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Thursday 17 August 2000

This really is a very social week for me; I'm in Spello and I've talked with what seems like dozens of people since I got here yesterday morning around 11:30 — the Zurlo tribe, Giuseppina at the grocery store, Mirko and Lara at the Pinturicchio (the inevitable wine courses!), the Fuso's at their house, and others. I was supposed to go back home tonite, but that was predicated mostly on my connecting with Franco and Selene Carbonelli for a Flaminia-something tomorrow — but I just haven't been able to get up the nerve; so what with one thing and another (I'm getting ahead of myself here) I'll go to Corciano or Torgiano or S. Giustino tomorrow, as part of my caccia ai comuni — this week has been kinda unpredictable.

Yesterday at 11:08 I arrived on the putt-putt from Foligno and started walking into town, and the adventures started right away: 150 meters from the station a young woman (in fact, surprising, she celebrates her 50th birthday on Saturday) approaches me and says, with a strong American accent but in perfect Italian (it turned out to be a set piece she'd made sure to get down right before coming to Italy): "Mi scusi signore, io non conosco bene la Sua lingua" — being Booby but in a gentler mood than usual I didn't fire off a voluble stream of Italian flailing my arms about (hey sometimes that's fun too) but answered in English; well she wuz wondering where to go — Spello station now permanently lacking a ticket window — to have her Eurailpass stamped: by the time we'd sorted this out and confirmed it at the bar where you buy rail tickets, I found I'd invited her to dinner, my big Zurlo dinner at the Pinturicchio; then I did a bit of Spello tour guide, from the Tega up to Alfie, and dove in to the Pinturicchio to make arrangements, we'd meet (Gloria [. . .]) there for dinner.

[image ALT: A handsomely cut Roman inscription, unusual in that it is incised on a stone that it slightly bowed out, which in turn has been inset into a sort of shallow stone niche. It is the inscription to Gaius Alfius in the façade of the church of S. Lorenzo in Spello, Umbria (central Italy).]

"Alfie" is Gaius Alfius, whose inscription on the façade of the church of S. Lorenzo I passed almost every night for six months during my two stays in Spello.

Well, the easiest thing to do was to have a light lunch right there: pennette alla norcina, almost perfect, a glass of good red, a bit of contorno; after which, checked in at the Residenza S. Jacopo: large comfortable bedroom, good bathroom, large living/dining room with what looked like a good kitchen. Took my usual shower, stayed out of the heat a bit, and went scouring around to see who was in town and whether they might be free to have dinner with me; so that meant checking in with Walter, looking fit; and with Mario and Giuseppina at the alimentari: he was out — they have a farm with horses, and in the afternoon he's often not at the store, but Giuseppina was there, with a new hair color and looking happy and very chic. I actually tanked up on supplies that I can't get in Fossato, and that I'll now be carrying around on my back for who knows how long —

I'd hoped to find Mrs. Fuso at home (Pierluigi was at work of course) but didn't instead, their good friends as it turns out and neighbors, Riccardo and Giovanna Filippi, were: they fed me a coffee and tracked Mrs. Fuso down sort of, or at least the information that she'd be back home around 6:30. Also reached Elisabetta of Monterione on the phone: she was doubtful about dinner because her husband would be picking up his daughter out of town somewhere at 8:10, and at best would show up just before 9. . . Armed with all this very uncertain information I went back to Mirko to tell him we'd be at least 6 plus Sonora, and at most 10 plus three little girls, and that this was as precise as I could get until just before dinner: not really too helpful.

A second round of this at sevenish found Pierluigi and Lidia and their two daughters at home — the shy one has shot up like a rocket, and gosh how they've grown up in two years! to learn that they were starving somewhere on the road around six and stopped and glutted themselves on pizza and would have to pass on dinner; I really want to take them out before I leave Umbria, so I have their phone numbers and I hope I can make a niche in my increasingly complex and crowded schedule for them one Saturday lunch which is what they said they'd like best.

So dinner was the Zurlo family and Gloria and me; Gloria felt a bit curious: I told her she was Elijah, and that I'd been Elijah at two Passovers. As it turns out, it was nice to have an outsider at table, since it opened up the conversation, to say nothing of allowing Walter to practice his English (which isn't as good as he would find it useful to be!) —

Sonora went to bed around eleven — I remembered to have a little plate of olives brought for her (and learned that she only likes green, and not at all black); the rest of us broke up just before two! and I walked Gloria back to her hotel (the Bocci) "via" the Torri di Properzio —

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