On our first visit to Ascoli Piceno this summer, when we came to be tortured in language school and endured searing temperatures, we took a trip up into the hills to cool down, to have a change of pace, and to see the countryside hereabouts. We happened into the hamlet of Castignano where we saw a sign for the narrowest street in Italy. How cute, we thought, and wandered off to find the little alleyway, snapping some photos grateful that we were slender enough to fit into the tiny space.
So imagine our surprise when we visited Ripatransone and saw a sign there pointing us to the vicolo piu stretto d’Italia. We followed the signs, examined the alley, agreed it was pretty dang narrow and took some more photos, wondering which street really was slimmer. Maybe we’d bring a tape measure, we laughed.
But Italy, the land of superlatives and diminutives, surprised us again when we happened upon yet another sign in yet another town with the same claim. This time it was Civitella del Tronto, which is only about a half-hour from Ascoli but is actually in Abruzzo. Civitella’s is pretty small in the entries but widens a bit through the actual street so we crossed it off as actually being The One that is The Narrowest. No matter, they are making the same claim and we have to wonder…just how many narrowest streets are there?
A quick search on the internet yielded a few more…Citta della Pieve and Castelnuovo Val di Cecina (new clue where that is) are also laying claim to the narrowest alley in the country. I assume they are all trying to turn their teeny streets into tourist bucks. Who knows which one is actually the winner? My money is on Ripatransone but without toting the tape measure I can’t say for certain.
I think I can safely claim the distinction, however, of possessing la cucina piu piccola d’Italia, the smallest kitchen in Italy. It is wider than an alley but no deeper than a broom closet. The limited space has definitely affected my cooking skills. I curse it each and every time I try to prepare more than a basic pasta dish. I am thinking of putting out a sign to see if it draws tourists. (How much would you pay to see the little cooking marvel?) Maybe we could hold a new version of the Iron Chef competition here. They wouldn’t be limited by ingredients but by the space. “The Challenge: Who can cook a full meal in this stall?” Mario Batali, wanna give it a try?