Thursday, May 03, 2007

Froggers Unite!

I mentioned this in a Macerata Monday from a couple of weeks back, and I promised I would blog about it, so here I am, a little bit late (big surprise!). A couple of weekends back, Antonello and I were lucky enough to get the chance to meet fellow blogger Rowena right here in Le Marche, up near Urbino and Pesaro. She had mentioned the Palio delle Rane before in her blog, and this year she and her husband were planning to come down to find out for themselves what all of the commotion was about. We were more than happy to hop in and participate as well.

The event didn't start until the early evening, so Antonello and I went wandering a bit: from the quaint town of Fossombrone and its high-up castle to the Gola del Furlo, one of Northern Le Marche's most splendid natural wonders, a sort of chasm/canyon whose gleaming blue cuts through the mountains. After that, it was off to Fermignano for the frog races!

After walking through the town's renaissance-style parade, we eventually found Rowena, her husband, and their famous budding star, Maddie, in the crowds watching the events. There were flying hawks, fire-breathers, and plenty of dancers. Finally they brought the frogs out for their medical exams (a veterinarian was there, making sure the frogs were healthy), and the excitement was about to begin!

The history of the Palio is here, and while it never really seems to explain just WHY frogs were used (and how they thought up placing these frogs on little wheel-barrows and running with them until the finish line, or until the frog jumps off, face first into the crowd, hopping away into freedom) is unclear, but the result was pure delirious fun. Watching kids and adults racing alike, dressed from head to toe in renaissance costume, running after their frogs, was unbeatable. Rowena and I snapped through loads of pictures, and it still didn't feel like enough! Rowena even filmed a little segment, capturing the froggies in action as they hopped away from their wheelbarrows. Check out Rowena's coverage of the event here.

After an evening of frog watching, we headed to a nearby town for a lovely Slow Food dinner. We were the only ones in the restaurant, and the four of us chatted away, while Maddie waited patiently at the foot of the table. By the time dinner was over, it was later than we had expected. Our upcoming drive home was nothing in comparison to Rowena's, but at least they had the night to rest up! We said our goodbyes, hoping to all meet up again. Upcoming frog races perhaps? Other various festivals? Who knows--Italy has so many festivities that it seems like the possibilities are endless.


Update: More photos of the fun on Flickr! Check them out!

Stranded at Home and Thinking

Today was SUPPOSED to be a busy afternoon at work, with English lessons lined up all evening and plenty of present perfect and past continuous to keep me busy until nine at night, but my schedule was changed up a bit with a couple of cancellations, and I am home for a couple of hours, awaiting a 7 pm lesson, not sure what to do with myself.

I know, I know, I shouldn't be complaining about an afternoon off. I guess it's the way it all happened: one lesson was cancelled yesterday afternoon for good reason, and that's no problem, but the other lesson involved a telephone call from a very persistent mother whose son just started lessons last week and apparently didn't inform her about when the lessons would be (one having been scheduled for this evening). When I picked up the phone, she immediately said something to the effect of: "This is so and so, and my son can't have lessons except for on Wednesdays and Fridays. So clear up your schedule." Umm....right. Anyway, I normally don't complain about work on the blog, but this case was exceptional--come to think of it, I've been having a lot of exceptional cases lately. I guess that makes them normal again. My normal, confused, unorganized life as an English teacher.

So, getting back to the point, I found myself in front of the computer, checking out fellow bloggers, and I stumbled across an award I'd been given by Cyndi over at her blog Reboot, A New Life in Italy, and it said that Allora Aspetta deserved the Thinking Blog Award for excellence in photography (and best musical score?). And I thought, "Holy Smokes! I've joined Infrequent Bloggers Anonymous as a result of how little I've been blogging lately, and here little Allora Aspetta gets blessed with an AWARD? A photography award no less!" Wow. Thank you! I have a list of people to thank here somewhere... But seriously, I have no good excuses (besides work, excercise, cleaning house, --scratch those! I said NO good excuses!) for being such a bad blogger lately. Still, the award is greatly appreciated. It was a little push for me to get back into the blogo-sphere. And hopefully it will work!

And here I am again, trying not to turn this into another segway into the NEXT blog entry, which undoubtably won't get written for months...but it WILL! in fact, I'm off to write more now, and get some photos of those blessed froggers from three weeks ago up and all over the screen. Hey, Allora Aspetta won a thinking photography award, what do you want--no more pictures? :)

Thanks again to Cyndi for the award! Yippee yay!


Monday, April 30, 2007

up and running

sorry about the delays with blogging lately. corrie and i have been having technical difficulties, but we should be back and blogging soon...thanks for your patience!