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Thursday 3 August 2000

(That waiter on Tuesday showed up at nine minutes and counting: I wonder if I'da left; prolly not. . .) Anyway, after the Vatican Museum's staff gently nudged me out — at 4:20, twenty-five minutes before the official closing time, which is the actual time they close the Museum with noone left inside — I got the idea to climb into a cab, mostly because there was one waiting; I said Campo de' Fiori, out of the clear blue sky: I'm getting more and more unpredictable.

[image ALT: A city square with a variety of unmatched small buildings around it, from two to six stories tall. In the center, on a monumental pedestal about 6 m tall, a bronze statue, twice life-size, of a hooden man with his hands bound together in front of him. It is the Campo de' Fiori, in Rome.]

The statue of Giordano Bruno, erected in 1887, is a newcomer to the Campo de' Fiori.
He was burnt at the stake here on Feb. 17, 1600.

Where I found them cleaning up after the day's market; from there to the Piazza Farnese and a few of the churches in the area, all of 'em closed: I'm going to have a terrific collection of pictures of the tops of churches. Termini at 7:08 quietly with four minutes to spare, no foot problems.

Yesterday was a Fossato day; there was a comedy troupe in town with a 9 P.M. performance, plus the day to rest before my little hike that starts today — and finally there was the key to the Piaggiola, so I made it official and stuck around.

At the Comune around 9:30 and got the key; I was expecting lots of scaffolding and a quick photo of some small detail of the frescoes, whatever I could get: instead I found one small moveable scaffolding (useful for close-ups!) and no problem in seeing everything; I also found some very attractive fresco work, that I really wasn't expecting at all. Nearly two rolls of film and I wasn't thru until eleven-something, when I returned the key to the police and Mrs. Burzacca with thanks; we talked a bit about the pace of restoration: she put the blame squarely on the Soprintendenzaº in Perugia first, then went along with my idea that there were too few contractors, so they took every job but then left everything hanging because their plate was too full.

[image ALT: A close-up of a fresco, showing the head of a man in his thirties, with a wispy two-pointed beard and uncombed hair, wearing a cape or cloth knotted over his right shoulder. He is haloed and next to him there is a tall thin Latin cross made of wood. It is the figure of St. John the Baptist from the chapel of La Piaggiola in Fossato di Vico, Umbria (central Italy).]

St. John the Baptist: a detail from one of the many 14c ex‑voto frescoes of La Piaggiola.

I had, in fact, thought maybe to use my train pass this its last day and go somewhere down the line; but by now my earliest train would be the 12:31 — diminishing returns, and instead I reserved my night at Panicale (before buying any train ticket for this hike), then walked down to Osteria to try the Camino Vecchio for lunch, then to the station to buy my tickets.

The Camino Vecchio a B-minus, reasonable prices, not very Umbrian cooking, but good portions, pretty good; the dining-room was pleasant if marred by a television gabbling in one corner, also most of the walls hung with takeoffs of Picasso — dismembered women, breasts with teeth, that sort of thing — one of 'em, more originally, had similarly dismembered fish. . . Bruschetta bianca, tagliolini with ham and asparagus (a bit too salty), guinea fowl alla ghiotta (the bird itself was quite good, with its characteristic little bones; good sauce included sausage and olives, slightly too oily); tiramisú homemade, what the hell I had two; coffee, grappa. They actually tried to steer me away from the expensive wine I'd chosen, but I was determined to give Lungarotti one last try. I'd been told once or twice, when I mentioned I found Lungarotti wines very flat and uninteresting, that well I should really try the Riserva's; here there was a 1990 "for release in 2000" so I did: not particularly better (the restaurant owner said they were a kind of truffa, and that he'd had the stuff forced on him, but was determined not to take any more, and apologetic about the price) and I think that's enough with Lungarotti period from now on. Total cost of meal 115 ML of which the wine was 65 ML.

Station, tickets; started up the broiling hill, but one of my near-neighbors, a man who lives at the top of the via del Forno, picked me up, so home quickly. Unusually for me, I fell asleep, for a full 3 hours: as it turns out, this was good, since the play didn't let out 'til 11:40 and this morning I got up at 3:10 to catch this train.

The play was something called La Doppia Vita di un Tassista, by the very American-sounding Ray Cooney, so prolly an American play I ought to recognize;​a at any rate it was hilarious. A coupla lines required having a good idea of local Umbrian geography (no sweat), and one of the characters occasionally, inconsistently, fell into a few words of dialect (not much sweat here, either: dialect is starting to get lost, and people are self-conscious about it; I think if the guy'd spoken full dialect, half the audience wouldn't have understood everything, the younger half of course). About 150 people saw the play; most of us on white plastic chairs ranged down the parvis of S. Sebastiano and into the street towards a temporary stage: a natural theatre, and the parvis finally paved as of yesterday I think.

Anyway to bed; and this morning, hope I didn't forget anything: 20 minutes to prepare (two-day hike, so just my camera bag with an extra pair of socks, underwear, toothbrush, shirt) and out the door. I hope I didn't forget anything.

Second-class car about 10% full [. . .]

Anyway we've just gone thru Narni [. . .] and I get off at Orte for a wait of nearly an hour for the short ride to Chiusi where my walk begins: from Chiusi station to Piegaro then Panicale; tomorrow via Panicale to Castiglione del Lago and a different set of trains (the northern route via Terontola) putting me home around nine. My feet feel almost perfect.

And hallelujah, after 26 km plus thorough circuits of Piegaro and Panicale, they still feel pretty good: no nerve pain, and basically no heel pain; just the arches ache a bit sharper than they should — but after my recent experiences, that's pretty darn good.

Everything ran like clockwork today, once I got past an uncertain start, finding the road to Moiano from the station; I have a feeling I didn't take the shortest route, and it was several miles before I saw a single sign for Castiglione del Lago. There is a supermarket at Po Bandino, I waited five minutes before the 8:30 opening, and bought a roll of mints, 1½ liters of fizzy water, and a sausage with hot pepper. The road to Moiano was mildly unpleasant: into the sun (as I knew most of the day would be), long, straight, dull, a bit narrow, and lots of traffic: flat, though.

Moiano a small town though prolly larger than a few comuni; it has a modern church and a totally useless hill: the road goes up it, then down: no rocca, nothing. . . . After that, I had a surprise: I was expecting this southwards road to be hot and shadeless; it wasn't: winding quietly thru rather tight little hills, thus very often, most of the time, shaded, all ten kilometers to Piegaro. It crosses almost completely uninhabited country: past Moiano, maybe four houses total. The day was hot, I guess, but felt only rather warm, and I had a very relaxed walk, although I still drank my liter and a half before I got to Piegaro. One of the pleasures of this section of my walk was that I crossed a bicycle rider, holy moly! who was not in bright purple tights with an aerodynamic helmet on a 22‑speed titanium bike: a man about my age wearing a shirt and trousers, and his bike rattled a bit. We exchanged unhurried hello's in this high-tech world . . .

Piegaro is indeed exactly what the books say: pleasant but nary a monument in sight. Two 19c churches (one certainly: the door dated 1851), both quite nice. A few doors, a few streets. I started with a liter of iced tea at the bar, and ended with an ice cream and two small glasses of Coke; another liter and a half of frizzy, and at one, after a brief sit to read the newspaper (in which details of Sunday's FossatoFest: apparently the Dea Cupra talk is mere prolegomenon to an Umbrian dinner blow-out, in fact fairly standard fare decked out in names from ancient Umbrian tablets), off to Panicale.

[image ALT: A small, near brick church, consisting mostly of a three-story square belfry with a clock on one side. It is hemmed in between two- or three-story buildings. It is the parish church of S. Silvestro, in Piegaro, Umbria (central Italy).]

S. Silvestro, the parish church of Piegaro.

Road here changed again: an open valley, some traffic, though not as much as from Chiusi to Moiano, for 4.4 km from the foot of Piegaro's hill; then a dull and rather hot and completely shadeless stretch slowly up some hills to Missiano, midst corn and occasional tobacco; one very small field of millet — I saw two fields of millet from the train, and apparently this isn't irrelevant: the original of the toponym Panicale, according to some, and thus millet figures in the coat of arms —

Anyway, Missiano a nice little place where one very hot Booby was guided to a faucet of cool water by four small children, ages 6‑9. I dunked my head and drank a lot of it while they watched raptly; I'da never (a) known about it; (b) gone into what seemed to be private property — but the children assured me it was OK. Thanked them and off I went; in fact Missiano a nice place, a coupla photos even.

[image ALT: In an olive grove, a sort of cairn of piled stones, about 75 cm high, supporting a wooden house not quite a meter tall, with a two-sloped roof and open sides, in which stands a statue of the Virgin Mary. It is a wayside shrine or madonnina in a field N of Missiano, Umbria (central Italy).]

Just outside Missiano on the road to Panicale:
shrine to the Virgin Mary in an olive grove.

Later Note:

a Ray Cooney was British, and the original title of this classic farce is "Run for Your Wife!"

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