Karen Hanratty è la nostra nuova "reporter" delle Marche. Inglese, ha viaggiato e lavorato per molti anni in Asia e ora ha deciso di stabilirsi definitivamente nella nostra regione che ha eletto come sua seconda patria. Risiede in una casa di campagna tra Cingoli e San Severino.
After 20 years living and working abroad, my husband and I have at last returned to the place that, although not Italian ourselves, we have come to see as home – Le Marche. Our journey began more than 10 years ago, when we realised we would ultimately need to stop travelling and settle down somewhere, but both feeling quite sure that returning to UK full time was not our preferred option.
There were many, many possibilities and places that took our fancy, but Italy soon presented itself as a very favourable option. There is so much about the country that we admire – music, art, culture, food, architecture, the list goes on.
We came across Le Marche almost by accident and were immediately captivated by its beautiful landscape, hilltop towns and dramatic coastline. After a long search we finally found our dream home in the countryside between Cingoli and San Severino. With beautiful views across the valley the house had endless potential but also needed a lot of commitment and time to turn it into a comfortable home. When we signed for it in the Notaio’s office it was little more than a shell on an overgrown hilltop! Two years passed in a haze of drawings, plans, permissions from the Commune, materials, builders, machinery and long-haul visits to see the work as it progressed. I’m no artist, but I could compare the satisfaction of watching ideas take shape with the joy of working on a blank canvas to produce a work of art.
For several years, because of work commitments, we have only been able to use the house as an occasional holiday home, but now at last we are here on a semi-permanent basis and getting to grips with country living Italian style. Language is going to be a challenge for us, especially as we find so many Italians speak rather quickly and make few concessions to slow learning foreigners like ourselves. However, we have become avid viewers of Italian soap-opera which is helping us become fluent in matters of love, death, passion and intrigue, though not so useful when trying to negotiate a bargain in the market!
The neighbours that we met 10 years ago initially overwhelmed me with the warmth of their welcome and willingness to help in so many small ways. They have continued to provide companionship and support as well as practical things such as the phone number of the local chimney sweep. Marchigiani people offer an interesting reflection of recent changes in human demographics. The younger generation, like many youngsters around the world, are keen to broaden their horizons, explore new possibilities and find gainful employment. For many that means leaving the area of their birth and family history and relocating to larger towns and cities either in the region or further afield. The older generation however, still value and have a huge respect for the traditions of their youth. They are knowledgeable about their region’s history and hold it in high regard, as witnessed by the many historical re-enactments held in towns across the region each year. They remain in the villages and in many cases the homes of their birth. They still live by the rhythm and progress of the seasons. They are not resistant to change but do not see it as a necessary part of their own existence. One farmer we know, now 80 years old, is still working the land daily and keen to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The land has been his life and he cannot imagine a life without that. One of our neighbours, although relocated to the city for reasons of employment, keeps on the house here that she was born in and visits as often as possible. Marchigiani people are hopeful and spirited, have a passion for their homeland and are intent on seeing that it does not lose its identity in these changing times.
Over the coming months I am looking forward to watching the changing of the seasons after only having witnessed the height of summer and depths of winter previously. I am keen to improve my Italian and to get to know more about and become a part of this wonderful community that has made us so welcome. I shall let you know how we get on….