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Tuesday 27 April

Here I go again, another three days to catch up on; evenings and on trains, when I could be writing, I'm just very tired: at home I just go to sleep, and on the trains I stare off into space.

Saturday, Sunday and yesterday Monday were at least days simpler to write up, Saturday I did a small walk (probably 11 km) from Montecastelli to Sansecondo; Sunday I went to the commemoration in piazza of the 25 Apr 1944 bombing of Umbertide, then spent the rest of the day with the Spellani family celebrating the 34th birthday of Chiara and the 37th of Paolo; Monday yesterday I went to Porano; and right this minute, having walked back, I'm at a caffé near the station in Orvieto Scalo waiting for my 1337 train to Allerona about a half hour from now.

So Saturday was my little Circle 1 walk, just by way of not wasting a day that in fact was devoted to laundry and homework of various kinds. Mind you I did want to see the church of S. Cassiano, and after a short walk from the station of Montecastelli — having in turn got there by train in the early afternoon — by good luck found it open.

Well, it shouldn't have been open, maybe — but it was, and I don't ask questions; in fact I've now developed the unpleasant and superficially illogical habit of diving into the church and visiting the inside before even so much as looking at the outside: you never know how long it'll stay open. Anyhow the little Romanesque church has a bit of 16c or 17c fresco and is worth seeing; as I was wrapping up, an old man walked in and started wandering about, making mumbling and whining noises — as I left, he asked me nervously if I'd "been sent by the parroco to take pictures" or who might have sent me? Not hostile at all, but he's in charge of airing out the church before the 4 P.M. mass on Saturday, and just didn't know what to do with me — surely I must have been sent by someone. . . . Couldn't understand that nobody "sent" me at all; withal, very very difficult to extract information from — ah, the parroco, of what church? of what place? to which he supplied the time he might be at S. Casciano, the mass schedule, the man's name, everything except for where he was parroco of (Don Aldo at Trestina).

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S. Cassiano di Umbertide (properly, SS. Ippolito e Cassiano).

From there the road to Trestina, dull but not too trafficky since I was walking it during the tail end of lunch, plus maybe Saturday had something to do with it. Stopped at a bar about 2 km before Trestina; taking a picture of a nice bit of landscape much enhanced by a church on top of a hill behind it, I'd asked a man in his garden what the church was (the shrine of Canoscio) whereupon he jumped to the conclusion — maybe this is a local trait that I was going to walk there, and told me it was too far to walk. Now I'd had no idea of any such thing but this put it in my head, and when I exhausted the meager charms of Trestina — a very large town by the way, maybe as big as Umbertide, utterly destroying my pre-trip idea, due to maps, that it was symmetrical with Pierantonio — of course I walked up to the shrine of Canoscio.​a

I really ought to read the guidebooks before I go places (hell, even afterwards would be a good idea); a few hundred meters from the absolute summit of the hill where the modern (19c) santuario di Canoscio is, there's a solid stone church, looking much older: doing my usual perambulation, I spotted a woman at a back window of the rectory, presumably the perpetua, and asked her what's the name of this church?​1 To which she: we just call it the Pieve (true) but I'll get the priest —

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Pieve di Canoscio: N wall of the nave, 14c representation of the Trinity.

The text is very similar, but not identical, to the passage of the Athanasian Creed: "And the Catholic faith is that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity."

Who then let me in; inside, a beauti­ful Romanesque structure and several very handsome medieval frescoes, in need though of serious restoration including a not-so‑handsome, but rare, three-headed Trinity (rather effaced, though); Don Cesare Pazzaglia served as parish priest of the unfindable church of Montecastelli (I missed it again this time, in another direction!) for 30 years, and before that of Lippiano; now he's a bit more retired — as retired as priests get — and has a bad back; but a fighter, an engaging man, with relatives I'll try to look up in Chicago. We chatted a bit in the rectory: I declined his offer of wine (in this case of course, santo) in favor of water — and eventually, tore up the hill to the modern sanctuary, which I peered at quickly, then down a footpath to Fabrecce,​b a shortcut to get me to my station at Sansecondo. At Fabrecce, it drizzled but I saw a beauti­ful rainbow, then it rained a bit more solidly but I saw one-third of a second bow: my fifth double rainbow after Florida, Terni, Tuscany and Devon Avenue. Looked for the third, no luck; but now that I know that doubles aren't that rare, I'm, typically, pushing my luck. . . .

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Double rainbow — and two waterspots on my lens — near Fabrecce, Umbria.

While it was raining — it stopped after no more than 500 m walking — a woman in a car stopped to offer me an umbrella! Endless generosity — I declined, telling her I was young (stupid, but that's what I said) but got her to confirm my direction to my train station; which I made in plenty of time, and soon I was home doing more laundry and stuff.

Sunday another very simple day. At 1030 I was in Piazza XXV Aprile, attending the whole mass and about half of the political speeches afterwards, mostly the entire speech by the mayor. It was a mildly pacifist occasion for the bishop to say things, treading gingerly — not a job I'd want — that weren't as anti-American as they could have been.

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Marking the 60th anniversary of the accidental British bombing of Umbertide, April 25, 1944.​c

Franco then picked me up at noon sharp in the same piazza now cleared of tutti quanti, and drove us back to his house where the entire tribe was assembled, about 25 people at one long table, to celebrate Chiara and Paolo's joint 71st birthday. I told a few racy stories and improvised Italian verse, all this on no more than 2 small glasses of wine, what do they put in that stuff anyway? The food quite good as usual, but Mariella didn't really get to sit down very much: her own birthday is May 31, by which time I'll be gone; I really ought to do something. I was very relaxed and enjoyed the family atmosphere a lot; avv. Carlo was in fine form, and Franco's mother was looking particularly beauti­ful —

As the lunch dribbled out, Franco whisked me off to the church of S. Vincenzo Ferrer, where the lower church of S. Sabino (S. Savino?) was open — once a year — and I looked at what was left after one, two, three recent thefts: so dozens of rich people have some insignificant stolen artifact, about which they know nothing and have of course been told lies, but which here would mean something.

Franco and I wouldn't have been ourselves if he hadn't dragged me off to S. Onofrio, then SS. Tommaso and Lazzaro — barely recognizable as a church, frankly, but again, important in its context of S. Maria di Pietrarossa and the Roman baths probably still existing in the 13c when Francis worked miracles here.

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S. Onofrio di Trevi.

Amusing bit of inconsistency at S. Savino when a man with some responsibility for the festivities and maybe for the church, told us absolutely no photographs — even of the outside! of the church — then 90 seconds later asked Franco if he could have Franco's photograph of some artefact that wound up among the stolen items. . . . Even more amusingly, Franco himself then pulled an inconsistency, waving at the walls of Trevi as we drove below them, explaining with approval how a single hook left in those walls wasº the only witness to the building of the new belfry of S. Emiliano since from that hook a stone-hauling system was anchored — then at Sant' Onofrio not three minutes later, explained how the idiot restorers had left in place two hooks that had merely served to hold a modern door in place, and really they should be removed. . . ! I pointed this out to him, of course.

Pitstop back at the Spellani house, party for the most part broken up, then Franco drove me the 70 kms back to casa mia in Umbertide, with the usual running commentary on various things (some of which for fear of forgetting I immediately transcribed onto my website); and so to bed.

Note in the Diary:

1 SS. Cosma e Damiano.

Later Notes:

a For the churches, see my pages; but the main claim to fame of this small place, about 7 km S of Città di Castello, is the find in 1935 (or in 1932, according to other sources) of a beauti­ful set of silverware — chalices, plates, other items — decorated with Christian themes and inscriptions. The "Canoscio treasure" (also: "Canoscio hoard") has been dated to the 6c. See the website of the Museum of the Duomo (Room I).

b The name of this village is seen spelled both Fabrecce and Fabbrecce; I haven't been able to determine whether one is to be preferred to the other.

c In 2002 a group of students at the high school of Umbertide wrote a book of poems memorializing each of the seventy people killed by the stray bomb. The book — in Italian of course — is excellent: a good historical record, a moving tribute. I was honored to be given permission by the city of Umbertide to reproduce it onsite: Voci della Memoria.

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