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Saturday 14 November

On the 0811 out of Foligno by grey weather, with all my bags: I've left Spello — Walter drove me to Foligno station — since my plane is so blasted early tomorrow; and I'm doing my Narni visit today. Who knows where I'll sleep tonight, probably Rome or Orte: there's an 0514 out of Orte direct to Fiumicino airport at 0718, a bit tight for an 0825 plane, but it would save me tons of money as long as there's a hotel in Orte Scalo near the station (and in fact I don't remember any?)

A massive stone wall, about 12 meters high and 7 meters wide at the top, spanning a very steep small valley. At the bottom, there is a disproportionately small round arch. It is the Ponte Parasacco, a 13th‑century reconstruction of a Roman aqueduct bridge near Spello in Umbria (central Italy).
	Anyway, catching up; Thursday was very low-key: I had a large breakfast disposing of quite a bit of supplies, and finally reached the Ponte Parasacco on my own, by enough daylight to get pictures. The ways down to the arch at the bottom are all quite dangerous; I didn't go all the way down — that wasn't useful — but about ¾ of the way: in fact, the most dangerous part, no path, 55° slope of mud and rotten leaves, lots of little trees you can't count on to hold you, a few bigger ones. The channel is blocked off — at the W end at least, I didn't check the E end — with a modern pipe running thru it: interestingly, the pipe has a slight upwards gradient here, but the aqueduct of course not. Pix wound up grainy because I was using the end of the single roll of 800 ASA of the trip. I bought it because I'd been told flash was prohibited in the Sala della Lupa at the Capitoline Museum: this by a museum employee. A week or so later, same museum, not only this was not true, but the room was closed for restoration — Wolfie herself being worked on in public behind a glass partition in an adjacent room. So I had this film — I used it for the bad light at Portus, and I had some left for my aqueduct. Mmph: next trip, despite the hassle, a tripod and slow film it'll be.

That in fact was the main result of Friday yesterday: my day in Todi to pick up the 72 rolls I gave them the other day; plus 3 more since. The usual trains via Terni — a gorgeous day; but my trip was mentally over, and I sat in the shop most of the morning, 'til my bus departure to the train and out; going thru photographs.

Finally, flash is often a bad deal, especially for inscriptions and paintings, especially oil: tripod here we come.

Dinner last night then at 8:30 or so at the Pinturicchio, after settling the residual accounts with Walter and Maria-Paola; also after finally getting a hold of Osvaldo, who had got my portable back (unfixed: there seems to be something quite bizarre with it, just like last year) and picking it up at his house.

Mirko made me a present of the wine, offering me a choice of an '88 Sagrantino (Arquata) and an '88 Tili Sacreterre: I chose the latter, as being a bit lighter. I felt it had — just — passed its peak; Mirko's first reaction was that something wasn't quite right; Carlo and Roberto happened to be in the house, so Mirko had Roberto try it, who gushed over how wonderful it was what bouquet — I agree it smelled very good — but I warn't convinced, ever so slightly maderised (new word for the day: marsalito) and a bit brownish, separating at the meniscus, not completely clear either: Mirko was still out on it at the end of the meal.

Good meal, as usual; the coratella, tagliatelle ai funghi porcini, agnello pseudo-Spellana, verdura cotta, patate al tartufo, plus Lara's 2 desserts of the evening: a soft ice cream with small slices of torrone, drowned in hot chocolate sauce — and a pastiera napoletana:º a sort of sand-tart pie with an unknown creamy filling that must've had rum and candied fruit in it; the Nonna's limoncello. And with this classic blowout, exit one well-fed Booby 'midst much talk of 1999; in my bags I'm carrying a book Mirko gave me the other night, by a rather different priest, Una Vorda Er Cuscì: one of those collections of old-time tales and customs, dialect, etc. but particularly well done, about Spello. Anyway, a last stop in the kitchen to say g'bye, and off to bed, or rather to look at my suitcases — and decide to pack this morning instead. . . .

One of the problems when I don't write up my diary on the day itself is that I sometimes momentarily forget or transpose things: I'd hoped this year would be better than last for being up to date, but in fact I've been worse. Anyway, I failed to mention in its proper place my nice little goodbye dinner at Orlando and Giuliana's — Maria-Paola and the now little girl rather than baby Sonora (in the "Mine!" phase): liver crostini, mushroom crostini, cherry tomatoes pickled with an olive and a bit of fish and hot pepper — Sonora picks olives out of everything and eats them, she just loves olives; Giuliana's tripe dish, excellent (similar to mine out of Julia: lemon peel and cooked very slow for a long time); and her equally excellent rocciata: wonderful stuff, although most of everyone else's rocciata I've had was poor to medium — A very nice comfortable dinner, I'll miss them all. Stolze, now 11 years old, is slowing down, with possibly deafness making its appearance: I'm really not sure at all to be back until 2001 (Giubileo looks like the plague on wheels, 2000 will surely be a year to skip Italy)a and that would make him a very old dog. I'm very fond of him, and he seems to be rather fond of me, too: the second-best dog in the world and I'll surely miss him as well.

Thayer's Note:

a In fact, I spent three months in Italy in 2000: if plague there was, it seems to have been limited to Rome. The rest of the country kept on living its regular life.

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