So there was a Kiwi, an Icelander, an Italian and an Alaskan on a train (day 364)

Pasticciotto is magical. No, I am not referring to the local pastry that gives the tournament its name (although they are pretty tasty as well). Pasticiotto is a spectacular Ultimate tournament held in Torre del’Orso (on the heel of the boot) the week after the World Beach Ultimate Championships in Rimini.

And I should know. Because I went. Just the other day, actually.

Sure it bends some of the basic rules for Ultimate tournaments. The fields are smaller than regulation size. They are not free of obstacles (players constantly stop to throw bits of rubble or broken glass off the pitch), nor flat (with big drop offs on one sideline on the first day). And the sidelines are not very straight either (and the strips of tape that mark them have to be frequently repositioned.).

Pasticciotto is a three-day party, wrapped around an Ultimate tournament. You play two games a day, for 40 minutes each, not starting till after 1 in the afternoon. Ultimate is the original excuse, but not the primary reason, for coming here.

I can not even begin to describe it. Come and feel it for yourself. The way the locals get into the tournament is amazing. The parties in the main square, the condo living, the endless Limoncello on Saturday night, the (almost) flawless weather, the incredible staff at the local cafe, the sideline at the finals (congratulations Red team), the dawn awards. Ah. What stories I could tell.

Those of you who know about such things will be pleased to hear that many of those things that make Ultimate parties great in New Zealand were part of the tradition at Pasticciotto 2002. If I manage to make it back next year, well, we shall see.

Now I am on a train to Genoa (whence came Christopher Columbus, there go I). From there I am catching a plane to London to look for a job.

Yep, you read it right. Alert readers will have noticed that it is Day 364. Just one left till my year is up. My finances have long since stopped being financial. “Desperate” might be a better description. I have yet to figure out what I think of this year on holiday thing. Still, plenty of time yet.

I spent yesterday damply sightseeing in Rome. I came north from the tournament with an Icelander (the first one I have ever met – how exciting, not that she was really so different from other people I have met, at least not obviously), an Alaskan (although he lives in Virginia now), and an Italian (who is living, perhaps for not much longer, in Oxford). See how the world comes closer together.

And speaking of closer together, I think that great strides in international relations could be made if diplomats were required to travel together in Italian train carriages with their fellow ambassadors, instead of separately in great big airplanes. We certainly forged new links across nations in our train carriage.

Italian cabins on trains have seats for six (two rows of three facing each other). The seats fold down pretty flat to make space for three to sleep happily, and four to squeeze in. All was good for us four, ready to sleep for the eight hours north. Imagine our dismay when two more people came in (you can fit in six, you see) and decided to sit opposite each other in the two seats closest the door.

Suddenly, what was three beds for four, became two beds for four. And we had to put up with the noise from the headphones of one of the newcomers. I can only assume that he was stone deaf from the volume at which he was playing his music. Or that he soon will be.

I seem to have lost more things on this trip to Italy than on any previous segment of my year on holiday. Not quite sure why that is. But my watch, my thumb ring, and a fleece that I borrowed from someone else (sorry Chris) are all missing, presumed stolen or lost in the sand. I only just managed to get my running shoes back (after leaving them in someone’s car for a week), and my portable seat has been thrown away, sad to say. Someone borrowed my pocket knife and has run away with it to the US (although I hope yet to get it back, unless perhaps she tries to carry it in her hand luggage on the plane). And to top it all off, my compass does not work anymore (as demonstrated in Pompeii). If I knew a bit more about magnetism, I might be able to repair it. I should have paid more attention in physics class.

On the plus side, I have picked up a t-shirt (with a big alien on it) and a jacket (black, but sans alien). I guess in the overall balance of things I am not doing too badly. If I were inclined to try to learn from my life experiences I might think that I should try to take better care of my possessions. Particularly since I have so few of them. But, it seems, having fewer things does not make me inclined to take better care of the ones I do have. Sad to say.