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Tuesday 1 November

Well the two of us got off at Orte in the hope there would be a local to Terni — there wasn't — I'm not really quite sure where we were, since "Orte" may be Orte Scalo or even someplace several kilometers away (like "Massa Martana" is 7 km from the actual town of Massa).a

With no local to Terni, we had to wait for the 2218h to Ancona, or find a cab. No cabs waiting, young woman behind the bar at the caffé across the street said she knew of no number to call for one, and indeed the phone directory showed no cabs in Orte.

Train out at 2218, arrived in Terni at 2245 on schedule; in fact no girlfriend but the young man's parents there to meet him. Since there were cabs I was going to take one, but he wouldn't hear of it — He drove, I was in the suicide seat, parents in the back seat — In the dark twenty-five minutes with them behind me, I wouldn't recognize them I think if I saw them on the street. Parents dropped off first, then insisted he'd drop me off downtown, which he did, in front of my door. I was in the apartment at 11:23, a few minutes before my normal return time. For the record, young man — still don't know his name — serving his one-year term in the army, as the chauffeur to a general in Rome.

This morning up around 8, made a large breakfast of strongozzi al tartufo, yogurt, coffee, juice: intentionally drank about a liter before I left at 10:45 on my walk, which — finally! — took me to Montecastello Vibio.

Battery (already) dead on my camera so new roll of film wouldn't advance, and at that point didn't take my camera;b this wasn't so bad, since up to the turnoff after the bridge at Montemolino of course I'd already been one to four times; and much of the way back after rejoining the road from Doglio into Todi as well; plus the weather in the early part was very foggy; the only picture on the way in to M.C. di Vibio I would have made might not have come out because facing into the sun although I might have been able to shield with a tree: down onto Montemolino, stretched out from east to west with its crest marked by cypresses, with the second plane of pearl-grey being marked by Castel Torraccia, and a distant third, higher, by Todi's double-breasted hill and the spire of S. Fortunato.

[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.

Montecastello is ten meters higher than Todi but the ascent is not as bad as the hill up to the Perugina. I couldn't say why, since the differential is the same and the horizontal difference seems the same too; but it isn't. It's about twice the size of Massa, or maybe a quarter of Todi-within-the‑walls; altho' compact, no spurs with gullies in between like Todi.

The first thing I was met by when I got there was the Castello: the Hotel-Restaurant Il Castello to be exact — I'll save the margin for the details, their brochure (which I went in to request since it looked nice) is in the front room and I'm warm under this hideous olive-green coverlet and don't feel like getting up out of it — and I and the proprietress said well do come in and try our restaurant, with an air of great pride: so, unexpectedly, I did. Well, it was good, as good as the Umbria except one would have preferred a bit more Umbrian and a bit less elegant; on the other hand, it wasn't overly elegant at all, or fake like the Fonte Cesia.

I had some pleasant cheese-stuffed raviolilike things, turkey involtini with pinenuts, fagiolini in butter and sage (the only veggie I could get, resisted sopping up the butter), and a wonderful panna cotta with slightly sugared honey for crunch. No wine since I was on foot. Vaulted ceilings, big dining room without pretense.

I spent my time during the meal correcting the English of their menu — I offered after having seen "Castle Delice" and something with "myrtle" when "blueberry" was meant. It turned out the proprietor had done this English, came and sat with me so I could review it properly — my Italian not being so completely secure that I didn't want it checked, although it was confirmed in fact (veal had been turned into beef, goose into duck, etc.). I was graciously discounted 14 of my 44 ML bill for the translation review. . . .

Spent the next full half-hour or so doing the streets of Montecastello, which is an interesting place, spotless, and completely of stone. Among other things, a well, built into a tower with a spiral staircase running thru it — a poor description but that will have to do — a church with a plain pedimented door of slightly contrasting reddish stone like the church in Sismano except not quite as grand and with the simple inscription that had me stumped for fifteen seconds: Oratorium/Pyssimi suffragi 1667; an impressive war monument with black marble plaques; a separate plaque a block away honoring the memory of local people brutally murdered by the Nazis, and associating their memory with that of famous heroes also brutally killed by the nazis — now that I reflect on it, a singularly gracious and moving tribute — at least two prominent inscriptions from the Renaissance period which, typically, are not easy to understand (one seemed to commemorate a baker's guild, or something "PISTORIESE" anyway) — all this in a web of often arched medieval streets or staircases and held together by a pretty complete set of walls, with towers, buttresses and ravelins.

The great pride of the city being the Teatro della Concordia, a 99-seat theater built in 1808, the smallest theater in Europe, recently restored, and to be reopened — with a rather busy schedule for so small a town — on this December 9th; several xeroxes of the newspaper article announcing this posted in various places. An old photograph showing the full theater is eerie, since from the decoration one expects a full-sized theater, so the people look very large, rather like Tenniel's illustration of the jury box in Thru the Looking Glass —

A dozen or so little rectangular waste receptacles, looking like French mailboxes except green and with hand-printed slogans in yellow paint, like "Se vogliete bene Montecastello, tenetelo pulito" —

My little visit under totally overcast skies, quite cool, not really threatening rain but looking like it might, so to speak. It never did: I took off my T‑shirt on leaving and soon the sky cleared pretty much to match; and I walked back home, dropping the original idea of an extended walk since I'd lost an hour to lunch. A stunning view of Todi for a couple hundred yards on the way out of Montecastello; later, just before the turn on to the road from Canonica to Doglio, a very lovely stretch to the east, just fields and landforms, but very beautiful: plowed fields after a while new grass grows fine bright green and from far away exactly like silk, reminding me of the hideous green-and‑brown silk coat that man was wearing on a train a few weeks back: now why is it that artificial it was horrible, natural it's lovely? (like sunsets and postcards of sunsets) — In this same stretch of road, westwards view, less striking but somewhat more interesting, onto Doglio et al. — at one point along this 800 m stretch of road an almost 360° panorama — with west backdrop some higher distant mountains dark blue with powerful antennas, rather impressive.

And then the descent onto Todi — the Consolazione now visible too — and I thought I'd go by a different route since I'd already done the Canonica road albeit in the opposite direction — took a good clear road, marked also as such on my map; 500 m it chose to tell me "strada privata" but that's not fair, so I kept on going — a bout of brambles and some basically nonpaths, and I finally found myself 20 yards north of the bridge at Pontecuti: on the way, the best view of the latter I've seen — arches reflected in the Tiber, the village above looking particularly picturesque. Up from Pontecuti via S. Giácomo and its assortment of demented large white fluffy dogs — several properties have them — arriving via the Orvietana and the v. Termoli up on the Piazza directly (a nice approach) in full passeggiata at 5:30 P.M.

Should have recorded in their proper places the bells: at 10:45 just as I passed the Duomo on the way off the Piazza towards the Perugina, the Duomo's three big clanging bells; at noon at the foot of Montemolino, the latter's four bells, a double tune: tolling the low bell quite loud, above it a rather tricky rhythm of anapests and proceleusmatics played on the top two; after a longish concert of this, the normal Angelus on the tenor bell; at 3:15 and 3:30 the bells of Doglio: the hour struck on the baritone followed by the quarters chimed on a rather unresonant tinny-sounding high bell; finally, the 5:30 peals marking the end of the day upon returning to Todi.

Got up to my apartment and headed to bed for warmth and fell almost immediately asleep — do agree with Plato as reported by Lucian in my current reading (on the Dance) that the four most delightful experiences in the world are sleep, love, song and dance — and woke up now full two and a half hours ago, at 9 P.M.

Hungry — lunch, tho' good, was slight — and pleasant muscle ache — face tight so apparently a bit more tan — a sort of scrape-like sore from the dancebelt, if the cleft between my cheeks were the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the inch-long sore — dry — would be in the area of the Sargasso Sea; which prevented me from doing my situps today — weight 78 or a tad below —


Later Notes for the Web:

a For the record, the train station called Orte is indeed at Orte Scalo, some 3 km from the real (upper) town of Orte, which I eventually did visit (diary, July 20, 2000).

b It would be nearly 10 years before I finally returned to Montecastello di Vibio, and that time with a working camera: see March 13, 2004, which does have a photo, of course.


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Page updated: 15 Aug 11