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Wednesday 28 June 2000

A bit past 7:30 P.M., back home after a day spent in Trevi, almost all of it in the company of Franco Spellani, and roughly half of it eating. . . Not going to lose untold numbers of pounds that way, but for me it was a sort of celebration of being back.

This morning I woke up a first time on my own at six, then went right back to sleep and got up around 8, finally. Slow in getting to sleep last night, but at least no insomnia, I hope that's over and done with for the duration. Ran the water heater for my bath and put a large pot of water to boil on the stove, plus the napoletana:º then up to make bed, organize for the day etc., then breakfast when the coffee was ready; by the time I'm thru with breakfast, the pot of water has boiled to do dishes with; by the time I've done the dishes the bath water is hot enough to turn it off: quick bath, shave, got it down to a system now. Out the door at 0936, arriving at the station around 0950 so it's not 2 km, more like 1½. Round-trip ticket to Trevi 10600L: ticket window couldn't change a 50ML bill, but that was OK, I went to the giornalaio to thank him for good advice yesterday, and to buy a recharge for my fonino 110 ML and he walked me thru it, and in fact it's not quite intuitive. Corriere dell' Umbria; train on time 1013.

On the train, I read the paper; the only thing I remember was a poor Dalmatian got poisoned near Piegaro while on a walk with its people, from eating poisoned meat (like Elisabetta's wonder­ful dog in Spello in '98). Within a very few minutes the people found the dog gone too long; it was lying down very sick. They got it to the vet fast, who administered salt water if I remember correctly, he started to improve then failed anyway.

1056 on time in Trevi, and the long climb; stopping here and there to take pictures, especially of the churches of S. Chiara and S. Croce and the Colleggetto, a good Renaissance house near a gate. Scaffolding much in evidence thruout Trevi, as for example at the Colleggetto, as opposed to '98: not very pretty, and a lot of work remains, but it's finally a start towards full reconstruction. The Duomo completely enshrouded in impalcature, per Franco. Maybe in a coupla years it'll be open again.

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One of the gates in the medieval walls of Trevi as I made my way up the hill.

Arrived at Pro Trevi at 12:06, called Franco from there; told him I was quite unprepared to do any serious Flaminia quite right yet, since I hadn't done any real homework, i.e., got a hold of Radke/Sigismondi; that I was there to say hello and buy olive oil. Now I thought it was my turn to do lunch but he swore up and down it was his, so off we went to eat and chiacchierare, about three and a half hours worth at the Ristorante Maggiolini (dei fratelli Gigli — maybe distantly related to Beniamino, who was after all from not far from here — v. S. Francesco, 20; 0742.381.534 closed Tuesdays). We sat in a corner and wound our way thru a very copious antipasto misto — various small bruschette incl. one of zucchini purée, bits of sausage, pickled vegetables, ham, melon, mozzarella, a cheese I didn't think to ask about, and the most interesting item, what looked like raw lima beans, but was faba beans, quite green and young, very good with salt — then two primi, little strip noodles with fresh new mushrooms of the season, green ravioli (cheese, zucchini); two secondi, strips of roast beef in a thick balsamic vinegar sauce, then a very tender stew of beef or maybe veal, a bit of tomato, more like a sauce espagnole actually; a 1998 Antonelli Monte­falco, which we drank too young but quite good. We both said no to dessert, although I flirted with the chocolate mousse but I'm a purist and they said it was cocoa-based — grappa di Moscato (from up in the corner as almost always), the usual superb coffee that I miss so much when I go back home.

Franco his usual energetic fount of information, stories and ideas; I didn't realize how heavily involved he is in olive oil, both in terms of technical knowledge and participation with the Cooperativa Olio di Trevi Bovara; I learned a good deal about the politics (thus mostly unpleasant) of olive oil, including some of the anomalous story resulting in two very similar brands, "Olio di Trevi" the coöperative and "Olio Trevi", a commercial offshoot that parted ways with the other none too amicably: the definite impression I got was that to be sure of actual origin from Trevi, you need to buy from the Cooperativa (another earful about the politics of certifying DOC and DOP olive oil: based on location, content — 60% Moraiolo although around Trevi it's often 90+%, only the pollinating trees being of another cultivar — and farming method. But. . .)​a

Pit stop again at ProTrevi where Laura was amused to tell me, and I to hear, that I'm one of the more locally famous Americans here because of this diary and its photomontage of the Sagra del Sedano; Franco and others sifted my English thru Babelfish or some other actually unnamed "traduttore automatico" — the combination of my idiosyncratic prose and the curious workings of machine translation, plus my unpredictable take on what I see, must have made for some odd reading indeed — I promised them more mirth in Trevi, I'm writing more of that stuff tonight. . . .

So down to the Cooperative, 3 liters of oil, some strangozzi, a bottle of Sagrantino — there too Franco a fount of information: before all Sagrantino was passito, until about 50 years ago when one vintner started the secco — and on to an alimentari in Borgo Trevi by which time Franco'd told me he was going to drive me home, so I might as well tank up; so I did, a bit: two pair of sausages, some ricotta, Bel Paese, Gorgonzola — all these years I didn't know it can be either dolce or piccante, got smidgins of each to compare — a bottlet of Alchermes, a bottle of Viparo, some garlic now that I have oil.

And Franco drove me back, lending me a bag of books, his choice (and I definitely concur in the case of those 3 I knew of) of what I should read to get a bead on the Flaminia; for full reference à toutes fins utiles:

and the last, Proceedings of a Conference:

Not exactly the light reading I need to housify my stay in Fossato; although in fact the Pineschi (Regione dell' Umbria: Giunta Regionale) is an expanded booklet, and the Uncini is really a book of nice pictures. But together, they'll give me a skeleton to hang my walks on. Like an idiot I forgot to pack my Lazio Flaminia book; I know of no Flaminia Marchigiana resource.

Forgot to mention, among very many other things, that Franco, taking a cue from a stray musing in my diary, tried to track down the placename Matigge; I was very gratified indeed to learn that the first part, at least, of my wild surmise, was absolutely correct: the toponym, tracked back as far as he's been able to so far (12c cartularies of the monastery of Sassovivo, found walled up in a church of Spoleto — this may need correction later, I may've got the details garbled — in the mid‑20c) it was indeed Villa Matidia. Of course climbing up the slippery slope of toponymy to historical fact, preferably with some archaeology to back it up, is another matter, but the first intuitive piece was right. Now, as I told Franco, if I can only remember where I read, recently too! that Nerva was an Umbrian (the usual stuff being that Trajan was Spanish because born in Spain) — and then there's Vespasian: I told Franco that he and I would go to Biselli and find the Villa of the Vespasii. . . .

In another area though this vaunted intuition didn't work at all: got back, ran the washmachine at 7, just now (9:30) stopped whir-drying; and wouldn't you know it, after a beauti­ful sunny day, not overly hot (max 27C, quite pleasant 'cept struggling up hills), it rained. Not much, but still drizzling: not the time to be hanging wash on my outside line. Found places to drape decorous bits of underwear on, indoors. Washmachine, though as dogged as its Todi version that I was so mesmerized by in '94, much less entertaining. It doesn't take you thru a calliope of grindings, it doesn't walk around the floor, it doesn't spew water atcha unpredictably, it doesn't stop for long periods to try to fool you it's done, only to catch you out by churning suddenly as you approach to unload it. . . A very poor excuse for laundry entertainment, and hardly worth getting up every half-hour to look at. . . .

Later Note:

a Inevitably, this passage caught the attention of a reader who is a member of the competing cooperative, which the diary refers to as "Olio Trevi". I am indebted to Mr. Ernesto Guidobaldi, one of its 45 local olive grower members, for explaining to me among other things why I couldn't be certain I'd found the proper website for them; their official name is Società Agricola Trevi Il Frantoio, and their website includes information on their products, and an opportunity to purchase them online. The cooperative's olive oil is certified DOP Colli Assisi-Spoleto, and its quality assurance standards are ISO‑9002 certified.

More generally speaking, if you are unfamiliar with Umbria you have my own assurance that in five stays in the region totalling almost a year of my life I have never once had Umbrian olive oil that was less than excellent; Trevi, as I say in various other places onsite, is the center of quality: and that pride in their product is what inspires passions all round!

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