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Tuesday 18 July 2000

Ancona, Trattoria della Moretta, on the Piazza del Papa (what everyone here really calls the Piazza del Plebiscito, because of the statue of the Pope). Noon sharp, bells clanging nicely — more anon; first yesterday.

Woke up at 9:15! Of course I got to sleep at eleven, but still, that's ten hours of sleep; certainly am getting my sleep —

At risk of losing my day, set myself a program: lunch at the Cinese, then walk to Costacciaro; but then there was the gas bottle.

Despite repeated phoning, just no dice: impossible to get anyone and I've been four days without gas, which in turn means next to impossible to do dishes. I mentioned this to Paolo who saw me floating and phoning: he told me to hop in, we'd go look on the spot. Dubious about this — after all, when I arrived the Guerrieri and I had been down there to find the place closed — but as it turns out, luck and 41 ML got me a large bombola that ought to last me the rest of my stay, they all said. Back up to the Rocca, where Paolo had the wrenches and know-how so installed it for me; back down to the gas bottle store to drop off the empty: not in fact the same kind or size, but everything worked out fine.

"Dal Cinese" was OK; tagliatelle ai funghi porcini a bit oily, grilled lamb chops very good; very limited menu, basically nothing but house wine in carafes, OK. Near the door some bottles of other wine, oddly mostly from Puglia; the only one from Umbria was something from S. Martino in Colle (PG), 1979: suspected it might be well past its best, and indeed it was, quite maderized. The owners and a couple of relatives or friends were eating at a long table, but what they were having was quite finished (looked good: various kinds of pasta); a young man — the only one of the lot, mostly women and one old man — informed me that wines will maderize, and that Monte­falco is about 11½° (Adanti's is 13°), and finally that S. Martino in Colle — I was wondering where it was — was around Attigliano (which is deep in Terni province: I just let this guy bury himself. . .)

So, by a few minutes to three, took leave of Paolo and off to Costacciaro; except no sooner had I hit the Flaminia before Purello than Umberto popped out from behind me, heading towards Sigillo, and I accepted the ride: it's not like I haven't done this road before. Walk from Sigillo to Costacciaro without incident, and Costacciaro, well, hasn't changed a bit: even the scaffolding around S. Francesco is still in place two years later; quite disappointed I was, although the church is now open: some rather nice baroque altars, but nothing really much.

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Two of the 16c wooden altars in the side chapels of S. Francesco di Costacciaro.

Ruggiero Lupini, due to be back home here Sunday evening (per the people of the neighborhood, sitting in a dozen chairs at the corner of the via Boldrini) wasn't: [. . .] the people of Costacciaro put on a whole festa for the 2d edition of his book recently: which I knew from the Net, and I found the book — a bit helter-skelter all right, but now that I've had the time to read it in bed last night, a very human document that I'm glad to have in my library. So I walked around Costacciaro a bit spreading good wishes in the hope that when he gets back he'll hear of them from an American fan of his — and back to Fossato very slowly (the toe that looked like it'd been hit with a hammer, and hurt accordingly, much better, but the heel problem in the other foot has started up again); getting back, with perfect weather, sunny but cool, at about 8:20 just in time to watch the sun set rather flamboyantly from the Belvedere.

This morning, actually set the alarm for 6, and, mirabile dictu, even got up; target being the 0736 to Ancona, where I am now, still sitting at the Moretta, P.za del Plebiscito, 52 (tel. 071.202317, closed Sundays), which was recommended to me by a bookseller early this morning where I finally found the TCI Marche.

I spent the morning wandering Ancona, starting from Ancona Marittima — a siding lands you right down in the port area. Scaffolding everywhere, and utter catastrophe in the very piazza I'm in now: the idea was to redo the pavement for the Giubileo, but there were horrible problems of an unspecified nature, so that the work started in September is nowhere near finished, and the Piazza is utterly destroyed with consequent major losses to businesses on it. The caffé across the way is flying a huge home-made banner "Salvate la Piazza", and I can't imagine any tourist stopping here: if it hadn't been for the recommendation of good fish, I would have shuddered at the construction (occupying the entire piazza, surrounded with catwalks and fences) and kept right on going.

And indeed I've eaten quite well — the real reason for coming here was the fish I didn't get in Passignano — with an antipasto of mixed fish close to Il Lurido standards: "Delizie dell' Adriatico" included squid cooked in red wine, sea snails (of at least 3 species) in a spicy tomato sauce, fagioli with shrimp (an unusual mix but which works), a vol-au‑vent à la mousse de saumon, an unidentifiable vegetable pâté, a bit of roast fresh tuna with shallots and balsamic vinegar, and mussels and cockles marinière sort of. Brodetto all'Anconetana — the great regional specialty that I'd been waiting to pounce on, finally here: supposedly for 2 people, but I was hungry, and as I told the waiters, I was in no hurry: a sort of tomato bouillabaisse, actually more like a cacciuco livornese, quite good; still a bit hungry, went back one course and had the gnocchetti al ragù di mare in giallo (said to be saffron, but seemed more like turmeric; good). A zabaglione mousse with chocolate sauce and maraschino sprinkled with bits of torrone; coffee, Amaro del Pescatore (product of Ancona), fairly distinctive. Wine: verdicchio di Matelica, fine.

A bit of Calvados (Busnel) and the bill (104 ML) and will soon be moseying down to the station, now that I've seen the Roman amphitheatre ha‑ha (huge messy hole surrounded by construction engineers and fences). . . . large meal again, but as the vacationing couple from Bologna I chatted with said, "Sacco vuoto non sta in piedi" — convenient aphorism —

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