We set off round the mountains to get to Castel del Monte, one of the most beautiful villages in Abruzzo. There was a slight hidden agenda on my part. My quest to meet George Clooney in person. However, I had forgotten that in Italy this weekend is a long bank holiday due to All Souls' Day.
We got to an eerily quiet Castel del Monte 50 minutes after setting off from home. Only 10 miles away as the crow flies, but you have to drive up and down and over mountains and encounter a lot of perilous hairpin bends. Why was the village so quiet? Where was everybody? Where was George? The evidence that a film was being shot in the village was all over the place. Lorry after lorry of cinema/tv production sets were parked up in the centre. Where was the buzz of the international film crew?
Lots of notices everywhere informing the villagers that 200 camera crew plus 500 extras would be invading the small mountain village from 15th October to end of November. The whole village to be transformed into a film set. Ok, so where were the villagers and the 700 extra American and international crew? K and I seemed to be the only people wandering through the bitterly cold streets......
A prominant notice made my heart sink. The filming of "The American" would recommence on Monday 2nd November. I grabbed a local and asked" Do you know if Mr Clooney is here? "Oh no, my dear. He left yesterday and he'll be back tomorrow". End of dream.
A bit of Local Gossip
Not one to be disheartened so easily, I accepted this and hit a local bar and B&B called "Osteria del Lupo", where I drowned my sorrows with 2 lovely glasses of Abruzzo wine and 2 lots of absolutely delicious homemade bread drizzled in fresh olive oil. I spoke to Stefano, the barman and son of the owner and asked him about his feelings on the effect of the film on the village as a whole. He told me it was a fantastic thing and it was doing wonders for the local economy. He told me Mr Clooney had integrated with the locals and that he was very friendly and amenable. Two weeks had already passed and everyone had accepted the temporary disruption to their daily life with great patience and understanding. A lot of the locals had been cast as extras. It was interesting chatting to Stefano and the bar was very lively and atmospheric. Tomorrow evening, scenes of the film will be shot right in front of the bar so I guess the bar will become very famous! Thank you Stefano for making us feel so welcome!
Halloween: "Miss Strega" Contest
Having viewed the information on the Internet about the yearly "Miss Strga" (Miss Witch") pageant held in the centre of the village, we left the cosy bar in search of the venue. We were informed that due to the sudden very cold weather, the event would now be held in the local sports hall. When we arrived, we found all the local villagers waiting for the children to do a "Halloween" parade. A jury would be present, to vote for the best costume. The hall was beautifully and spookily decked out and children all dressed up in wonderful costumes. We stayed for a while and then decided to make our way home after a most interesting evening.