A week in Eastern Italy

October was a big month for us. Really big. Yuge Enormous, even.

  • We went on vacation at the beginning of October.
  • We moved from our beloved literal island in the Danube onto a figurative island in the city.1
  • I changed jobs and office buildings at work.2
  • We went on vacation again at the end of October.

It’s almost the end of November now, and it feels like we’re still trying to catch up from October. We’d planned this trip many months in advance, coordinating with my parents and their friends in several different countries, and so bailing or rescheduling it to let us concentrate on our impending move across town and adjustment to a working kitchen again was not an option. Not that we wanted too, anyways — after getting the details mapped out with the new landlady and previous tenants in our new place, it was good to get away from a stressy bit at work.

The Route

We drove from Regensburg to Trentino straight through, leaving after work and crawling through traffic slow-downs on the border to Austria. It took us at least an hour longer than it should have. Shortly before the Austrian border, our outgoing landlady called us to ask us how we were going to leave her a set of keys for work to be done on our apartment while we were gone.

Whoops. We biffed it on that one. But she chuckled disappointedly, saying that ours was the smallest mistake in our kitchen ceiling fiasco. In the end, it didn’t matter too much: the crew who were supposed to install the new ceiling called in sick the week we were gone. 3

When we got to our hotel in Trentino, we were exhausted. We slept well and got moving early the next morning. We had a 5-hour drive ahead us to meet my parents at Iesi, the closest town with a decent-sized train station, about 25 minutes away by car from Ostra Vetere. We were staying in a villa there owned by a cousin of a friend of my parents. It helps to know people!

Ostra Vetere and the area

The villa is about 20 minutes away from Ostra Vetere up and down some hills on foot. You really need a car to get around if you’re going to stay there — you can walk to a couple bakeries on the edge of the village, but for groceries for 9 adults a car and the supermarket in the next town is a must. The roads in the area don’t all look like they’re intended for cars — indeed, we shared the road with plenty of tractors on paths that would feel crowded with two donkeys passing head-on — but after a few days of adjustment, driving in the area didn’t feel so scary anymore. The gas mileage sure took a hit.

Path from our villa to Ostra Vetere
Path from our villa to Ostra Vetere
Outside Ostra Vetere
Outside Ostra Vetere
Outside Ostra Vetere
Outside Ostra Vetere
Outside Ostra Vetere
Outside Ostra Vetere

There was a surprising amount to see in this area of Le Marche — a mostly-off-the-radar region for tourists. Compared to the Lake Garda region, where there were more German license plates than Italian, this was really undiscovered country. We took a couple trips to Senigallia for their markets and restaurants. Never had good luck with the weather there, but the archaeological dig site was an interesting shelter from the drizzle and wind — and it was free, too. In the off-season, not a lot was happening there, but it’s supposed to be kind of bustling in the high season.

On another rainy day, we drove a good chunk of an hour to get to Furlo Pass and the nature preserve surrounding it.

Gorgeous
Gorgeous
Gorgeous
Gorgeous

Not far from there were the Marmitte dei Giganti, where we stopped for a scenic view.

Giants' Cookware
Giants’ Cookware

There were plenty of little bitty towns perched upon the hills in the region, and we had a nice time exploring them.

Tiny village, little old lady, big steps
Tiny village, little old lady, big steps

The villa was very well-equipped: cooking for 9 adults worked out just fine. We brought along some elements from our travel kitchen, but mostly didn’t need them (particularly the olive oil, natch).

It was great to see my parents and hang out with their friends.

The Route Back

We took a different route back than the way down owing to the BnB Sarah’d found us online. We’d vouch for La Scuola in a heartbeat. Our hostess recommended some restaurants in the area, and we choose the one within walking distance after such a long drive. Osteria Sciessere was a complete pleasure, from the wine, through the appetizers, to the main courses. We were too stuffed for dessert, but I have no doubt it would have been great. Local, simple food, very tasty, not too fancy and not too pricey. Go stay at La Scuola and traverse the mountainside to Osteria Sciessere so you can enjoy the house red!

I think these are leftover cable car pulleys from before cars were the typical means of getting up here.
I think these are leftover gondola pulleys from before cars were the typical means of getting up here.
Path from Lusiana to Sciessere
Path from Lusiana to Sciessere

The last leg home to Regensburg led us along some glorious pastures nestled among the mountains on the way to Asiago. We saw plenty of cheese-in-progress — still at the grassy stage, though. We were so high up in the mountains that I’m sure there were clouds below us, and the sun came out to brighten up those cows’ morning. Udderly beautiful.

  1. More on that later, maybe. []
  2. Same boss, same employees, but new, old, and different stuff for me. Probably no more on that, ever — here at least. []
  3. Does it seem weird to you that the landlady didn’t have her own set of keys to the building or the apartments in it? Yeah, us too. []

Bridge Update, Sep…um…October 2016

On the Move

We’ve been busy, like everyone, of course. We’ve been concentrating on the resolution of a small real estate drama, and trying to squeeze progress in that area around not one, not two, but three vacations planned out in advance. But that’s all coming to an end REALLY SOON. Continue reading Bridge Update, Sep…um…October 2016

Signal instant messenger app — now on all my platforms!

This is my White Whale: a messaging application I can use securely on any device I own, mobile or desktop, and any device my recipients are likely to own.

Recently, Open Whisper Systems released the iOS version of their Signal application that allows users to synchronize contacts and messages to a desktop application running as a Google Chrome app. Finally! I can send a message typed in through a full-sized keyboard and it will arrive on Sarah’s iPhone, or my parents’ Android phones, or any of their computers. It will arrive securely and without anyone or anything scanning it for marketing or surveillance purposes. Continue reading Signal instant messenger app — now on all my platforms!

Some Notes on a Long Weekend in Rheinland-Pfalz and a Bridge Update

Rheinland-Pfalz Rund- und Mariä Himmelfahrt

Bavarians celebrated Jesus’ Mom’s Sky Trip on a Monday this year, so we did a road trip of our own. We got an invitation from pals in two different corners of Germany to meet up in a third corner to explore and enjoy. We’d been to a few wine festivals before (with thanks to the Heidelbergerin/Brummagemerin for introducing us to Neustadt an der Weinstraße and Freinsheim, which we loved so much we went back again a few years later). Continue reading Some Notes on a Long Weekend in Rheinland-Pfalz and a Bridge Update

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Catch up on the previous episodes here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Early on the morning of our departure from Naples, Rachel took a taxi to the airport and flew to Sicily to continue her adventures there. We started a long drive back from Naples to Regensburg, stopping overnight twice along the way. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii

It’s been a little hectic around here since we got back.

Our story thus far:

  • Sarah flew down to Venice to meet up with our pal Rachel
  • Cliff drove down to Piombino Dese to pick them up at the train station and eat and sleep at Ca’ de Memi
  • The three of us drove to Siena and explored for a few days
  • Then we made our way to Rome, where we walked A LOT and ate a lot
  • After five days in Rome, planned a route through Gaeta, tried some tielle there, and braced ourselves for Neapolitan traffic

It. Was. Bad. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii