Friday, January 16, 2009

It's been a while...

I think I recognize this place, I was here about a month ago. But it seems like an awfully long time ago, during which rather a lot has taken place.

First there was Christmas, enjoyed with 3 other English and Italian families, and then the trip to a bitterly cold Germany for an enjoyable family time and social New Year's celebration. Even though Maria did most of the driving (not least because we went in her car), and it's entirely on 2/3-lane highways (i.e. it's not complicated driving), I must say it's a long 1,060 km journey up there and back - 12 hours each way, thanks to traffic buildup in a few places - and doing it 3 times a year as Maria did in 2008 would be daunting for me. But it's no surprise that she did, the option to be able to hop in a car at short notice to go and see her aging parents being one of the motivators to move here in the first place - not so easy when you're 3 expensive flights and an ocean away as we were in North Carolina.

Then - as it has been for the last 13 years and will always be the case - just a week after the seasonal festivities were eking their last (January 6th - Epiphany or La Befana in Italy - is a big holiday here), HRH's birthday was upon us (on January 8th). This year was different, though - he officially became a teenager, even though he's been practicing at it unofficially for some time. Pretty low key, all in all, despite the momentous milestone that it was. Even our ruse to take him out of school for the day in order to give him his first skiing experience was scuppered - it was a total white-out up at our local ski resort, Sassotetto, and we had to "resort" to sledding blind down the deserted ski slopes - visibility was less than 10m. (There are a couple of photos on my Facebook page of the new towering teenager.)

But these aren't the reasons for the delay in keeping this blog up to date. It's rather the fault of a new initiative I've started with an English friend here - a monthly magazine in English about life and events in our province, Macerata. With modest initial intentions, we started with an email transmission to a list we developed from our own contacts, and after two months it's grown organically by about 50%. Feedback has been positive, and we're now looking at approaching advertisers, and indeed have been approached by one or two already. So far so good.

But it takes an awful amount of time, hence my absence from this place. One of the most frustrating parts of it is dealing with the local municipalities (comuni), who we're fairly reliant upon for the events (festivals, music and dance performances, etc) that form a core part of the magazine's motivation. Our first edition had a rather inauspicious start, at least as far as Tolentino and Sarnano were concerned - we received Tolentino's listing of December events on the 12th (of December), and Sarnano's on the 16th! The magazine goes out on the first of the month, as it should do to be useful for the month in question. I must have made over a dozen calls to my contact in Tolentino, every one of which yielded a promise to get me the info "the next day", and two personal visits to my Sarnano contact produced that quintessential Italian gesture that I've now become so familiar with - the shrug of the shoulders.

But on we tread. And it feels good. Not having had a consistent, ongoing "job" for a while, and finding the adjustment from employed to self-employed to be a real "learning" experience, having monthly deadlines is actually rather refreshing.

Not to mention, of course, the fact that I'm in charge of the monthly wine column, which entails visits to all the wineries in the province ...

(If anyone's interested in receiving a copy of Macerata Monthly, send me an email at So far we're simply sending out a PDF copy by email. We'll probably post them online at some point in the future, but I'm not sure when. As I said, it's a modest beginning...)