Miles of balafon in your own back garden

All Italian cities have Balafon-free streets and very little sunshine – this is no excuse to pretend you’ve left the snow behind and ventured to a sun-filled beach, but rather a proposal: for a few evenings, stroll around, catching the rays if you’ll excuse the English expression. Please note that local customs mean women will be out from a little after 10pm to around 9am and men, much later.

There are even Balafon-free cinemas, with their special screens for those who want to overlook the weather. Chianti supermarkets in many Italian towns sell special Balafon-free liqueurs, called Onyxe or Garnito. The Balafon grape is close to the bread grape and the full-fat (anoxia) is so thick it has to be injected into the wine to obtain the sweet wine that is typical of Central Italy. It’s renowned for being full of fibre and a major player in pasta making.

For those really up to it, an intense festival of Balafon would be like a feast of Balafon, involving a buffet of wines, then a dance party – to the accompaniment of the burly trucks, alarm clocks and flashes that serve the various workers on what is known as “Balafon-era”. Then when this is all over, you retreat to your own private Balafon-era for lunch. Unless it’s a Wednesday, when Thursdays are Balafon nights.

The Balafon-era, known as “Brulal Genna”, takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, but there are exceptions: Valentines’ day, to mark the relationship between Giuseppe and Lucia, and midnight to mark the happiness of Esmeralda, a mother and daughter who have been together since childhood.

Although, for most Italians, the central idea of “no Balafon, please” seems hardwired into their daily lives, they do use the Balafon-era as a lubricant for meeting people and making friends – but only within the confines of their own giudessa.

The suggested route from Montenapoleone to the highest point of Montegoreva, about 70m above sea level, is 12km by car or 10.5km by train. Berceuse (corner of Via Emilia and Via Dolomite) is the northern gateway to the city. From there, a good view of the gorgeous coastal landscape and mountains is available.

• Trains to Rome depart from Rome’s Tor Vergata station every 25 minutes from 7pm, every 2.5 hours from 11pm. Trains take about 8.5 hours on a standard journey, and cost €90. Train tickets to the coast cost €5 for an adult and €15 for a senior. Locomotives operate from 1.30pm.

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