Sunday, May 15, 2011

The peaceful village of Zagarolo

The countryside

Today I got up early to walk along the road by the house. I've done so many times before in the afternoon or evening, when there is usually traffic and activity from cars, dogs, tractors, etc. This morning it was more peaceful, and I even encountered several other women walking for exercise.

Around here, homes are all gated and often obscured from view, but beyond the homes there are vineyards, hills, and a few open fields. A few things that mar the walking experience are the whizzing cars that don't swerve around you (it seems they expect you to get out of their way, and sometimes pass by with only a few inches to spare), and the proliferance of large dogs, which seem to be the alarm system most often used in these parts. The dogs are usually behind gates, but they bark when anyone walks by, and some of them appear vicious.

The street I walk runs north and south (sort of), and the hills are to the east and west (or thereabouts). Directions are a little skewed here, as nothing seems to be laid out in a direct line like we're used to at home.

A view of the green hills surrounding Zagarolo

A peaceful village

Later, I drove the winding road into Zagarolo, an activity I'm beginning to enjoy. The roads are narrow, but there's little traffic, and it's a pleasant journey into the village. Two small Italian cars barely fit on the narrow road, and there's no shoulder to provide leeway, so if you come upon a tractor or cyclists, there's an art to passing them with finesse. I enjoy the challenge! To and fro, up and down, so goes the road into Zagarolo.

The road coming into Zagarolo

Along the road, every house has its own vineyard, its own olive orchard. The hills are covered with the new growth of grapevines, and it's a lovely sight. Sometimes I can hardly believe I am here! Several years ago I had a vision, a hope of living near a small Italian village, but no real understanding of how it might be possible to bring that vision to life. Ma piano, piano (but slowly), it's come about, and here I am, living the dream.

Il vigneto, the vineyard: a common sight in these parts

In Zagarolo, I stop to buy gas, 10 - 20 euros at a time. Gas is sold by the liter here, and for 20 euros I can get about 12.5 liters, or 3.3 gallons. That means gas costs @ $9 per gallon in Italy. And you thought prices were high in the U.S.! People often buy a few liters at a time and try to make the most of it.

After that, I park the car and walk to the Bancomat and withdraw money to last the next few weeks. I don't need much, as my only real expenses are food and gas, and I earn 40 euros/week helping two women practice their English. I stroll down the main street of Zagarolo, which you can also do by going to Google maps, typing in Zagarolo, Italy, and choosing the street view (click on the yellow man). With a little bit of playing around, you will find yourself on Via Fabrini, or Borgo San Martino, the very streets that I walk along in the sleepy village atop the tufa hill.

I stop in for a cappuccino at Paola's bar, then continue down the street to Porta San Martino, which serves as a gate at one end of town. Then I turn around and walk back the same way, taking time to explore some of the side vicoli (alleys). The anziani zagarolesi (elderly citizens) sit together on new wooden benches that line the street, chatting. Young mothers pass by with their babies in strollers, often speaking into a cell phone as they go.

Porta San Martino and the street beyond, Borgo San Martino

In one of the piazzas, I come upon a smaller open market, with a display of vegetables and fruit for sale. Across the way, a man sells fresh fish from his portable stall. I notice a poster that advertises an addition to the weekly Saturday market: starting on Sunday there will be a weekly market of cibo artigianale (traditional, home grown or homemade food) from Rome. There is also a festival of some kind scheduled this Sunday, so I'm sure to be in Zagarolo most of the day to check things out.

Laundry day

Speaking of artigianale, I stop in for homemade gelato, trying a small cone of melon and amarena cherry (a sour cherry). Squisito! (Yummy!) All too soon, I'm back at the car, and heading on to Palestrina to fare la spesa (do the shopping.) Ah, Zagarolo, a me piace molto! (I really like it!)

No comments: