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Thursday 8 April 2004

This is now slowly turning into the least happy of my 5 stays in Umbria, with no solution in sight. I've lost a week to illness, am still not well, the hot water is kaput again, I feel stranded and at the same time pursued, and I'm acutely conscious of spending too much money while achieving very little — and it's not like I'm at least having some kind of grand time, no matter how frivolously.

A very quick summary of my time since the last entry:

— Wednesday 31 the sun clambered out so strong while I was on my train to Terni (a makework idea just to avoid merely sitting around the house) that I got off at Cesi and visited that town properly after all these years of near-misses. I ate at la Caprareccia 600 m beyond the west gate, and had a very decent meal (a B+) but paid for it by getting caught in a cold rain, which in turn gave me one of the worst flus I've had in twenty years.

— Thursday April 1st, Franco and I'd tentatively scheduled for going to find the tomb at Faggeto, then we backed out because of the weather reports. As the morning looked better and better, I took a train to Perugia, still unclear where I'd wind up, then on impulse called him and we agreed to meet at PSG and chase our tomb down. We found it, and well worth it (account of the day very much abridged).​a

— when I got back, just around 7:something I realized I was starting not to feel good, dashed into the pharmacy for something to ward off symptoms so I could go to Edda's dinner party on the following day. I followed instructions, and the stuff racked me out for a miserable sweaty diuretic night but by 2 P.M. Friday I felt fairly good, got up, and went to Edda's and had a pleasant if subdued time.

— Saturday 3, woke up feeling OK, and had made arrangements with Judith Greenwood to see the bridge at Apecchio. She met me at the 0732 train in Castello, we saw our bridge, then we went and had lunch in Corinaldo — after a failed stop in Fossombrone where the Ristorantino S. Lucia has gone belly-up. The hot water had gone out in the morning, no bath.

— Sunday 4 James's birthday I was very sick, but called him from bed.

— Monday 5 I was almost as sick. In the evening finally a technician came to the house, flipped a switch and I did then have hot water. A hot bath.

— Tuesday 6 another hot bath. I though I was well enough to go somewhere and do something, and even got to the station and bought a ticket, but realized this was premature, and I went back home to bed.

— Yesterday Wednesday 7 I finally was better, and went to Spello, arriving just before 7 P.M. and staying at the Albergo del Teatro. I ate at the Pinturicchio, now gone quite downhill: still owned by Vania and her children Lara and Mirko, but farmed out to others for 3 years in 2002; long conversation with Vania at her new store (far less tiring than her 12 years cooking at the Pinturicchio), and I'm far, far from the first person to stop by and tell her the same thing: she sounds like she might be regretting it a bit, but —

— This morning beauti­ful weather in Spello; I went for a walk down into the Prato, then to S. Girolamo, then lunch on the balcony at the Cacciatore, such a beauti­ful landscape. Long chat with Mirko. Also, yesterday, with Giuliana (everyone fine though Orlando's looking even frailer); with Mario and Giuseppina; with various members of the family that run the Albergo del Teatro and the Cacciatore. The Cappella Tega, for once, was open: I took pictures again with this better camera, but also snagged in some of the usual tourists perfectly ready to walk right on by or give the room a vague peer, without even looking — and yet, the first time I saw the place, it's not like I had any special knowledge about it, just a pair of eyes for God's sakes. Left Spello by the 5:09 P.M. train and was back here at around 6:20, a good connection.

Got here and immediately the hot water wouldn't come on, same problem as last time — Irene unreachable by the time I realized I'd better call. Not feeling well still, a bit sweaty and feverish, a bit sniffy, occasional coughing fit quite dreadful. I was at the end of my rope, called James at his office, and now feel much better; but am still considering anticipating my return to the States, missing him and Pliny and my own house and the sheer convenience of life in America, at least for now and until we turn in like the cowering defensive huddle of scared sheep that Europe has battered itself into — yet it may well be that the great American openness and trust (that has so far allowed us to live undefensively, thus making our efforts productive of real convenience) is ultimately misplaced.

Later Note:

a Although I never wrote up these "missing" days, the most interesting items did make it onsite:

3 pages and 15 photos on the Etruscan tomb at Faggeto

6 pages and 23 photos on the attractive little town of Cesi

My quick notes above also fail to mention the beauti­ful and impressive bronzes of Cartoceto, larger-than‑life Roman gilt bronze statues of two men on horseback and two women: found at Cartoceto, a frazione of Pergola (not to be confused with the comune of Cartoceto, a different place not very far away), they have now been restored and can be seen in the Museo dei Bronzi Dorati in Pergola.

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