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Friday 27 February

And so I am, on the train to Perugia and on to Trevi; despite lolling about this morning after waking up at 9 (woke up a first time at 3, more or less my usual hour, but it felt too early so, with some difficulty, got back to sleep around 4:30) — and not having the train schedules down yet, with the luck of the drunk and the innocent, I got to the station at 10:36 and this train leaves at 10:53. Ticket to PSG, plus chilometrico to Trevi, 4E15.

I don't know whether I'm staying in Trevi, which depends on (a) availability of ticket for tonite's theater, and (b) availability of hotel room; but I do have with me Franco's book and Mariella's herbals (wintergreen and sarsaparilla, both North American plants), and I do expect to come back with olive oil: I'll probably buy one liter each from Franco's cooperative and the other so I can compare. If I stay overnight, it'll be interesting to see what I do: the schedule to meet is what I suspect will become my friend the 1943 out of PSG.

It's still raining, light but steady; it stopped I think during the night, at least I didn't hear rain at 4.

Well here I am, at a maroon-tableclothed table in a back corner of the Ristorante Maggiolini in Trevi, having climbed the hill and thus feeling like I earned my lunch; it must be about 1:45.

My train dropped me off at PSG with about half an hour to kill; and it occurred to me that after all these years of changing in PSG, I'd never actually seen any of the town, although the very first time I was there, with James in 1993 on the first leg of our trains back to France, we wandered out and quite by accident "discovered" the Ipogeo dei Volumni. But other than then, never: so off I went under the drizzle just across the street to a small shopping mall, the Apogeo. A good example of modern commercial architecture, long rectangular ground floor and a first floor overlooking it all round; the upper floor sort of deserted, some offices and a clinic but some unleased space, but the ground floor a large perfume shop, a toy store, a clothing store, a couple of banks (an ATM at one of them that seemed to take my own card, though I didn't check), and most of all, a large Coop supermarket, which, especially if their opening hours are good, will be very useful.

Still, a shopping mall will only hold my interest for so long; stepping out, a large modern church about 2 blocks away — huge ugly ominous belfry, a sort of concrete needle hiding under a folded ribbon of designed-to‑rust steel, truculent and pretentious in its ugliness, especially compared to a rather attractive repeater station (or something like that) across the way. The church was open and promised better, and was: a pleasant space with some lively stained glass, reminded me of the church in Attigliano. Not quite sure how to read the glass, which may record Vatican II (church, according to a plaque near the door, dates to 1982); but one of the windows shows a Pope with glasses, that I thought first might be Pius XII, but thru the telephoto I'm less sure, maybe St. Pius X: I wonder where I go to find out.​a

[image ALT: Most of a pediment-shaped stained glass window: in the center, a man, seated and wearing robes and a half-cape, looking to his left, at a pastoral and agricultural scene apparently set in African; on his right, a stylized depiction of highways and an airport. It is a window in the church of S. Bartolomeo in Ponte S. Giovanni, Umbria (central Italy).]

Church at Ponte S. Giovanni: a depiction of Pope Paul VI in the stained glass.

Back out into the rain, now stronger, and a bit of a fast walk to make it to my 1209 train: like I used to say when I was a kid, all the time in the world — made it with a good 60 seconds to spare.

This train to Foligno, which I think of as a cross-line in Umbria, in fact goes on to Fabriano and Ancona after its stop there: also good to know. A very short trip, we were scarce out of SGº before we were in Bastia, then Assisi, and Spello, the skies clearing to the SW, then Foligno at 1237, and another half hour to kill before the 1302 to Trevi: I walked a bit down the main drag into town; an hotel-pizzeria now open, maybe, where the definitely closed hotel used to be on the piazza in front of the station: building cleaned up since last time, and a new sign — but wasn't actually open and looked like it might not be quite yet.

Seven minutes on the putt-putt to Trevi — snow, as it was on the last 100 m of Subasio, on the hill behind Trevi; and off at Trevi, feeling that I was in Umbria at last (although of course Umbertide is every bit as Umbrian, but this is my first excursion). Up the horrific hill, calves feeling it and even just a bit out of breath: a railroad-track hill so to speak, and here all I had for breakfast was one banana and a caffé latte (figured out how to turn on gas and light stove, not quite as easy as all that, properly hedged about with safeguards).

Various things I haven't recorded yet, lest I forget them: first of all my train trip from Rome to Umbertide on arrival, since I notice that my main concern was the schedules and actually getting to Umbertide — you'd think it was all old hat to me and I paid no attention to the trip; not so of course. The route to Orte, the slow way via Fara Sabina, not that attractive: certainly not thru Settebagni, suburban sprawl and railroad-track landscape; then it started to open up, big flat sodden squares of very green, with to the left eventually Mt. Soratte (which, having walked past it on the other side, I now recognize). The first actually beauti­ful patch was just after Gavignano Sabina and before Stimigliano: that kind of scene with Soratte behind, and in the middle distance bordering a stream, a wavy line of trees, dead or more likely bare for the winter, but the trunks halfway up complete wrapped in some dark-foliaged vine —

No time to stand around at Orte, as noted a mad dash to the binario, a well-designed schedule point, which with the similar mad dash at Terni did get me to Umbertide by the last train: no 2‑minute changes and Lord knows where I would have slept Wednesday night. The fast connections also made it possible for me to see a good chunk of Umbria by something like daylight: the bridge at Narni, which for me is the boundary of Umbria (despite Nera Montoro before it), the brief trip to Terni and I guess it wasn't really night until Todi: nice to take the FCU line again after all these years and I hope this will be the year, for example, that I finally see Cesi properly,​b but it's still a wonder­ful sight clinging to the side of its cliff. The last stretch, from PSG to Umbertide after what seems like a wasted wait in the station, completely in the dark of course, but the abbey at Montecorona brightly lit on the left just after a station there.

Back at the Terziere hotel in Trevi after my performance of La Dodicesima Notte, lunch at Maggiolini, surprising Mariella and Franco and dinner with them; I'm going to be behind on diary but I need to get to sleep: it must be midnite and I have a wake-up call for 8 and am supposed to meet Franco in piazza in front of the Pro Loco​c at 9 then who knows where, him tumbling all over himself, typically, to show me things and drive me places —

Later Notes:

a I didn't have to go any further than my own photograph: though taken with no additional light and from half a church away, the original photo image shows that the writing on the Pope's stole (or is that just an old-fashioned banner?) reads POPULORUM . . ., enough to identify the man as Pope Paul VI, writer of the encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967). Once we know this, it becomes easy to read the glass: to the Pope's right, the modern world, and to his left, towards which he turns his face, the struggling developing world.

Students of iconography, take heed: the work of art is not 30 years old, and reading it already requires thought!

b Yes; although I caught the flu of my life when there and was too sick to record the visit in my diary! Still, I now have a set of webpages on the pretty little town.

c i.e., Pro Trevi, one of the local tourist offices most on the ball in all of Umbria — and their website is without qualification the best in the region.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20