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Friday 30 October

Our second day (first and only full day, actually) in Amelia was fairly simple: after a good breakfast in our room — not on the terrace, it was too cool for James and even a bit cool for me — we wandered the streets of Amelia until 10:30 the opening time of the Roman cisterns; which I, at least, found fascinating: James found them mildly interesting. There are several things not clear about them; add to pile of mysteries. Marco Santi was the volunteer guide, he's a member of the "underground" association: I Poligonali; but almost every large Umbrian town has one, it seems (UTEC in Narni, SpeleoClub in Todi, etc.)a

[image ALT: A damp-looking vaulted area about 20 meters long, 6 meters wide and 8 meters high, made of rough stone, with mist rising. It is a Roman cistern in Amelia, Umbria (central Italy).]

One of the 6 interconnected Roman cisterns of Amelia.

After what turned out to be nearly 2 hours in one of the many literal holes in the ground I've dragged James to, we went and squinted at the Duomo at just the right time: Mass was letting out, they were already turning out the lights as people were still filing out; we filed in and got an idea of what's in there: not too much despite the cavernous structure, but a coupla nice Renaissance tombs, an attractive inlaid wood baptismal font, and two Turkish standards that one of the guidebooks put at Lepanto but the cathedral itself puts at Candia nearly a century later; more plausibly by me on stylistic grounds but then what do I know about Turkish textiles.


[image ALT: A long narrow street leading to a single-arched two-story gate in the background. It is paved with irregular blocks of stone and a drainage ditch of rectangular section runs down the center of it. Some pipe scaffolding over it and to the sides supports a narrow raised wooden walkway. It is a view of the excavation of a street in Amelia, Umbria (central Italy), showing the former Roman road beneath it known as the Via Amerina.]
The Via Amerina during excavation.

You are looking S, out of town: in the background, at the foot of the incline, the (16c) Porta Romana.

Third-party copyright: contact me for permission.

I was starving by then, we found ourselves a table at the slow-service but fairly good La Locanda, in the via della Repubblica right next to my pal at #58 who Saturday evening — while James was taking his shower I slipped out to go see her — gave me a photo taken by her of the (possibly) Via Amerina leading down to the Porta Romana, and recommended the restaurant. Taglioline al limone, bocconcini di vitello, tiramisu and "mousse d' amaretti" concealing an excellent homemade bisque tortoni; James had lunette dello chef (pale tomato & cheese, the pasta stuffed with cheese and a mix of green things; fagottini (a grilled veal & mushroom cutlet); Rosso di M'falco Arquata '95 at an extremely reasonably price, ₤12,000; limoncello for me, grappa for James. The restaurant has yet further pieces of the Roman street under glass under its floor, plus a stretch of reticulatum; the owner was keen, despite a busy moment, on pumping me for website basics — much to my surprise.

We then walked out the Romana as a post-prandial, and in the course of looking for some reputed very nearby ruins — which we never found — wound up at the rebuilt bridge down below the town to the north; we'd seen, from the panoramic spot near the Duomo, a thing in this general area which elsewhere is described as being a Roman dam ("diga Romana") of the 1st or 2d century, and at the Ponte I figured we weren't far, so off we went, confirmed in our andamenti by instructions from the Trattoria Il Ponte — curiously, over their kitchen, a wooden sign "Home Cooking", in English, that they weren't too sure what it meant: I corrected their "Casa della cucina" to "cucina casalinga", they seemed delighted by this.

Well of course by the time we got to the area of the dam it was twilight; an attractive place, if scary: just before that, in the woods (we'd gone from road to dirt road to path), a car with activity in it — we both hoped it was consensual, and scurried by without looking — 200 m later followed by 2 men with guns looking at us fixedly: I had my camera nice and visible and we were speaking English, they relaxed; hunters, a baby boar, dead with a broken leg, looking quite peaceful though. I asked them how much meat one might get out of that, they said about 8kg, which James thought about three pounds high. Back to the hotel peacefully, and eventually another good dinner, although James not too hungry: here, a goat cheese with more of that chestnut honey, except baked in the oven; still somewhat odd, but at least it made better sense than with Gorgonzola. For after-dinner, an alcool blanc, made by Marie-France's mother who lives in Delémont: "di damasino" — a very good one, too; to bed.


Later Note for the Web:

a There are groups in Amelia, Narni, Todi, Scheggia, and elsewhere, but they've got a weak Web footprint: the Narni group has a little directory of speleoclubs in Italy, but only one is specifically Umbrian, the Federazione Umbra Gruppi Speleologici, which does not seem to include the associations devoted to the undergrounds of towns.


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Page updated: 20 Mar 13