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Saturday 24 June 2000

The feast of St. John the Baptist; but amusing slice o' life yesterday at Sigillo, where I'd sat down three minutes on a bench near a little playground. On the other bench, two women (and a man, but he wasn't talking). One woman breaks the silence: "Tomorrow's St. John the Baptist." and the other shoots back right away, "So what? There's a saint every day." Tall thin pious — a bit disapproving-looking dark-haired younger woman; feisty somewhat older woman with thick greying hair responded. Surely close friends or sisters.

Anyhow, I've just woken up and gone and lit the water heater for my bath (actually so I can shave properly); it's 10:30. . . I slept immediately last night at about 8:45, but woke up midnite on the dot, didn't get back to sleep until 0330 — Still, that's over ten hours of sleep, and by the time I'm ready to go out, half the day gone, and me with a walk to go on.

Oof. Back — mad dogs and Englishmen, and since I'm not English. . . Brutal sun. At first, down from the Rocca at 12:30 to Osteria, it looked like a fairly cool day, but it definitely was not. I thought at first that I'd go to Colbassano, maybe Branca, a little circuit; 'cept I never found the road to Colbassano, so wound up on the Statale to Gubbio, and for a while, why not? even thought I might go there (and come back by bus): instead I did the typical Booby thing, I saw a sign with a coupla placenames I didn't recognise, and that was irresistible and off I went. Corraduccio was in fact about 100 m from the sign, a knot of four houses just off the road — and there I was told that Baccaresca had a nice castle, if disabitato.​a Well it does, and I saw it from a distance, on the right bank of the Chiáscio, and I was on the left bank and stayed there, no way of crossing: the bridge must have been right after Corraduccio. Instead, a slightly winding strada bianca under increasingly broiling sun, arms, chest, back, the back of my legs, but mostly my scalp, which hurts, the rest only tingles now. More immediately, I was near heat stroke at one point; my peripheral vision actually blurred. Almost no shade anywhere, and my last water at Corraduccio; very glad for brief cloud covers, not frequently enough — and ecstatic when about 1 km before Sigillo (because that's where that infernal road eventually went to) a pump at a crossroads. I pretty much bathed in it, and drank, and sat in the short shade of the shrine of the Virgin it was next to, and drank, and poured water on my head, and sat —

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An Umbrian oak in the broiling heat:
in the background, Sigillo at the foot of M. Cucco.

Sigillo, did the same in an urban version: sat at a caffé and had a small ice cream cone (melon, lemon, raspberry, very nice) and 1.5 liters of fizzy water, and spaced out for thirty minutes: 5000₤ including a small chocolate bar — then walked back here, quick cool bath, and back out to the alimentari: fruit juice, red pepper, salsa tartufata — bumped into Mario and Prof. Galassi on the way there; palavers at the alimentari. It's 8 o'clock now — S. Sebastiano just rang — and I'm exhausted, all that for only 17 km.

To boot, nothing of any particular interest or beauty, except for occasional patches of countryside: and even there, the plain is getting Folignoized, they're on their way to a disaster if it keeps up, as it almost certainly will, another 5 years.

Lots of little wildflowers, nothing extraordinary; the proof is how many of them I recognize: scabious (amply fed with limestone, that's for sure), linaria of two different kinds, lunaria, lots of malva althea, clematis, a number of Compositae mostly small yellow but also a classic daisy; my blue thing that I like from previous trips, still don't know what it is; a purplish-pink dicentra-family or maybe scrofulariacea; occasional teazel, rather nice, always isolated plants.

The most interesting thing was at Purello, a woman popped out of nowhere, asked if I were American, then introduced herself as the deputy mayor of Fossato and if there was anything the comune could do to make my stay better, to please let them know, and the mayor would like to meet me as well. This was both alarming and gratifying, and establishes a nice balance: next time I nearly faint thru stupidity on some dismal back road, I can remember that deputy mayors pop out of bushes to do me favors; alternately, when I'm out there doing ingente sito sull' Umbria things, I can remember that I'm the same Booby who burnt his little bare scalp to a crisp today.

Anyway, after dinner I hope I'll go to sleep and stay asleep; tomorrow's festa after all starts around 10:30, I need to be up and about.

Later Note:

a Uninhabited no more; now a luxury spa and hotel.

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Page updated: 20 Oct 23