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Monday 2 November

(Bench at Spello train station, mostly cloudy morning, waiting for the 0854 to 0919 northwards out of Foligno to Nocera to do another chunk of Flaminia —)

Friday 30th I finally went to Bettona; the idea was on from there to Torgiano, Deruta, and Deruta Stazione several km away; but that I didn't do, as it turned out. Train by dubious weather, quite overcast, to S. Maria degli Angeli, where I tanked up on supplies, and off against the traffic as it were, away from Assisi. Accidentally wound up on the little road to Tordandrea, nothing much although prosperous-looking and many houses have gardens. At what I thought would be the right intersection — it was — I checked with a man, unloading a van in front of a grocery store, wazzis the road to Costano? Yes, he said, but are you walking there? c'è un sacco di turisti che ci vanno con biciclette — to which I replied that now he'd seen one senza . . . .

Costano more pleasant but nothing much (a bit unfair since the center of the town is not on the road to Bettona) ditto the flat country from there to Passaggio; immediately after the bridge of which, a rather attractive resolutely modern church, at the same time built of Subasio stone: proof it can be done.

A rusted twisted yellow tourist marker, "Ipogeo romano" but 3 people quite ignorant of where or even what it might be (it turned out to be in Colle, about 2 km away) and two of 'em even looked at me rather oddly for asking . . . .

Up the hill to Bettona (which the Passaggesiº seem to refer to as "Bettona Alta", and indeed Passaggio now seems to be the main population center of the comune: Bettona paese now at 400 souls and a general air of depopulation to it) by a tightly winding road up thru olive groves, olives not seeming as ripe as those around Spello; on a clear day the views must be terrific, surely extending at least to Trevi: but only Perugia and Assisi were visible, Spello was completely hazed out.

[image ALT: Looking thru the Santa Caterina gate mentioned in the text, from inside the town out to a tree and the sky.]
	Bettona itself is a place one warms to rather than being gripped by instantly. From far away, it looks rather special, and the closer you get to it the less interesting it looks; by the time I got to the Porta Romana all I could see was some dullish medieval wall. Yet closer inspection reveals bits and pieces of old ("Etruscan") stone, there's a beautiful back gate — the Porta S. Caterina, with tremendous wooden doors patterned with decorative nails — outside of which, benches for enjoying the extensive north view, on one of which I had my lunch of bread, rollmops (alici wrapt around pimento-stuffed green olives, skewered two to a toothpick), facefruit.

Before this lunch, though, I did only a quarter of the walls, entering town thru the pedestrian Porta S. Crispolto: little cloister and church complex; nice fountain, another church, and the Pinacoteca in a medieval towered building, just closing at 1 but reopening only one hour later: very welcome, something that doesn't close for 3 or even 4 hours in the middle of the day. Bits of stone in the façade, including 3 Roman inscriptions, the fullest of which by good fortune deals with repairing the very walls I'd come to see.

Which I did, briefly: only about 40 m of the walls are pre-Roman, nowhere near anything like the huge walls of Amelia; even when they were new, besides, Vettona was much much smaller than Ameria.

Back to the museum, where I was the only visitor; a particularly attractive, informative, well organized museum, and full of useful publications for sale. Asking about this, I fell into conversation with Alessandro Bartoli, who manages this and 5 other museums of the Sistema Museale of Umbria: it's a private corporation, and that's enough to explain the difference. Anyway, it's a small Pinacoteca, containing mostly medieval and Renaissance paintings — nothing pre-medieval. One canvas in particular extremely unusual: it shows a Madonna and Child under the mantle of St. Anne, which is protecting them from a rain of arrows being dropped by an adult Christ in a mandorla above her! He's holding a sheaf of arrows in each hand, from which more arrows are falling, strictly vertical: they break on touching Anne's mantle. The God figure above is not the Father, but clearly given the age and traits of Christ, as well as the cruciform nimbus —

Further conversation with Alessandro Bartoli and we even set up an appointment to see pieces of Roman Narni, on the 14th: his fiancée has done some kind of major study of the epigraphy of Narnia, and we may be able to go look at a section of Flaminia in the vaults of a bank there; I expect I'll use the opportunity to do the Narni Sotterranea visit as well and see the Formina aqueduct —

Well all this was time-consuming, and Torgiano about 7 km away I would reach just about at sunset, then still miles to go to get to Deruta Stazione and the whole point of Torgiano would be to see the Wine Museum — in sum, no time left; so I opted to catch the last bus (at 1655) to Perugia. That in turn reversed the situation, giving me an hour, not quite, to kill: I completed my tour of the walls and walked most of the streets; much of the charm of Bettona is in its many small gardens within the walls. Finished at the bar in the Corso — the more active bar, where I bought my bus ticket, is in the piazza; near which I also found a guide to the town — and had two cappuccini and a grappa. [. . .]

The 4:55 bus, then, under a light drizzle and essentially in the dark; I was glad I hadn't gone on with my walk to Deruta. The bus driver — a bit bored, at first I was his only passenger — asked me what I was doing, and wound up helping me with ideas for getting to Scheggia by early morning (to allow me to walk another chunk of Flaminia: Scheggia to Cagli is about 23 km, from there to Fossombrone — the section that includes the Gola del Furlo — is about 30).a

Perugia 1750, a bus from the arrival plaza (Piazza dei Partigiani) at 1810 to Spello; very slow, much slower than the train, but it was certain, it was there, and I didn't have to wander around in the dark, change trains, etc. Walk up hill, noodles, bed.

Later Note for the Web:

a I eventually did walk it, but on a later stay in Umbria, during which, mostly for that reason in fact, I was based not in Spello but in Fossato di Vico. For that walk, full of Roman bridges, see the diary entries starting Aug. 7, 2000.

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