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Monday 26 June 2000

Better. Not quite right, yet, but better: asleep at 10:30 last night, slept all the way thru, finally, and just woke up a few minutes ago at 0840. Ten hours still! And to think that at home I routinely sleep only five to six; I wonder if it still has to do with the catastrophe: I'd been crediting my abbreviated sleeping hours (day in-out, with no ill effects) to a change in metabolism, but maybe it's not true.

Furthermore, no desire at all to get up and do anything. . . This afternoon at 4‑4:30 Paolo is going to take me fonino shopping in Gualdo, though, so if I don't watch out, it'll be a lost day: time to get up and close the shutters (gusty but clear, warm day out there, don't want to heat up the house) then go climb a hill or something.

6:15 and I'm back; in for the day, with a bit of a sunburn on the upper shoulders: the next coupla days I'll play urban to let the burn sink into a tan.

Light grocery shop and lunch and left the house around 11:15 to do the Valico di Fossato, an easy walk of something like 5 km and back, and indeed I was back at 3. An interesting walk because the old road up to the Pass (733 m) may have been the diverticulum ab Helvillo Anconam, at least Prof. G. feels it is; something like it, surely, as long as one believes that the branch road had something to do with the Ponte S. Giovanni, anyway. If the road went thru here, it more or less had to be the road I walked, via the Madonnella and up to the Valico and back down to Fabriano, generally; since the modern road and the railroad both run thru very long and recently-built tunnels: in Roman times, the lower paths were dead ends, certainly.

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The road to the Valico di Fossato, looking back westwards to the plain.

My walk was pleasant, comfortably cool to comfortably warm depending; almost carfree, maybe one every five minutes (or one ad hoc caravan: slow truck and trail of three to six no doubt exasperated car drivers behind it). Nice breeze.

On the way out, for the third time now, French-speakers; I stopped to talk to a black-and‑white bulldog in the Borgo, and fell to chatting with his owner, a woman born in Belgium, lives there in fact, vacations here, but family originally from here. The pot aux roses: "in 1926‑1930" the area was very poor and there was no work, people left in droves, for France, Belgium, Luxembourg (begging the question why there and not Germany or other parts of Italy); she said the woman I talked with at S. Apollinare di Purello was of one of those families. (The first person who spoke French was the very day I arrived, in line at the post office, as did, to some extent, the postman at the window.)

Anyway, out the Borgo via the S.P. 238 on which the Ristorante "dal Cinese", closed Tuesdays, mandatory opening (!) Mondays and Wednesdays — and unevent­ful not steep shoelace rise to the Valico: small oaks, some pine. In a couple of places the asphalt had worn to underlying cobblestone, maybe early 20c. My little flutterbys elsewhere around here, about an inch and a half across, black with large white teardrops merging splotchwise, gave way higher up to colonies of black ones, and here and there pretty little orange ones about a third of an inch across, also light blue skippers, one large white flutterby. Devil to photograph, prolly didn't catch any. . . .

At the Valico around 1, nothing much — pleasant view down into the Marche, statue of Jesus erected in 1956 and already the low-relief inscription, though carved, pretty much effaced; boundary cippus of some interest, marking the Prov. di Ancona on one side, and the "Provincia dell' Umbria" on the other, thus dating it 1927 at the latest; also, despite being deeply carved, it is worn to near-unreadability especially on the E (Marche) side: in something like just 80 years.

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At the Valico di Fossato, looking E into the Marche.

Down exactly the same way; unpromising start, since from the cow patties at the pass I'd picked up a retinue of volitating flies, small shuttle-shaped ones of a kind I'd never seen before, that it took about 700 m to shed, after which clear pleasant sailing down to the highway, along it a few hundred yards, then back up to the Borgo and home.

Warm bath with the left-over tank of hot water from yesterday, by scrunching up like an ice dancer I can soak most of me in the little step-seated tub, only a coupla legs to the breeze: and breeze there is, thru the bathroom window, even though basically closed, and across the house out the front window of the TV room. Very cool, felt like 55° even; very pleasant now, wonder what winter is like here. Positively chilled, got ready slowly, and at fourish found Paolo at "my balcony", i.e. at the front door over­looking the sunken garden; we talked a bit — fonino store doesn't open 'til 4:30 — then off to Gualdo.

The commercial strip, a mall, maybe 15 shops, among which the TIM, the fonino store. On one model that can handle "l'estero": ₤710.000 including recharger; phonecards cost ₤100.000 and can apparently be bought at tabaccai etc.

One problem, though. For some incomprehensible reason — ours not to wonder why, just curse bureaucracies and die — the thing can't be bought without presenting a passport (OK) and one's "codice fiscale", a sort of individual tax identifier that every Italian has, compounded of exactly the same information that's in your documento in the first place; and that, of course I don't have. . . so it'll be off to the comune tomorrow morning to get a codice fiscale — and Paolo gallantly offering to schlep me back to Gualdo again — I in turn will take him out to lunch, his the choice of restaurant; a good deal all the way round, actually.​a

Paolo — retired just this year from a long career with the railway, finishing as chief of maintenance at the Fossato yard — took me up to the wind power generators on top of the Cima di Mutali (1120 m); splendid 360° true panorama, good chunk of the Apennines, large swath of NE Umbria, nearly to Scheggia (round a bend behind a hill, but Costacciaro, Sigillo; not Fossato since hid by the mountain itself; to Gualdo, Nocera and Foligno, this last, typically, a smoggy smudge at the end of the valley. Subasio very characteristic loaf-shaped hiding Spello and Assisi; other hills hiding Perugia and Gubbio. Cool in our short-sleeved shirts up there; married couple wearing light sweaters; bicyclist insanely repeating the hill: we saw him turn around as he got to the top almost, then twenty minutes later on our way back to Fossato, we crossed him pedaling up again. Bicycling not for me, and definitely not these hills.

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Looking NNE from the Cima del Mútali, locally known as "Le Pale" (the windmills): Repeater station and behind it the two wind power generators run by Anemon S. p. A. The valley in the distance includes the Via Flaminia from Sigillo to near Scheggia.

Voilà; caught up. Nothing much, une continuation de ma rentrée en douceur, sauf pour ce sacré coup de soleil: gotta remember this ain't September. Anyway I expect tomorrow with the comune and the fonino and lunch, then Wednesday with my trip to Trevi to get olive oil, two quiet days.

[Forgot to record that I did finally find my little red clock, in my camera bag — good — on the other hand seem to have lost my body cap, the damn thing was always slipping off, somewhere between the Valico and the Galleria della Madonnella on the way down; less good: fortunately I have a spare.]

8:10, after a variant of my usual dinner: spaghetti with a pepper, butter and marsala sauce, half a glass of that same bottle of Amabile (which went surprisingly well with that), and a strawberry yogurt, in bed, alarm set for 6 to try to get back to a normal schedule gradually, books and maps at hand, but I've really got to find something other than antiquities to read — and not uncomfortable from the sunburn — forgot to record yet another thing: my pitstop, accidental, at the Pro Loco this morning round 10:30 or so. I went in saying gee nifty you're open — which was immediately understood by the man at the desk as some kind of reproach, since met with "well, the times are posted"; I in turn repeated yes I'd seen that, gee it's nice you're open, how I'm looking forward to my long stay here. . . Anyway a packet of literature, incl. one valuable item, if finally the kind of thing I call a "tertiary" source, but new information to me, on Bastardo, the Flaminia, the Ponte del Diavolo and related history: all the more welcome that the stretch from Massa to Bevagna I haven't done at all yet.

They also field groups of tourists, usually Italian, sometimes not; with which there is a language problem — I volunteered for French and English: they get advance notice, I told Mario (guy at desk) he could ring me and if in town sure I'd help, and that as soon as I had a fonino I'd give 'em the number.

Later Note:

a For the end of this saga, which will correct what you think you've just learned if you merely stop here, keep right on going to the next entry.

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