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Ancona – Day 3

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This morning I managed to get up on time (i.e. 6:30), have breakfast, and leave the boat. It’s actually a little bit of a shame, because I’d have liked to have spent a bit more time on and around the boat, but it’s just too far away from the main town. I guess I should bear this in mind for future trips–always make sure your accommodation is reasonably well connected.

My crazy walk, as I call it, from the Marina Dorica to the town centre, is in three parts: the first, you walk by the main road for a bit before a moderately dangerous crossing over to the other side; second, you walk through a dodgy-looking alleyway that leads to a car park and railway infrastructure area; third, you walk through a narrow footpath along a flyover that leads into town. The walk takes about 45 minutes or so. It’s insane.

I first headed to the Mole Vanvitelliana (the giant pentagonal building), and bought a ticket for the Ancona Flower Show (it’s actually called that, in English). There was still half an hour to go before it opened, so instead of waiting around, I decided I would go to the Parco del Cardeto and have a walk there. The park is just along the eastern coast of Ancona and has beautiful views across the Adriatic. I also saw the 19th century lighthouse (the Faro), the old Jewish Cemetery (Campo degli Ebrei), as well as the English Cemetery (Cimitero degli Inglesi, which was closed)–I wonder why there is one here; probably related to the Second World War.

I headed back west, and stopped off at Piazza Roma for another panino al prosicutto, before going to the Mole to see the Ancona Flower Show. Now, Chelsea doesn’t need to worry about any competition here! It was very small, maybe around 20 exhibitors or so in the centre of the pentagonal building. It was still really nice though, and I enjoyed spending a few hours milling around the plants and other wares on sale. I was very tempted to buy a nice bonsai tree that cost just €12. Unfortunately, its container was heavy, and I didn’t want to be dragging around town all day and then again tomorrow to the railway station. That’s another problem (or advantage, possibly!) of having your accommodation far away from the shops–you can’t do any substantial shopping!

While at the flower show, I went to one of the stalls that was selling refreshments. Waiting for my ‘turn’ only served to confirm the old stereotype of Italians being completely unable to queue. It is the height of frustration to be standing around for a ridiculous amount of time when it is entirely unclear when you will be served, or whether the person who has just hovered next to you has actually just jumped the ‘queue’. Grrr…

While I was waiting, a lady behind me said there was something on my shoulder–some soil, apparently–before taking it upon herself to vigorously rub it off. For the life of me I cannot imagine this happening in London. 🙂

There was also a stand selling stoneware made in the Marche, and I was very taken by a roasting tray shaped like a pig. It had a lid which fit into the top to completely seal the meat inside, and the steam would come out through two holes in the pig’s nose. Brilliant! I’m sure it would have made some delicious, juicy roasts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think how I could transport it back without getting it smashed in the process. Instead, I bought a small stoneware pan, which is just the right size to make an omelette. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Back at the Piazza Roma–fast becoming my ‘base’–I bought a fantastic ice cream cone, with both vanilla and chocolate biscuit (yep, that’s right!) flavoured gelato, a spot of cream on stop, and a wafer. It was brilliant, and, check this, only €2. There’s no way you could get anything similar for that price and quality in the UK.

My next destination was to go and see the Arch of Trajan (which I’d thought I’d seen the other day, but actually hadn’t!), all the way up on the tip of Ancona. Afterwards, I wondered if I should head off to the Cornero Riviera or one of the beaches to the north. I slightly regret not going, but I was concerned at getting back to the boat early enough to pack and get some decent sleep before going to the airport tomorrow. With hindsight, I think I could have made it, but hey, there’s always next time. Instead, I decided to head further south and explore some of the other piazzas. I think I’ve covered quite a bit of Ancona!

At one point, I milled around looking for some public toilets, which proved a fruitless exercise. I could vaguely remember seeing a WC sign on one of those steep roads, but couldn’t remember which. I eventually went to Piazza del Papa and slipped in to one of the bars there. Ah yes, I’d been planning on having a nice sit-down dinner at one of the restaurants in this piazza, but it turned out that these places are bars, not restaurants, and the only food they serve are tapas-style things. I was looking for a proper dinner. It doesn’t actually seem like Ancona has much in the way of good restaurants, at least not any that I’ve seen. There are a few small pizzerias tucked away in some side streets, but hardly the sort of place you want to go for a relaxing meal on the last day of your trip. I also haven’t seen much of what I’d call the ‘café culture’ of some other Italian cities. Sure, there are cafes and people in them, but they aren’t as noticeable and widespread as in other places. At least that’s my observation from a few days here.

I decided to sit down at one of outside tables of the bars in Piazza del Papa and see what kind of food they served. At least I could have a glass of wine before moving on somewhere else. The waitress came up and asked me if I was being served, and I said that I was waiting for the menu. Well, I waited and waited. She came and went, and served everyone else who arrived. This sort of thing irritates me no end, and I eventually got up and left after being completely ignored for around twenty minutes. You might wonder why I didn’t just get her attention, but surely it’s her job to see who is sitting at the tables and make sure they get served.

Feeling really cheesed off, I headed back to Piazza Roma and to the place where I’d earlier bought the ice cream. They serve food as well, though the atmosphere felt more like that of a canteen than a restaurant. Feeling like I deserved to indulge myself after a day on my feet, I ordered my favourite pizza, the Diavola, some chips, seasonal vegetables, and a glass of wine. The pizza was actually really good, with large salami pieces, much better than the last one of the same kind that I’d had in a so-called authentic Italian place in London. Of course, the pizza was giant, as was the plate of chips, and there was no way I was going to be finishing them both! By the time, I finished the wine, I was full up and had to skip the tiramisu. Finishing off with an espresso, I headed off back to the boat.

It was by now just past ten o’clock, dark, and a just a bit chilly. The crazy walk went OK, and I arrived back just before eleven.

Now I need to get a few hours’ sleep before getting up around 5am to pack and walk to the railway station. Hopefully, there will be some obvious way of getting from there to the airport on time.

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