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mail: Bill Thayer 
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Ponte San Giovanni


[image ALT: A photo of a bird; bits of its cage can be dimly made out in the background.]

If by the way this page just doesn't seem to match what you expected, you may be looking for a small Roman bridge sometimes given this name near Fossato di Vico.

Ponte S. Giovanni is an industrial town, a frazione of the comune of Perugia of which it is now a suburb. The "Ponte" part surely refers to the bridge over the Tiber, a huge brick hulk, of the 17c from the looks of it, if quite possibly, like many other bridges in Umbria, rebuilt after being bombed out in World War II: though I've seen it many times from my train speeding east to Assisi or Spello or Foligno, I regret to admit that I've never actually scouted it out on foot, and have no photo of it for you.

Worse yet, although I've spent more time in Ponte S. Giovanni than in many more famous towns in Umbria, and have even visited S. Bartolomeo, the large modern church a few hundred meters east of the station, I was for months unable to discover its name and it took the efforts of several people to pry that little secret loose. Mind you, I don't much like the exterior of the building — so now, back home in Chicago, I find I have no photo there either. . . . I did rather like the interior, though:


[image ALT: The main worship space of a church, trapezoidal in shape and filled with wooden pews. At one end, an altar; against the right wall, a positive organ. The walls, of concrete, are cut by many small rectangular slit windows. It is an interior view of a large modern church in Perugia Ponte S. Giovanni, Umbria (central Italy).]

Church at Ponte S. Giovanni: for Pope Paul VI in the stained glass, see my diary, Feb. 27, 2004.


[image ALT: A bird cage, about 2 meters tall, with a shallow pyramidal roof. It is the cage of the mascots of the train station at Perugia Ponte S. Giovanni in Umbria (central Italy).]
By now, gentle reader, you've noticed that I can't show you the bridge (the bridge over the Tiber at Pontecuti is something like it) and won't show you the church . . . and that opening finch must have you quite mystified.

Confession time. You too, if you ever visit Umbria without a car, will get to know this place as well as I do, for the train station here is one of your most important places: any time you travel from Todi, or Deruta, or Città di Castello, or pretty much anywhere in western Umbria, to Perugia (maybe to look at the Ipogeo dei Volumni, a famous Etruscan chamber tomb within a mile's easy walk south of the station), or Assisi, or Spello or even Spoleto or Ancona, you will change trains here; and on the way back, of course. You will spend anywhere from ten minutes to a disconsolate hour and a half at the station, which isn't the prettiest or best furnished of them, either. You will get to know its tiny waiting room all too well, and even in the rain you will prefer, maybe, to wander the open-air platforms, and you'll eventually discover the station mascots in their cage, and maybe, if your train is late or you've landed here because of a strike — and if you haven't discovered the excellent caffé/pastry shop on the main street of the town, no more than 200 m from the station (pay attention, that's a useful tip!) — maybe you'll feel a bit like them yourself, trapped in Ponte S. Giovanni.


[image ALT: A photo of a finch on a wooden perch.]


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Page updated: 10 Aug 05