13 September 2007

English speakers in Ascoli Piceno

E Sua cognome Schneider?” I was in the biblioteca last week to post a sign on the billboard offering to give English lessons and had asked to make sure this was allowed. The man at the desk presented me with this question and I gave him a surprised look as he certainly did not look familiar to me. He explained in broken English that he has been corresponding via email with distant relatives in the Philadelphia area and that they directed him to this blog; he had recognized me from my photo. He said he enjoyed reading an American’s view on life in Ascoli Piceno.

This encounter is a good example of some of the interactions we have had with English speaking people here in Ascoli Piceno with a foreign connection. This summer I was at Pasticceria Guido when a man came in who definitely looked like a foreigner. He did his best to ask Assunta, the barista, where he could buy a hand fan for his wife. Assunta gave me a puzzled look as she did not understand his English, so I asked him if I could help give him directions. After talking a little he explained that he and his wife had been using the notes Valerie wrote for SlowTrav.com to see the sights in and around Ascoli Piceno.

There are a few English speaking foreigners residing here in Ascoli Piceno but you usually have to search to find them. The University of New Hampshire has a program based here and earlier this year we had the opportunity to spend some time with Mara and her husband, Peter, who were here for six months while Mara was teaching. We have met up with others from the school, including Jesse who found Valerie’s blog and wrote to her before arriving this summer. Jesse appreciated the information that we could provide, in English, about Ascoli Piceno. We have also met the department head for this school year’s program, Piero, his wife Karen who, along with their three kids are here for the entire year. Their kids are much more fluent in Italian than we are.

Unity College from Maine has had a periodic program here and we met Diane from that program. She had returned to Ascoli for most of the summer break. Diane’s passion is research on Cecco, Ascoli Piceno’s famous medieval poet, and she is has a wealth of knowledge on the background of this region.

Thomas and his wife, Romina, from B&B Torretta Bianca found our blogs and we have visited them at their place in the hills above San Benedetto del Tronto. Thomas is an American with a passion for college football to match my own and Romina is native to this area.

Then there is the local British contingent. We have met Jane and Howard who spend several months at their home in the centro storico when they are not back in England and they are always a pleasure to chat with over a glass of wine. Colin is another retired Brit who lives here full-time. The mother of one of my classmates from language school last summer also lives here full time and we see her periodically on her bicycle. We may speak the same language but it is always interesting to compare the differences and similarities between England and the United States with all of them.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bryan! The librarian that you mention in your blog is our distant cousin Nunzio and my father in Philadelphia has been corresponding with him. It's true what they say about 6 degrees of separation! Best of luck to you and your wife in Ascoli. I grew up hearing about it from my grandmother and plan to visit the area soon. You're blog is now in my favorites :)


Bryan said...

That is funny how people can be linked, even across the ocean. Nunzio was very kind and I have since seen him with his wife on the street.

Anonymous said...

I am an American from North Carolina and am trying to get copies of my Greatgrandparents birth certificates. He is from Ascoli Piceno and she from Acquasanta Terme. I have mailed requests for the documents to the communes, but I understand this takes forever and sometimes they do not look hard enough. I know the specific dates and her maiden name (DeSantis).
My question is-do you know anyone who I could hire to go down and conduct a search for the records in person? (Maybe the librarian you reference in the prior post, a student or a friend)
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Amanda in NC

Anonymous said...

I am in Grottammare now on my honeymoon. My husband is from here and I will be moving here for good next year. Is there some place English speakers meet or hang out. I would like to be able to make friends and meet people without my husband always having to translate the words in Italian I do not know. Thanks!

Bryan said...


Most of the people we hang out with are Italians, best way to improve the language skills. I don't know of any "groups" along the coast but I would think you'd have lots of options this time of year with all the foreigners at the beaches.