Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail: Bill Thayer 
[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

Sunday 2 July 2000

In bed, 0740; woke up on my own at 0600, don't want to do the 26 km up to M. Cucco and back, and now, practically, it's too late anyway; I'd thought last night that I might do it this morning, but purposely didn't set the alarm. Will prolly do a token walk up to the windmills, and spend most of the day figuring out Radke, who I find dense and full of information (and strong opinions) but curiously disorganized; still, this is the time, speaking of which, to get organized myself and allot time to the Flaminia, then Umbria and Rome.

My luck seems to have run bad a bit on me since yesterday. This morning I woke up to find a dead phone instead of a recharged one; the only thing I can figure out is that I overcharged it: they tell you in fine print not to, yet don't say anywhere you'll be out a phone if you do. Either that or it got fried here like my portable in 97: there was a one-minute outage two or three days ago when I was in the kitchen.

Resuming my account of yesterday: at Rimini I was real sharp at the train station, very long line at the single window open, and me wanting just a ticket to Pesaro with a train leaving in about 8 minutes; I used a ticket machine, got it figured out nicely, had the right change, and it worked: for 4100₤ I had my ticket — departure Binario 2E. And by the time I found the special East platforms tucked away in a distant corner of the station, and having been to Binario 2 etc. — was rewarded by the sight of the caboose of my 1250 train puffing off to Pesaro about 30 meters after departure. Another at 1344.

Slowish train, all-stop; on the way in I'd noticed that Riccione looks very nice, shaded, central to the friendly little station, shopping street reminding me a bit of S. Marta in Colombia — I've since been told it's a party place full of kids on drugs. Of course maybe that's a very jaundiced view, and then I don't have to do stupid things myself, but I try to stay away from problems, so I now have mixed feelings based on doubtless inaccurate information, about a place I've never been.

Pesaro frankly I'd been expecting another horrible town like Fano — yes, the guidebooks praise the sights, but from reading them on Fano I could never have got an idea of what it's really like — or at best dull like Jesi. It's not: Pesaro is a nice place, and I'll prolly go back for a full day; Flaminia, but mostly the museum etc.

Right off wandering in from the station Via del Risorgimento, pleasant, shaded; the first building to pop out at me was the regional postal headquarters: the ex-church of S. Domenico, with a good Gothic door, good sculpture, click-click. This nothing compared to the Palazzo del Governo on the main piazza right next: a wonder­ful building, economical of means, but very beauti­ful elegant yet power­ful arcaded façade with an axial vista into the sancta sanctorum, or the door thereto, in a large simple courtyard. This courtyard door one of the finest pieces, if not very large mind you, of Renaissance sculpture I've seen anywhere: quite the quality of Blois (I can hear Italian and Renaissance purists cringe at this. . .!). Affable uniformed guard, I was able to spend a full twenty minutes in the courtyard and nearly a roll of film.

[image ALT: missingALT]
Piazza del Popolo, Pesaro: detail of the fountain by Lorenzo Ottoni (1685).

Beauti­ful late‑17c fountain of sea horses in the center of the piazza, if surrounded by the trappings of an outdoors manifestazione: tents, metal barriers, seating area laid out in front of a giant movie screen stretched over the NE side of the square (to the right of the Palazzo Ducale as you look at it), etc. Still, a beauti­ful work of art; for this guy who sneezes at anything later than about the 13c, to like Pesaro shows unexpected openmindedness!

Worse yet, down the v. Gioacchino Rossini — they don't let you forget he was born here — although on the right his birthplace a solid impenetrable mass of scaffolding, on the left a good door and wrought iron balcony, 18c: prolly the Palazzo Mosca mentioned in DeAgostini. And it gets even worse: beauti­ful late 18c interiors and courtyards a bit further down the street.

[image ALT: missingALT]

Palazzo Lazzarini, 53 via Gioacchino Rossini: built in 1790.

Across the street, pleasant if no stars church, turned out to be the Duomo. Nice façade, in I go, and a late-antique mosaic at about a meter below the current floor level, under glass, and lit: an inscription in honor of S. Maria et al. in a tondo, very fine work — and what appeared to be an endless beauti­fully preserved geometric mosaic stretching out under the floor of the church, with wires all over the place for the lights. Well, there were no signs not to photograph, so I get ready to take my picture, when a man almost at the altar shouts "no photography!" — so of course I immediately bring my camera down, and sort of stand there, a bit shell-shocked (the church is large, and I'm not used to being shouted at in churches, although I can remember the sacristan or verger at Amiens hollering at people and banging his stick on the floor) — Anyway, shell-shocked when he shouts at me again: "No photography! Go away!" I left immediately, as fast as I could, back to the v. Rossini towards the sea, but wasn't even seeing straight, turned aroundº and started heading back as fast as I could to the train station — still mad as I write, nearly wrote "as fast as I can" — and was met mid-street, and approached, by said sampetrino or whatever exactly he was, and a young woman: she too had been talking to him about the accessibility of the mosaics — I got a sort of apology, he was only doing his job I said, but why was there no sign at the door — the first thing I look for and am so damn scrupulous observing when in a church, which is really why I felt so assaulted in there — ah blame someone else, a carpenter took it away yesterday, etc.

Needless to say, the church sells a video of the mosaic: a huge late antique surface (with I'm told an earlier one under it) extending the whole footprint of the Duomo and beyond, out under the present outside parvis, and if that tiny segment I saw is to judge by, of outstanding quality and prolly interest as well. Still, I absolutely certainly won't be buying any videos, and my stomach and tendency to reaction formation being what they are, will prolly not be able to go into that church again. (Now, really, what would it harm them to allow a stray tourist to take a photo of this tiny piece of mosaic — and very likely, I was thinking it as I prepared to shoot my one pic, the photos would never be publication-quality — and reap the goodwill? Notion of goodwill and similar accounting practices, to be crassly pecuniary about it, such as an allowance for in-store losses, amply compensating the cost of measures to counteract 'em, typically and effectively American, finally: the contortions involved in shopping even in some large stores in France a few years ago although that seems to be changing slowly.)

Anyway, after that encounter, Pesaro became a blur; accompanied by my young woman, Cinzia Pianelli, from Pergola (address: [. . .]) who had clearly taken it on herself to rescue me and undo the damage — she is a student of Renaissance art — on the way to the station she took me to the APT which, prodded, pumped me full of literature and access information; but also to a private courtyard of great charm, a building she especially liked. I was grateful altho still dazed, to the point that I didn't even think to take any pictures; she'd lived out of the province for some years and has now come back, with a heightened awareness as she said of what visitors feel. She also offered to squire me about in Pergola, where with much publicity the extraordinary gilt bronze Roman horses so long in restoration (I was unable to see them 2 years ago in Ancona with James) have come back — the Cartoceto bronzes, Cartoceto is the exact località of the find in Pergola. I may indeed take her up on it, not only for the horses but also because of a Flaminia-related road or something I vaguely remember, anyhow the place was on my list of things to see in the Marche.​a

Still so dazed afterwards that on the train all the way to Fossato I just sat; I wish I didn't let myself be so affected by even minor bullying and assaults. At Fossato stazione, an APM bus, large shiny blue, waiting; going to Gubbio, but not via the paese: I rolled my suitcase up the hill, not a bad climb at all really, glad it wasn't raining though; and that I'd had the prescience to pick a late return precisely so the climb wouldn't be too hot. It wasn't; home fine at 8:30, nice to be back.

So: this morning, start organizing my stay. I have only 81 days and the clock ticking — literally, behind me now in the kitchen a large round dark green electric clock that tix rather loud — and these essential items to cover, in approx. descending order:



Fossato area

Umbria generally

plus my invite from Domenico Carro, very kind of him indeed, and which'll be a very nice break and widen my horizons a bit.

Ah! A good feeling about today. At 10:30 I went and sat in my "office" for the first time and worked at all that planning, all the way thru 5:15 with just a little break somewhere around 1:30 when the Rossi family invited me to have torta with them, and a coupla glasses of (good) Verdicchio di Jesi over my strenuous and very real objections since pretty much on an empty stomach and I knew I'd be doing some climbing afterwards: still, no harm done at all, pleasant break. Mrs. (Assunta) Rossi, at 86, in remarkably good shape, still does most of the cooking, gets around, seems to enjoy life a good deal more than I do.

The six and more hours of plotting, in my "office" — under the fig tree in my giardino, nice big table to lay everything out on, comfortably cool despite near-broiling heat in the sun two steps away — like the goose that laid a mouse, but not really. It looks like my stay will be constructed around several 4‑day walks (no magic in the number 4, but coincidence, the main problem here being 3 changes of clothes in my camera bag), filling in the holes with days in Rome, or other single days to see specific things, mostly in Umbria. The details, including plans B in case day 3 is pouring rain for example, to be worked out later: as Marianne used to say, I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

[image ALT: missingALT]

In my 'office'. Photo by Mario Rossi.

From triangulating Radke-Sigismondi with Uncini and the, tertiary though it is, received opinions of the rest of 'em, it appears that I have a wrong historical perspective on the Flaminia: Sena Gallica and Sentinum​b have moved to the top of the list now. By intuition (rather than luck, I think I can give the viscera some credit here) here in Fossato I'm within walking distance of Sentinum, and it's clearly a walk I need to do to get the feel of the terrain in my legs, both from the standpoint of the battle but more importantly the basic crux of the whole Flaminia: it is between here and Sentinum that the road crossed the Apennines; and without that, there would be no Flaminia: it's the whole point of the road.

And speaking of walking, at 5:15 I folded up shop, ate a good chunk of Bel Paese and a tin of tuna in oil with lotsa capers, the last two tomatoes, a glut of prophylactic water, and 1.5‑liter bottle in hand, off I went to the Pale on top of the Cima del Mútali at 5:45. It's an easy climb, but it was still hot, and I'm not in perfect shape.

Up the path that starts right along the Rossi garden next to mine; the last 500 m, maybe a bit more, rejoin the road. A dull hot walk; entertainment none, save lepidopteral, never seen so many in my life, in spots clouds of 'em, and maybe a total of thirty species along the way: a flutterbyologist's dream, but for me just another thing I don't know much about. Also, the last 500 m of the shaded rocky gravel path before the asphalt near the top, some very persistent flies and me sweating fly nectar damn 'em; came very near to spoiling the whole walk for me, arms doing constant fly-whisk duty, in a nasty imitation of the windmills.

As soon as I hit the road, though, immediately better; plus cooler and windier with every step, although not as cool as the other day with Paolo. Very pleasant at the top: blazing sun, yet cool. Views to Fabriano and ranges behind it, to Foligno smudging the pass at the bottom of Subasio, to the hill just in front of Scheggia: this last against the Sun, of course. The windmills themselves true works of art; if I were a sculptor I'd be very proud to have created them. Quiet, just a slight periodic whoosh; the period of the sound doesn't seem to relate exactly with the passage of the blades, I stood there and tried to count it. Immense storklike things: I went up to one and couldn't help doing the 2001 Space Odyssey thing, it was eerie and funny. Around the base of at least the lower one, a scrubby ring of Q. Umbriae, maybe 20 of 'em, had been planted no farther than 2 feet from the column: not waist-high, reminded me of the flags and the base of the Washington Monument, better left undone (although had they put 50 state flags, that would be moving — but we've gone past that in our history, and deify the Über-state by playing games with flags —).

[image ALT: missingALT]

"Le Pale": the wind power generators on the Cima del Mútali, built by Anemon SpA (see Educambiente's page: the detailed report of a school field trip with a particularly interesting set of photographs, disfigured only by misspelling the name of the site).

Then, like the bear, having seen what there was to see, walked down; idiotic, of course, since after anything else, too — after the Palazzo Ducale, it's to move on and get insulted by a church-chaouche. . . (Booby, let it go!) —

Back home at 8:10. Foot pain — that sharp bone thing in the right heel — seems to be going away these days; also a huge, if painless, blister covering most of my little toe, same foot, just burst. Need to get pharmaceutical supplies in Rome tomorrow, just to be safe. (And a bathing-suit: called Adm. Carro this evening to say thanks and touch base; I'll be going to Lavinio for a weekday prolly around the 20th-25th of the month, and he mentioned beach and bathing suit.)

So voilà; ensconced in bed, having had the last two links of Trevi sausage and a yogurt and more water, and have a glasslet of Viparo and the mystery I'm slogging thru. Phone decided to work; that was a scare. Now my routine: walk in the door, plug in the phone; when I go to bed, switch over to the bedside lamp: it's just about perfect for recharging.

Later Notes:

a I finally saw the bronzes a few years later; see Apr. 8, 2004. They're usually called the Pergola bronzes, the parent township bagging the credit rather than the actual village where the find was made.

b Sentinum is one of those Roman sites in central Italy that I never get to. It doesn't help that I've been told it's on the dull side, nor that I'm not big on battlefields. The page at Livius explains the importance of the battle and includes photographs. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1976), as reproduced at Perseus, focuses on archaeological finds and includes a bibliography.

The first paragraph of the encyclopedia, however, is not a success. For starters, it puts Sentinum in the wrong place: it's not E of Sassoferrato but SSW of the town. The portion of the site that has now been excavated is partly in Civita — also La Civita, better yet: Civita Roselle — and partly in S. Lucia on the other side of the SP 16 road, named for a church built there in the Middle Ages (good photoillustrated pages on the now deconsecrated church at Luoghi del Silenzio and Sassoferrato TV also mention the battle).

That same first paragraph in the Princeton Encyclopedia also gives the names of both consuls wrong by English standards (naming them for some reason in Italian): they are Q. Fabius Rullianus and P. Decius Mus. Finally, it can be made more useful by providing links to the source texts cited. They are, in order:

Polyb. 2.19.6 Frontin. Str. 1.8.3 Cass. Dio 48.13.2‑5 (not • App. BCiv 5.30

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 7 Dec 20