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Friday 28 August 1998

And the rest of the trip ran like clockwork, too. Train on time, a taxi right there at the station in Foligno (that was my real worry), and InUrbe expecting me; I'm back "at home" in the Cà Spadolini as expected.

In fact, when I got here last night — afternoon actually around 5 — Walter was in Pescara and the office was closed, but Sonora's 2d birthday party was in full swing, they just invited me in, plus I took a few pictures for Maria-Pa', mostly of Sonora, looking happy but bemused, in a little white dress with pink crocheted roses — kids blowing soap bubbles, groups of extended family sitting on either side of the piazzetta, mostly men together, women together; later pizze — a wonder­ful zucchini pizza — roasted tomatoes, etc.

The family is fine and I was happy to see them. Stolze had a prostate operation but is doing well now — on the other hand (I stopped in at Monterione briefly finding Elisabetta there, her English much improved) the Mancini's wonder­ful Labrador was poisoned by chunks of meat apparently put out by hunters to do in foxes —

Not much conversation really at Sonora's festa, but in my honor the Clinton subject came up: people here have roughly the same understanding of it as in the States, about 60% wondering why we should care about the guy's sexual depravities (altho' even there, let any CEO try to get away with that!!), and the rest realizing, to various degrees, that it's a matter or perjury, tangentopoli, high treason with the Chinese satellites, murder etc. Anyway, the distasteful topic shuffled off on its own; fine by me, I didn't come to Italy to talk about Arkansas nor indeed any other kind of corruption, and in fact (reminiscences of Dante!) I'm hoping that by the time I get back, if Judge Starr did his job well and — less certain — Congress has a bit more balls than they usually do (i.e., I hope Moynihan speaks up) — this whole thing will have blown over like a particularly obnoxious but ultimately ephemeral fart.

Anyhow, Sonora's party was still in full swing but I quietly excused myself pleading fatigue, and plopped into bed and slept like a rock.

This morning I woke up just before sunrise — a good start — and had a liter of pear juice and a banana up on the terrace: mostly overcast, but pleasant, and intimations of red sun rising N of Pale thru the clouds; then — much less good — suddenly felt very sleepy and went back to bed, sleeping thru about 11:30 and waking up feeling fluish and headachy — pas dans mon assiette, quoi.

Nice shower and shave and walked down to the Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia at the rond-point outside the Portonaccio, to test the cash machine, both on my checking account and on James's credit card. Both worked, and I feel securer. . . .

Back up the hill — strong winds maybe 35 mph, overcast, occasional drizzle, 58‑60F — passing the Cappella Tega just as the guide was closing it at 1 P.M. Changed out of tank top and shorts into polo shirt and trou and here I am at the Pinturicchio, having done alternate courses as it were of food and diary. Mirko and Lara and family fine — Lara got married, locally, on July 18 and looks happy — but business has been at 80% of normal. My cabbie yesterday was telling me how foreign journalists seeking to spice up their stories, were illustrating Assisi stories with photos of Colfiorito and Annifo, thus giving the impression that Assisi is destroyed; and of course it's fine, except for the upper Basilica. So tourists supposedly staying away in droves.

That wasn't my impression yesterday p. m. mind you, altho' admittedly mostly backpackers and from Mirko's standpoint low spenders: anyway lots of foreigners in the streets. It should quiet down like last year around Labor Day. The Viviamo program this year runs thru the 6th, giving me the opportunity — after all that's why I came here this early — to catch some few things I missed last year.

Anyway, today's lunch, although I was very cautious since I don't quite feel up to snuff, quite good, as expected. In fact, I'd forgotten just how good the Pinturicchio is — really topnotch tortellini in brodo, equally first-rate scaloppa al vino bianco; 2 contorni — spinaci al burro e parmigiano, good, and verdura cotta: three stars. Zuppa inglese for dessert, I'd never had one and I guess I thought I'd be getting something like an île flottante; instead a rather sweet trifle, a bit heavier than what I wanted, but I'm fine. No wine, coffee or grappa —

After lunch, I went back to InUrbe and took care of the rent, giving Maria-Pa' a cheque for $2000 and asking her to cash it while the dollar is high, after all it doesn't matter to them since we've agreed to a price in lire. Also my little gifts for the family —

Then a little walk down thru the Porta Venere to the plain where I found a vantage point for a general shot of Spello: now to get the good picture I'll need to have good weather — preferably a good contrasty sky around 5 P.M. after a rain to bring out the colors.

Actually, on my meandering down hill I found the Cantina della Pusterula open as part of Viviamo; labeled 'Sant' Ercolano' but very sparse info and really not much there: a largish vaulted space with an olive press brought in from elsewhere; a door of what used to be the church, probably 12c but I bet that's what was described to me last year as being a Roman arch. A small piece of wall much more plausibly said to be Roman opus vittatum, and indeed looking very much like the masonry of the amphitheatre. Still, not very impressive.

[image ALT: An attractive windowless barrel-vaulted stone hall about 15 meters long, containing various debris: an olive press, tables, etc. It is the Cantina della Pusterula in Spello, Umbria (central Italy).]

The main space in the Cantina della Pusterula, formerly the church of S. Ercolano

Also, a pit stop at the Palazzo Comunale: young man earnestly telling me about those blasted mirrors, and calling my attention to a 16c? stone escutcheon — azure a mirror argent bordured or — I'm afraid I had to set him straight tho'. . . Still, the gonfaloni were there this time, both the 1963 one and the 17c one. Even by the 17c they'd got rid of the mirrors; neither one had the key, either. The Rescript as difficult as ever to photograph, had another stab at it but don't expect much.

Anyway by the time I got back home, the wind was up threatening rain (which came later if briefly) and it was quite cool. I sat on the terrace and drank a coupla glasses of apricot juice; a young man was up on the next-door roof doing something to a TV antenna. I didn't stay up there more than ten minutes or so, and suddenly sleepy went to bed. Walter and M-P. and Sonora are off to the sea in Campania at the confines of Basilicata 'til next Sunday for a post-season vacation this morning, so I'll have missed Walter 'til they get back.

And then — now — after 4h sleep I just woke up and feeling a bit, not very, hungry, made myself some farfalle with olive oil; a bit dismal if the oil good — since I haven't done a full shop yet, so no salt, parmesan, cayenne etc. just breakfast supplies.

Not too terribly pleased, mostly, about this irregular schedule; feel better but apparently, despite having slept the whole Atlantic, didn't avoid jetlag. It's now around 1 A.M. . .

I'm expecting to leave by the 8:54 to Foligno and thence to Rimini arriving at 12:44. And if I don't wake up on time — no clock yet — there are other trains.

Well, that was good; the olive oil, of the Azienda Agraria Dott. Feliciano Fancelli 06030 Capodacqua; the usual attractive brochure with curious translatese English; on the back, a schematic map the Romans would have beenº proud of, showing the Flaminia from Rome to Fano, and the little road to Capodacqua branching off it: above this, a nondescript dark orange 2‑story building, presumably the press, looking very clean.

It'll be interesting to see whether I do lose weight again here. I may not have parmesan, but already bought a tape measure, yielding 84 to 86 cm — in less heathenish units that's 33116″ to 33⅞″, in a word: yikes!

Anyway, coupla glasses of milk, time to hit the sack again; I hope by tomorrow evening I'll be on a regular schedule again.

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