The Italian Job - a holiday for two to Amandola
I’d never heard of Amandola before my best friend visited there. I certainly didn’t have any plans to visit it, no matter how picturesque it sounded. There are plenty of places on my ‘must visit’ list, and in Italy this would include Rome and Venice.
Yet here I am, writing this on a (delayed) Ryanair flight home from Ancona, having spent the past few days with Mrs DannyUK in Amandola.
Tasha got married out there.
Tasha, you may remember, is my best friend and co-host of the WafflePod podcast.
It made sense to tie in a few extra days to make the wedding trip into a holiday for us both. Arriving on Saturday on the once-daily flight from Stansted which left at 6.30am and got in just over a couple of hours later, we had a long weekend to ourselves before setting Tuesday aside to see our friends marry.
Staying in a small B&B in a mountain which was a 10-minute drive from the centre of Amandola (and nine and a half minutes drive from the edge of the town, such is the minuscule size of it), it sounds like a perfect getaway.
The downside is the distance from the airport. Roughly 100km or so, or an hour and a half by car which is doable, though both Mrs DannyUK and I get horrendously travel sick if we aren’t driving, meaning we both shared the suffering during our stay.
On heading out, I’d found myself singing “is this the way to Amandola” in an Amarillo-style, only to find once we’d got there that we had mispronounced it the entire time and it was, in fact, pronounced “Amanda-la”.
With a wedding party full guests from Essex, the guttural pronunciation still doesn’t sound right to me.
The wedding itself was a fairly simple affair. The bride looked stunning, the groom equally so, and the ceremony took place in the local town hall.
Originally planned to take place in the local theatre, the venue was moved following an earthquake 4 weeks or so before the ceremony.
The local mayor officiated the occasion, summing it up quite simply as “the first sunshine the town has had in a month” which is as nice a way to describe it as it’s possible to.
Gran Caffe Belli
We then stopped at the Gran Caffe Belli next door, which had by now become a regular haunt for us, with beer and wine flowing as well as the best cappuccino I’ve tasted abroad.
The celebrations continued into the night with an evening do further down the road at a local restaurant.
The town is so quaint that the bride was stopped and spoken to by many locals, including the local fire brigade who took turns having their photo taken with the bride before capturing a few shots of the happy couple in the fire engine itself. Photos which, I am told, are offset by a serious-looking elderly fireman sat alongside the newly married pair, gripping the wheel of the stationary vehicle.
The day itself was a perfect wedding day. Beautiful weather, stunning surroundings, a happy couple and all of their close friends and relatives.
Would I return to Amandola? Hmmm. Personally, probably not. The fact that it’s so far from the airport doesn’t appeal to me at all, though it has to be said that the remoteness of the town and the generally peace and quiet was lovely.
Country House la Querceta Di Marnacchia
We stayed at The Country House la Querceta Di Marnacchia, which is on top of the Marnacchia hill and a few miles away from Amandola. The remote location meant that it was perfectly quiet most of the time, barring when the local goats were being herded up, and the sound of goat bells rang through the air.
It also meant that getting anywhere needed a vehicle, so if you’re going, make sure to hire a car.
The fact that it’s so far from the airport doesn’t appeal to me at all, though it has to be said that the remoteness of the town and the generally peace and quiet was lovely.
I don’t recall any bad weather in the five days that we were there, either. (Mrs DannyUK is reading this over my shoulder and has chimed in happily that she was able to wear her bikini every single day)
Piazza del Popolo - Ascoli, Piceno
We had taken a day out to go exploring, making our way to the Piazza del Popolo (Square of the people, in case you wondered), which was a stunning open square surrounded by beautiful churches and landscape in Ascoli, Piceno.
It was a 45-minute drive, but well worth it for a change of scenery.
Had the pair of us been better travellers, I think we would have made the effort to travel to more places and taken in more of the surroundings.
As it was, the ten minute trip to town was enough, and I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the Gran Bella Cafe now (and also for their Illy coffee).
The biggest annoyances on the trip? (because there will always be something):
1) Italian driving. Never has a white line painted on a stretch of road meant so little to anyone than in Italy. It’s not so much “your” side of the road as it is “ours”.
2) Parking fines. Ourselves and the parents of the bride both fell foul of the unclear parking regulations, resulting in a €27 fine each.
3) Ryanair’s timekeeping. It’s on par with a watch you’d buy from Trotter’s Independent Traders. I just hope they never win a contract to run a trainline in the UK.
4) Insects. I’m not a great fan of the sun, as my bottle-white legs will attest, but for the two hours that I chose to wear shorts on the trip, I got bitten to death.
As we fly back, I’ll hold fond memories of Amandola, though it would be pushing the truth to say that I’d left a piece of me behind.
Unlike the bride and groom who missed their flight home due to leaving their passport at their villa and not realising until they got to the airport!