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Thursday 11 March 2004

9:30 P.M., bed; feet hurt despite having walked no more than 7 km all told today: I'm beginning to get worried. Anyhow, in view of weather predicted overcast and rainy, I went to Perugia to find myself indoor things to see. Train out at 0853 and for once I didn't get off at PSG, but — it felt so leisurely! — straight into town at Perugia Sant' Anna, roughly 9:30.

I showed no imagination at all today, only looking at things I'd seen before, but not managed to photograph, plus — a big plus — I really do have a better understanding now of what I'm looking at than years ago. So: S. Domenico, about an hour and a half, S. Pietro an hour and a half, then crossed Perugia from one end to the other to go back to James' and my favorite, S. Angelo — with a quick peer at the Duomo (closed) and the Arco Etrusco of blessed memory; then on the way back, mostly worsening rain, and train out at just short of 3:30.

Interesting though that I've now reversed my assessment of S. Domenico and S. Pietro; by far the better stuff — but much less of it and not forming a unified ensemble — in S. Domenico; whereas S. Pietro, on close inspection, the individual works much less good (except for the wonder­ful 16c stalls in the choir, only partly invaded by restauro and scaffolding; and the sacristy, which this time was quite closed behind ditto): but the ensemble is still phenomenal. This amazing camera remains a joy, as do my very steady hands; it's always been an amazement to me, with my nerves and general klutziness, how steady my hands are, especially my right: the same hand that made me a crack shot with a pistol in my army days (although I just barely squeaked by with the M‑16), combined with the good camera, and I'm taking pictures almost in the dark, with no flash. Some fuzziness here and there but usually not even down to about 0.4″ — thank you Marco!

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The best monument in S. Domenico is the Tomb of Pope Benedict XI (d. 1304);
traditionally attributed to Giovanni Pisano, ca. 1325.

S. Pietro's convent given over to the Facoltà di Agraria; so in the back, a "medieval garden"; authentic enough in terms of the actual herbs, simples: but the most absurd esoteric "symbolism" laid on it, about cosmological eggs, the perfection of the Divine, and the walk into the wilderness of the soul. Still, garden (and, mostly, setting) attractive.

S. Angelo, had the place to myself for an hour; during that time, three other visitors: as I came in, a quartet of Americans leaving, photographing things; later, an Italian couple, asked me the name of the church — poor people, they got more than they bargained for, the vintage mini-lecture; another couple, walked it clockwise without stopping, left. A beauti­ful place (and now I'll have to go back to S. Stefano Rotondo).

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Back home at 4:25 and haven't set foot outside since. Three phone calls: (a) from a SlowTrav person whoº wants to take me along for a visit of "anywhere" in Umbria — they've only been before to Assisi — next Tuesday; (b) Karen; (c) Karen. Well I thought (b) wuz (c) — Karen coming to pick up her phone; which resulted in an odd conversation for maybe two whole minutes, until I realized (b) was in fact Karen in Sant' Arcangelo whose phone number I'd asked Bunny to be on the alert for back in Chicago since I'm rather hoping to meet her, so was very glad she called. Karen F. eventually dropped in to pick up 'fonino — and came within an ace of leaving her glasses here! I told her all this forgetting stuff a casa mia is most flattering. . . .

Sadly much of the evening taken up by TV reports of the horrific massacre in Madrid, last I heard more than 200 dead and 1200 wounded; the civilised world is all Spanish today. Earmarks of ETA supposedly but I'm not completely convinced; but it hardly matters, these cancers have to be excised.

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