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Sunday 30 October

Standing up on the train to Terni and Ancona [. . .]

At the Umbria a little past eight p. m., slightly unpredictable day but nothing really unusual.

Getting to the train station in time in fact was the first surprise: the elevator broke down at the hotel, meaning that after sharing my breakfast table with a sweet young Guatemalan couple, suddenly getting up to my room and brining my bags down became an exercise — Beatriz (the same Spanish chambermaid who rescued me from the grinder last time — who was surprised and gratified I remembered her name) wound up leading me out into the street, in a door next doors, up three flights of steps how real Romans live, didn't smell bad, but otherwise like a slum building in Chicago, and thru a special back door to the hotel. . . and I clambered down this way, the fire exit, three minutes later with my bags: suitcase plus two shopping bags continuing yesterday's shopping — and thus, as mentioned, at Termini at 10:07 — (train: 10:15)

On the train to Terni, fell in with nice Senegalese woman and her two teenage sons — she lives in Rome and became a French citizen twenty years ago soured on possibilities of doing something useful in Senegal — wide culture: gave me the etymology of "Chicago" which very few Americans could do — They were going to Todi to spend a couple of days with friends.

On the chug chug out of Terni we were sort of joined by a rather nosy and officious large dyed-blonde American by name of [. . .] who actually asked my Senegalese friends who in Todi they were staying with — I allowed her to worm out of me who I was renting from — she claimed to be in the [. . .] business — gave me various advice on where to go and what to use as a guidebook: Montecastello di Vibio was on the top of her list; I told her Montemolino, Petroro and Pesciano were at the top of mine — She was met at the station by a younger woman named [. . .] and they insistently offered to drive me up, I accepted graciously altho' this left me at the Mercato Vecchio (thus a trudge up from there) whereas the bus puts me at my front door . . .

As soon as I got inside the apartment, I stripped, weighed myself (76½ = 168+) noting that this is my target weight for November 15, changed into walking gear, picked an appropriate itinerary (which in fact I changed considerably at the first stop out), and left at 1:10 — for Pontecuti via S. Giacomo, which turns out to be a very expensive and very private, guarded, residence, possibly of some church dignitary — and thus sort of by the back entrance to Pontecuti, a very pleasant walk, certainly compared to the road. At Pontecuti I headed up the hill to Canonica via some straight paths that repeatedly cross the winding highway; still didn't make it into Canonica Vecchia or to the church — which at any rate is lovely from a distance, with its deep pink belfry, 17th or 18th century maybe — now that my stay here is drawing to a close, I find myself increasingly saying whatever I won't see will be for next time [. . .]

[and if you need it, here's help in using the map,
including my own symbols & added information.]

Other walks in the area, see Walking in Umbria.

By this time, Cordigliano felt closer and I got tempted; woods mostly, Cordigliano in itself is just an old tower, but very pleasant; down from there to what turned out, when I got back to my books, to be Campi: via a path first, then just steep fields down to the flood plain of the Tiber; a cool day but not overly, but although shirtless no tan today: clouds pretty much thruout.

Then quietly back to Pontecuti and Todi along the Tiber; and separated from the river by only a narrow field, I couldn't resist, I went swimming. Dangerous — white water, rocks — but rivers are for swimming in and I'm not going to start being reasonable at my age — took off all my clothes and "swam" in the river — cold but no more than Lake Michigan in early July — quotemarks because not enough depth; but pretended it was a large bathtub — [. . .] I felt utterly free — In fact thruout the day, probably the result of all that shopping yesterday, I've been particularly careful of my posture — Senegalese woman ingratiated herself forever with me by saying I looked like the young Nureyev "quand il était jeune et beau" even if I never liked his looks at any age [. . .]

Some of my good feeling from my little bath in the Tiber — quite clean, by the way, the mud is only at the bottom — went away as I kept walking, since my little road merged into the highway to Baschi & Orvieto, and the hookers were out in force, and barechested I felt I might be being looked at similarly — it isn't in fact so far off, before I get too proud: I just never had the sense to make any money out of being a whore. . . .

I was back at the apartment at 5:25 having covered 20 km. Apparently my mileage figures on some of the other walks have been low, possibly 30% low or even maybe a bit more: I've been estimating from the kilometer grid on my maps; but milestones today made my walk 20 km, my estimate something like 15 — that would acc't for why I've been walking so slow: I haven't. Anyhow, I've been having a grand time. [. . .]

Extraordinary how unpredictable life is. In 1966 I wanted to be an archaeologist, in 1967 I was up to my neck in spaceflight. In 1969 I was a cadet at USAFA, in 1970 I was working at a Woolworth's in Schenectady, in 1971 I was running a glossy magazine in Strasbourg, in 1972 I was living in Minnesota in misery. In 1974 I arrived in Chicago with 20¢ — in 1975 I was interpreting in the Sahara Desert and had fallen in love in Paris. In 1993 I was minding my own business, plugging along under the force of inertia, and not really happy; in 1994 I lost 35 pounds, think of myself sort of as a dancer or an athlete and living nearly a quarter of the year in rural Italy [. . .]

My hip hurts [. . .]

For the record, tonight I had a passata di fave with a wonderful garlic crostino floating in it; tagliatelle al tartufo; coniglio alla padella ai capperi — excellent, altho' like most rabbit, full of tiny little bones requiring careful attention. . . a torta ai pinoli, OK (an unnecessary layer of crème anglaise, I think); some kind of vaguely chocolate breadlike things with vin santo — I'd asked for a Torcolato, they'd run out; still, what the good Lord sends me, I eat happily; a coffee and a rather good grappa, Nonino dei Friuli — and with the meal, the 2d half of my Torgiano "Il Pino".

[. . .]

The restaurant is full, and the door had a sign when I showed up at 8:05 tonight, that it was full — closed to walkin business — but in fact, because I'd told the waiter Thursday I'd be back on Sunday to finish my Torgiano, they'd prepared my table for me in a corner with one place setting and my half-bottle — Well-organized, courteous, flattering — I'm the only non-Italian in the room — two large tables for different parties, one of 9, the other of 12; four other tables of 2 to 4 — plus me —

Tomorrow I go to Rome and skate [. . .]


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