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5 A.M. I woke up at 4:15, and at home would have gone downstairs and started to slog it out with Baby; but here for some reason I tried to go back to sleep. No particular reason I should —
Yesterday was sort of low-key, although not quite as low-key as it could or prolly should have been. I did wake up with plenty of time to get myself on the 15‑minute chug-chug to Fabriano; which turned out to be almost completely under scaffolding. Don't know whether this is more efficient, or just less tourist-thoughtful, than in Umbria, but it certainly made the city a fast place to visit. Despite that, I can see that the centro storico is an attractive place, with a nice concentration of late-medieval/early-modern buildings around the Piazza and several other small piazze very close to it. Next to impossible, again, to see or photograph much of anything.
Fabriano, dodging the scaffolding:
the Palazzo del Podestà and the Fontana Sturinalto.
A coupla salient items: one, on the way into town, I nearly passed by a Liceo Scientifico Vito Volterra — mildly attractive maybe 18c building — then realized I didn't know who V.V. was, so went in and found people to ask. The first — the porter, with his own office mind you, thought he might have been a mathematician but wasn't sure: he sent me upstairs. There, several young administrators knew: he was indeed a mathematician, from Pisa, who in the Thirties refused to bend to fascism, so was expelled from the faculty and otherwise had his life made difficult.a It really would be good for institutions named after people to put a small plaque of commemoration and explanation at the entrance: else, besides, there's no real commemoration. If something were named after me — line of thought not fruitful, I myself can't see what kind of place would name themselves after me: an Umbrian sneaker factory? (And anyway, by that argument, my own website never explains "LacusCurtius" — time to abandon all of this!)
The other salient item: after sitting a bit, around noon, in the large and lively public gardens at the edge of town, I walked away from it round the back on a sort of incipient highway (to Rome, I think), the Viale 4 Novembre: to find myself within two minutes looking at more or less countryside, and a very nice small maybe 12c chapel, abandoned; peered thru a hole in the wooden door: destroyed altar, vandalized frescoes prolly 17c — thefted more likely — and took pix, partly because it was the only monument in town not under ponteggio. . . Stopped at a caffé at the corner of the via Fontanelle, a real street off this beltway, heading back into town, and asked if anyone knew the name: no, despite calls to someone's nonna (who did know the name of a second abandoned, terremoto'd this one, chapel just across the road: S. Cristoforo). Three aranciate amare, a cornetto mit cream; info about bus lines, quite a few of em actually, that leave from P.za Matteotti; also a sense of the pace of reconstruction from a carpenter one of the other patrons. Nice people, good rest: train tho' at 1402; walked to it via some other churches, sotto impalcatura.
Fabriano: my abandoned 12c‑13c chapel, just W of town; many years later, I identified it as the church of S. Lorenzo de Insula. (That link includes a semi-panoramic view of the depressingly damaged interior of the little building, in which you will notice that the frescoes I saw in 2000 have now entirely succumbed to ruin, or possibly been removed.)
Train station, got on train, nicely air-conditioned. It left on time — oops, wrong direction. . . Got off at first station, after checking with conductor: Albacina.
Albacina station, according to one of the two staff working it, who'd been pretty much all over the rail network, was the worst situated: no village even within sight; one house across the access road. Nothing but a control room and a waiting room, and a suite of three rooms for staff; I peeked in thru a back window: the room I saw was bare save for two small tables; it looked like someone might once have played pingpong in it. I can't imagine why anyone would get on or off here; its real function is as a siding.
1800₤ for my mistake, and at 1525 I was leaving Fabriano this time correctly Fossato-wards; the other fellow running Albacina had referred to me, three times, as going to Foligno (from his standpoint, the train I wanted was the Foligno train): so I thought well why not, it's paid for on my Rome abbonamento, maybe there's a reason for it; I went thru Fossato, to Foligno, the deciding factor being a blast of Saharan air thru the window about one minute before Fossato: I didn't want to do the hill in that heat.
Foligno, wandered down to the piazza thinking this would be an opportunity for me to have a better take on the place. The light was particularly good: coupla shots of the façade of the Duomo; and then, on the square, the Palazzo Trinci, now open: in fact, just recently. An exhibit of protohistoric stuff from Plestia (Colfiorito), some detached late medieval frescoes from a coupla churches, the decoration and architecture of the palazzo itself, and, unfortunately, three rooms of inscriptions. Not really unfortunately, of course, but that will slow me down.
Now I'd taken my cavalletto to Fabriano, and worn long trou, in the expectation of churches; here, instead, is where I used it; I the only visitor except three people leaving as I came in: spacious rooms — excellent practice for learning how to use the tripod; am curious to see the results, and will have those 2 rolls actually printed and soon: hope I've got it down, but at any rate need to know. Many of the inscriptions from Spello and S. Giovanni Profiamma, further slowing down the visit; a number of Renaissance and post-Renaissance copies of (possible, or possibly false) Roman inscriptions: on balance, almost certainly real inscriptions, else why would one have them copied in contemporary monumental capitals which wouldn't fool anyone, either then or now; i.e., these were clearly not intended as fakes. Many are still labeled falsae in the CIL.
At 7:10 I was, to my surprise, thrown out — I thought I'd been marshalling my time well for their closing hour (7; open every day except Mon.) and my train at 1904, but absorption and late summer sunlight juvantibus, I still have two rooms to go.
OK; found myself a restaurant — starting to feel a bit under the weather — and ate. Il Cavaliere, v. XX Settembre, 39; tel. (0742) 350.608, closed Mondays. Early, but I asked the dubious (and very young) waiter near the door if OK, and he came back after a while, sure. Relaxed sort of place, three young waiters; serves Umbrian specialties but somehow I wound up having nothing particularly Umbrian: bruschette miste (a bianca, a yellow bell pepper purée — bland, mushrooms, tomatoes) and a bresaola alla rugola. Gigli cremolati al something-or‑other: a turmeric-colored sauce, vegetables — passing, although the gigli themselves, a sort of densely ruffled curled pasta just under an inch long, had a pleasant, interesting texture from the ruffles. Tagliate alla Gorgonzola, good flavor, European beef, but the béchamel with a slight tendency to separate on cooling: too much butter in the basic roux. Wine, I wanted an Adanti, Rosso — which they had — but allowed myself to be persuaded into a 37ML bottle of a related wine that I didn't know: also a rossoº di Montefalco, also actually produced in Bevagna, Milziade Antano 1997. Very hard to tell, as with the rest of the meal, how good it was since my cold was starting to act up again and my taste buds were being selective; but the wine was too warm, by 3‑4C for my tastes, thus by a full 6‑7C for a proper wine connoisseur. Waiter took it off a rack in the dining area, it's been warm. (Have not actually seen rain since I got here: a bit more of this and we'll have a drought. Twice, very slight rain at night, but not even wet pavements by morning.) Contorno, typical Booby, the only thing I hadn't had: radicchio agli aringhi. Very good, couldn't taste or see the fishies, but competing with vinegar for my cold. Dessert: a very good green apple sherbet, not fatto in casa (staff, thruout, scrupulously honest); with flecks of peel making little crisp concentrates of apple flavor. No limoncello! — they do make their own, haven't made the next batch, and in the meanwhile don't serve anyone else's. So no booze — not about to have a grappa or an amaro — and of course no coffee. 90ML; with time and maybe better funds, I should give the place a fair try when I don't have a cold: still, a B seems fair; just a bit more energy behind the cooking would improve it.1
Right now on the other hand don't feel so hot, sorta generalized, at least the sore throat is basically gone; drinking up a storm. May take a warm bath, then after the first bang of the day from S. Sebastiano in 20 minutes (it's 6:40), go back to sleep a bit.
1 Should mention one of the waiters offering me a glass of odd wine of his own, from his own dinner before the customers arrived: straw-colored, slightly sweet, from Elba — interesting ("vino contadino")
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For my first, very unsatisfactory, stop in Fabriano, see September 12, 1998.
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Page updated: 4 Jan 24