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Monday 10 July 2000

Bummer: despite precautions — yesterday I wound up staying put here, not leaving Fossato Alto — when this morning's 0430 alarm went off, I felt very bad, and, although I had to restrain Booby (who tried to tell me that it was just temporary and I'd feel better once I hit the road), I'm not climbing M. Cucco. It's about 1130 and I've drunk lots of tea and taken a hot bath and coughed (less) and sniffed and watched a program on World War I, and been grumbling inside, what a waste just for a dumb cold.

Yesterday I wrote Debi (from my office); also have reservations for the Grotta Azzurra in Norcia for tomorrow evening and the Agli Scacchi in Preci​a — making sure that the latter was in the centro storico and not some outlying frazione seein's I'll be getting there on foot; now I'm starting to worry that I might have a coughing fit during the performance of the Vespers, or that I'll be too sick to walk the (short, but mountainous) road to Preci. Still, I do feel better; although every evening I feel better then the next morning not quite so good again.

[. . .]

Today's excitement, so far: doing dishes and unplugging the sink strainer (a few bits of roasted peel of last night's pepper, in salata mechouiya), I found a scorpion! Not quite an inch long, very thin, pale brown, half of him claw: stretching them out far in front of him as he walked. He couldn't climb out of the sink: after taking a couple of photos (iffy), with a knife after a few tries got him into a glass then dumped out in the garden. I'll have to start checking drains before I get too close!

[image ALT: A close-up of a scorpion, about 1 cm long, attempting to climb out of an enameled sink.]

Lost visitor.

The 'adjusted' program for the day: the 1415 train to Terni gets there at 1537. A minimum amount of walking, train station not far from downtown there: an opportunity to buy a measuring tape and maybe other supplies — come to think of it to replenish on cash — maybe look at the amphitheatre a bit closer if possible; certainly also collect bus info for Marmore and Calvi at the very least. I wish there were a comprehensive bus schedule I could buy somewhere —

The morning was absolutely perfect for doing Cucco: cool, breezy — oh hell.

Back from Terni by 9:43 and up the hill just now; waiting for my bath water to warm a bit. Cold seems — cross my fingers — to be on its way out for real this time: for maybe a half hour this afternoon it wasn't there at all, but it always worsens in the evening. Still, just sniffles and a runny nose, occasional reminder of a cough.

Boy wuzzat a good idea to go to Terni: got all kinds of useful things done.

On arrival, started with the tape measure: asked in a stationery store, she sent me out across the street, but not before I had the brains to ask about pens, and lo! in Chicago these babies are increasingly rare, months without finding any anywhere; in Terni she had 'em: I got 8. What would scribbling Booby be without blue Paper Mate felt pens?

Across the street, an UPIM department store: I'd been there once before, in 1998 the day I walked to Stroncone and needed shoes. Today, the saleswoman at the same counter recognized me! (volunteering this information — I was of course stunned; typically, I didn't recognize her: I do wish I were a bit more of a people person). I got my measuring tape — horrifically, right now I'm 92 cm around the waist: a disaster, even if that's a liter of water on the train. I got 6 spoons. I got a bathing suit decent enough to be seen by an admiral's wife (I'm rather nervous about meeting Domenico!) —

I found a photographer who could order me a body cap; gave him 3 rolls of 36: sviluppo 6ML, the mini-strip 2500₤ extra. 10x15 cm prints would be 600₤ apiece, so that 180 rolls of prints would run roughly $1900, which is more than the best negative scanners: I did my calculations right. I called James and gave him the go-ahead (if he chose) on the scanner, with option to let me do it when I got back: it's not like I'm in some desperate rush to start scanning within an hour of landing in Chicago. James is fine; it poured buckets yesterday, Pliny refused to step outside in the morning, then when James's back was turned, pissed almost equal buckets on the kitchen floor (actually, that's pretty much the most considerate choice): James took him for his walk anyway, waiting 'til the rain was at its worst. . . .

Still!! couldn't find Sant' Alò — this is getting peculiar, armed as I am with maps and all — the Duomo façade totally under wraps, plus two large hearses outside covered with wreaths: zilch. The amphitheatre: this time, they're setting it up as an open-air theatre and visitors' center, so it was all torn up, fenced in, scaffolding, orange plastic, etc.: got a close-up look at some of the reticulatum, that's about it.

Round the bend, spotted Twining's in a window! Got a tin of Prince of Wales: same shop, seller of confectionery mostly, had crème de marrons!! Made in Italy, although near France: Borgo S. Dalmazzo. (This is 36¼″ waist talking; yet I haven't been eating a lot at all. Today for example: 2 yogurts, 2 sausage links, one tuna tramezzino, lots and lots of tea with milk mind you, and about 1½ liters of other fluids, mostly water — and I haven't been doing restaurants like in 97 and 98; and haven't had a single piece of chocolate since I left Chicago despite plenty of opportunity:​b I just haven't been wanting any. Mystery.)

Bookstore, 3 useful books, each with its flaws; one of which was the Pineschi (an outrageous price: 50 ML for a smallish paper-bound booklet! The bookstore clerk pointed that out, it shocked him too).

Finally, found a cheap Internet service: 65L a minute. Really very cheap indeed: less than $2/hour. Will almost certainly use them from time to time. Interzona, della Repubblica 1: open M‑F 1100‑2000h; they have a website at

Bath time. (Then, as Augustus Carp would say, a light but satisfying repast of yes, of course.)

Later Notes:

a A sad note: in 2017, I find that the hotel has now permanently closed.

b Not true. My own diary catches me out: a small chocolate bar in Sigillo on June 24, 80g of the stuff in Fabriano the very next day.

c The website now appears to be gone, although a blank page is still online.

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Page updated: 21 Oct 23