August 28, 2007 The temperatures here are on the downswing and Sarnano is full of Romans escaping their hot city for a few days. To entertain the invaders as well as the locals, the bumper cars are back for the younger set and live (and loud) concerts by local popular artists are being presented most evenings in the upper piazza. Even the Cinema next door has reopened for the season after being shuttered for over a year. I might be tempted to take in a movie or two if they started at a decent hour (one showing a day, beginning at 9:30 p.m.). Also it would nice if they would play the movies in the original language. But no, the Italians dub everything, I guess because most of them are too lazy to read subtitles.
As I have mentioned in previous postings, the Sarnanese do enjoy their summer parades. One of the strangest, to be sure, consisted of vintage tractors. Sunday morning I heard this racket and looked out and here came a procession of some 20 – 30 slow moving tractors, some looking to date back before WW II. As near as I could tell, that was all to the show–no bunting, no decorations, nothing but old tractors with equally old contadine driving them.
Most of the small towns in the area are also offering various summer entertainments. I see posters inviting one and all to the Festa della Birra in Mogliano, or the Sagra degli Gnochi in Poggio San Costanzo. Helotes (a suburb of San Antonio for you non-Texans) and its Cornyval is matched in spirit and theme by nearby Serrapetrona’s Sagra de lù Scartocciu (local dialect for corn on the cob.)
The biggest Sarnano news is the reopening of the Hotel Terme. This centrally located hotel has been closed since before I moved here three years ago. Apparently the owners got old and tired of running it and the heirs wanted no part of the hotel business. So it sat there, empty, in an absolutely primo location for a hotel. I haven’t been inside to see any of the newly refurbished rooms since, predictably, the hotel has been filled to the brim since it reopened and will remain so until the end of August.
On tour news, I am one person short of a minimum number for the upcoming Abruzzo & Croatia tour. It’s not that recruiting has gone badly–14 is not too shabby for two new destinations–and I am going to run the tour no matter what. But by dropping under 15, we crossed a threshold that requires me to pay 80 euro more per person, a fee that I will need to pass on to the group. If you have watched CNN International you have undoubtedly seen the ads placed by the Croatian Tourist Board. I’m here to tell you that Croatia is truly that beautiful. This situation reminds me of another emerging country ten years ago, Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic. I put together a wonderful tour which included not only Prague, but Czesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary. I threw in the towel when only six people signed up. I was able to sell Prague three times, as long as I included other destinations. Now, no exaggeration, I get queries at least once a month of “when are you going to Prague and Czech Republic, I hear it is beautiful.” But at this point, I am offering Croatia. See it now before it becomes thoroughly Starbucked, KFCed and McDonaldized. You won’t regret your decision.
I hope your summer is winding down nicely. I will send out my short tour update note fairly soon, including news of the long-awaited Wales trip next summer. (back)