of the ancient towers remains. Cycling down the narrow lanes you could feel the atmosphere of an ancient medieval village.

Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Monday: We departed and headed a short way up the coast to Ancona. We had a few hours to kill before we were to catch our ferry to Croatia, so parked up along the coast at the war memorial for a few hours. We were grateful for the cooling sea breeze and fabulous views as we whiled away the hours before we left.

Stormy skies behind the WW1 memorial, paid for by the Ancona community

Parc Regionale del Cono – can anyone spot Truffy?

We reflected on our time in Italy – we had expected it to be full of crazy drivers and pickpockets, and instead found people full of warmth, always a smile, and roads which were not at all stressful. The food and wine has been delicious and affordable, and scenery just beautiful. Italy is definitely on our list to return to, there is so much more to discover.

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