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Monday 19 April 2004

Yesterday Sunday I decided to gamble on the weather — my "unit" for Città della Pieve was a walk to Monte­gabbione and Monte­leone and finally I'll never do anything if I cower before the weather — I've already lost quite a few days; so off I went at 10, after a couple of cornetti and a cappuccino at Bar Pippo on the piazza in front of S. Anna and the Gesù. Mapless — maps not much use since the road signs aren't there to go with 'em — but was told "road to Perugia". Did that and wound up at Piegaro; about 3 km before the town I got the feeling I was twisted around 90° and sure enough, I recognized Piegaro from about 2 km off, but wasn't about to turn and retrace my steps, much too demoralizing.

[image ALT: missingALT]

Beauti­ful but, especially with rain threatening, a bit upsetting: I wasn't supposed to be here!
(Recognizing it from an earlier visit — that one intentional, at least.)

As it was, this made a much better itinerary, and it's not like I knew Piegaro that well: I had no idea the old town had a long tail, like a comet, of modern houses extending along a ridge for a kilometer or more; and what I'd planned as a round-trip with a loop at one end turned into a much more satisfying triangle, and only about 7 km longer maybe.

Road between Piegaro and Monte­gabbione rose right back up to the altitude of the road from Città della Pieve to Piegaro (before the useless dip then immediate rise into Piegaro), and then some: no longer undulating farms with little valleys and creeks of poplars, but still wintry pines and brown-leaved oak.

Monte­gabbione itself, tiny: a downpour as I got up into town; a square tower at one end, and a totally redone church in the middle, the interior in 19c Gothic pastiche, and the façade of bright, bright red terracotta. Three streets and you're out of town. It was nearly 2 and I wanted food — quite hungry — found Il Peperoncino, the town's restaurant: closed; oh hell on to Monte­leone (beauti­fully stretched out on its crest 5 km across the valley), but a pitstop at a small chapel at the edge of town, Madonna delle Grazie: outside nothing much, and hideous 20c tympanum; beauti­ful Madonna and Child inside and the space is nice, glad I saw it.

[image ALT: A more or less oval escutcheon, i.e., tortured into a leafy baroque form, featuring two prominent birds, the central one of which is perched on a stylized group of three hills. It is the coat of arms of Montegabbione in Umbria (central Italy), seen among the stucco decorations of the chapel there of the Madonna delle Grazie.]

Detail of the altar: the punning arms of Monte­gabbione.

Clearing skies, long winding dip, maybe one car every eight minutes or so, then rise again into Monte­leone, rather like Piegaro, except entering by the modern tail this time: and food! 3:30, two sammiches and a liter of ice-cold tea, felt better.

The old town quite unlike Monte­gabbione: three or four times the size, one long central crest, all brick, most of it quite handsome, and at the end of it all a tiny little belvedere with a rather spectacular view from Monte­gabbione around S then W to Fabro and the Tiber valley.

[image ALT: A small flagstone-paved terrace, about a third of it occupied by three trees — the one on the left in full leaf, the other two almost bare — each with a stone bench, a subcompact car, and a mini-pickup truck. It over­looks a wide swath of gently rolling hills. It is the southernmost end of the village of Monteleone d'Orvieto, in Umbria (central Italy).]

Monte­leone: the belvedere at the end of the crest.

Retra­cing my steps thru the entire length of the old town (although I did walk both the walls, E and W parallel to the central street), then cut out briefly to the SW past the church of the Santissimo Crocifisso — heavy restoration work — chat with a woman who lived in the adjacent house, and her beauti­ful small brown dog Matilda — then the road to Città della Pieve; in the fog and rain of Saturday's bus ride I'd spotted a little church at the edge of town, quite beauti­ful, so was primed for it — still beauti­ful, no idea of the name of it nor of the why of it.

[image ALT: A house-sized single-story plastered building with an applied pediment over its main door; on the right, in a lower part of the building with a sloping roof, a second identical door, and above it a small brick belfry of the type known as a 'campanile a vela', with a true pediment. It is the chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Pian Pistolla near Monteleone d'Orvieto in Umbria (central Italy).]

About 1 km WNW of Monte­leone along the road to Città della Pieve:
the chapel of the Immacolata Concezione at Pian Pistolla.​a

And about 2 km out of town, rain, quite hard for about 2‑3 km: top of me encased in the Umbertide parka, bone-dry; legs sopping wet and freezing, and by good fortune, feet only very slightly damp. The rain stopped about 1½-2 km before Città della Pieve, and by the time I got to my hotel (Hotel Vannucci) my trou were quite dry again, the miracle of plastic.

This walk wound up being 27 km: 7 from Città della Pieve to Piegaro, 8 to Monte­gabbione, 5 to Monte­leone, 7 back to Città della Pieve. It was an easy, comfortable walk, except for the rain, and even that wasn't so bad. It was only on this morning's bus back to Perugia, which went from Città della Pieve to Monte­leone then to Piegaro (leaving Monte­gabbione to the right), that I realized just how much of a climb there is from Piegaro to Monte­gabbione: I'd barely noticed it on the walk, which is good. No Pietralunga knee, either.

[I forgot to mention in its proper place, about 1 km out of Città della Pieve at the beginning of my walk, a little church, the closer I got the less nondescript, with a beauti­ful early Romanesque tympanum — Madonna and Child between two angels — and the woman, named Francesca, who lives in the attached house, which not so long ago was a hermitage, opened up — a good painting, school of Perugino probably, over the altar: and she knew about the history of the church — people just know things here — The Madonna della Sanità.]

[image ALT: A Romanesque stone tympanum, rather flatter than usual in its proportions, depicting the Virgin and Child seated on a throne, under an arched canopy between two angels. It is the tympanum over the main door of the Madonna della Sanità near Città della Pieve, Umbria (central Italy).]

Early Romanesque: the tympanum of the Madonna della Sanità.

Dinner last night (hungry again, of course): tagliatelle al tartufo, filetto allo zafferano, and a white wine Vincenzo'd mentioned as being quite good, as indeed it was, Fiano d'Avellino (di Feudi di S. Gregorio, 2002) somewhat lemonous, crisp, distinctive. Another crème brûlée, tozzetti al vinsanto, Moscato di Poli back to my room.

Today fairly simple to record: my bus was at 9, and I was in Perugia by 10:30; train to Umbertide at 12:05 — a little bit of wandering to fill the time — and back home by 1:10 after a stop at Angelo's for potatoes and sausage.

Hot bath — it works!! — laundry, photos to computer, letter-writing, diary, phone calls, itinerary planning, boiled potatoes with some of Edda's salsa verde; news, etc.

I have no idea where I'm going tomorrow: I'll see what time I wake up and what the weather looks like. (No sooner had I got indoors here than it started to pour: it rained hard almost all afternoon, and — it's now 10:50 P.M. — from the sound of the cars, it's still raining now, if lighter.)

Later Note:

a For nearly twenty years, this little church remained unidentified on this page. The basic information became available to me many years after I walked past her, and the little shrine now has a proper webpage of her own.

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Page updated: 7 Jan 24