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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 . . . .

[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.

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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Page updated: 1 Dec 12