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Monday 31 August 1998

1530h, binario 1 at ad Aesim (Falconara Marittima, anyway) with a 75‑minute wait ahead of me. I could've taken a fast train to Foligno which connected nicely with my train from Rimini, but there's no point spending money and it's a perfect day and almost place to catch up on this diary.

So yesterday I got to Rimini around 5 and went straight to last year's hotel the Giulio Cesare even if the sheets — scrupulously clean and starched — smell slightly of cigarette smoke; hell, so does the open street here often enough. . . .

I was expecting Il Lurido and not the Arco: I got the reverse. Heading straight for the arch — check-in was a matter of 3 minutes and dumping a bag off — I was very pleased to see the scaffolding gone. And it's a nice arch/gate. The restauration seems to have been done very well, at least I couldn't see what was done, except possibly for some stone gutter-spouts that didn't feel quite kosher.

[image ALT: A stone and brick Roman triumphal arch, about 12 meters high, with some of its marble fa­cing still in place, including a pediment and some sculpted medallions, as well as two decorative deeply grooved columns. It is the Arch of Augustus in Rimini.]

Rimini: the Arco di Augusto. NW face (towards town).

Walked down to the bridge — not that much to do in Rimini — and it was still there. . . In fact, since I had bright blue sky this time plus they'd opened up access to the immediate edge of the little basin, I was able to get a coupla better pictures; I tried to get a clear view of the piers, said to be oriented not on a mindless if symmetrical perpendicular, but properly engineering-wise parallel to the flow of the Maroggia and thus unsymmetrically oblique to the bridge — but the unclear remains, the definite added restoration material, the removal of the river and finally my inability to get sharp enough depth-of‑field all conspired to make readable photos impossible, so I didn't take any.

[image ALT: A large five-arched marble bridge. It is the Bridge of Tiberius, also known as the Bridge of Augustus, in Rimini.]

Tiberius' Bridge: the SW (landward) side.

While I was in the area, I checked the Lurido and found it closed for the holidays. Plan B — eventually ate at L'acero rosso (rejecting a coupla Chinese restaurants, eating in which seemed dismal defeat after the expectations of a good meal at the Lurido).

For a year now I'd been translating "acero rosso" as "red-(hot) steel", under the combined influence of that woman having told me it was a good place for meat, and the French "acier" — Peculiarly, since I know both that steel is acciaio and that acero is maple. . . .

It seemed too elegant both generally and against those blasted expectations of the Lurido; still. I ate well — a fish menu, but fishing is closed, I was told, for a while in either this part of the Adriatic or in all of it (noone knew) to allow the fish to spawn, "per riproduzione" feigning obtuseness to which I said the fishermen could jolly well spread their riproduzione out over the whole year rather than take it in one lump. This feeble joke greeted with much mirth at the next table — noone ever said I spoke softly — but with speak-of‑which a piscine stare from my young waiter, who otherwise seemed to have a rather flat personality poor guy.

Anyway, the various fish antipasti good to very good but even the best — little silver sardines in cold slightly garlicky oil — nowhere near the Lurido. A primo, again good but no stars (spaghetti al bianco di pesce) and I went straight to the dessert, since I hadn't been hungry in the first place and here I'd been chunking it down anyhow. . . In fact, the other option was to skip dinner altogether but that too felt like defeat, plus I was worried that that'd just extend my recent insomniae. So dessert, and that, invece, was topnotch (about 17½ sur 20): an apple sfogliatina fanned out on a plate à la nouvelle cuisine in an egg‑yolk-colored sauce, topped with a small scoop of green-apple ice cream covered with a caramel dome; as a lagniappe, a saucer of tiny fruit tartlets, cannoli etc. some of which were superb and all excellent.

Wine, merci­fully produced without the excessive fuss good restaurants in Italy sometimes go in for — a Trebbiano di Romagna, Terre del Cedro 1997 (Vintan) that my waiter assured me — I'd told him I have rather vulgar tastes and like my wines rather saporiti (which isn't strictly true but was designed to keep me from getting one of those rather acid and thin Alto Adige) — had matured three months in oak (quercia: odd, considering the name of the wine); so it was much like a medium-good California.

Sweet dessert wine, ha! finally something Riminese — Rébola (Colli di Rimini): OK. Grappa, a monovitigno Sangiovese, Ronchi di Castelluccio, from Lugo — rather good. 106K and then I went and saw a Tarzan movie; moviehouse on the Corso d'Augusto. Utter piece of fluff, of course. The actor had nice pecs but not much in the way of legs, whoever he was. The leading actress screamed at various animals but eventually shot someone too: a nice mix of good Victorian girl and 1990s feminist (wonder what Mary Kingsley would have made of this — there were a few leeches as well, and our heroine-of‑sorts was definitely not Miss Kingsley. . .). Throw in a bit of the good savage myth mixed in with Africans have an ancient civilisation, a bit of She with a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark and maybe the movie was intended as a spoof of itself.

To my hotel to bed, some insomnia but I did get to sleep by around 2. Woke up during the night like the night before, with a violent rasping blood-spitting sore throat; managed to get back to sleep and was woken up at 8 precisely. Nice hot shower and I checked out; time enough for an easy walk to the F.S. and breakfast combined with self-medication: two cream-filled paste and a Coke: this latter, ghastly stuff but it often gets rid of flu symptoms.

The "autolinea internazionale" Benedetti (0745, 0845, 0955, 1055 etc.) and the 45 minutes to San Marino: unlike last year, full sun and blue skies, so that I got a feel for the geography of the place: a high very angular crest, N-S I think, sticking up like the crest of a stegosaurus (although I understand this standby of my childhood is now said never to have existed?) with a small castle or tower on the 3 most prominent humps, and a church on the fourth: a sheer drop of maybe 200 m from there; the town is on the (slightly) less sharply rising side.

Withal, much like last time, except that I went in the little church of S. Quirino, in the porch of which a 1943 inscription had 2 lines very neatly, almost decoratively, chiseled out: a damnatio memoriae of 2 Fascist-party regent captains, c'est tout. I got the text of the 2 missing lines from an old Franciscan priest who runs the attached Oriental Museum which, despite appearances, really is a museum, few items being for sale: a potpourri of artefacts and natural curiosities from Africa and China, mostly; turtleshells, stuffed snakes, export ware, etc. The same old man, who'd gone got the full inscription from the local archives, also told me that the original church was wilfully destroyed only as late as the mid‑19c to make way for the current cold thing —

Speaking of which, this time the tiny Cappella S. Pietro was open and I saw the "beds of the saints" (Marinus and Leo, I believe) said to be Villanovan tombs: the church is just applied to the bare rock face, and a one‑person-wide passageway goes right past them up behind the altar.

[image ALT: Two hollowed-out stone troughs along a narrow passageway. They may be Villanovan tombs, Christian arcosolia, or mangers: but they are known as the Beds of St. Marinus and St. Leo, in the Chapel of S. Pietro in San Marino city.]

S. Marino city, Republic of San Marino: the 'beds of SS. Marinus and Leo'.

I got my film, of course: 110 rolls of 36 frames, 200 ASA. The price has gone up since last year, to ₤8000. I was able to get the ₤7000 price for buying in quantity — but only with cash, not credit card. Fortunately there was a Bancomat very nearby.

A pharmacy for some throat-pain pills (twice daily; the first one may be working: we'll see at 3 A.M. . . .); a couple more Cokes; a bar of nougat was lunch, mostly eaten on the bus down. Fast train change to Falconara.

Foligno, little public garden near the station a few minutes to seven — it beats hanging around the station —

I got on the Ancona-Foligno train at Falconara, found an empty window seat — and wound up fa­cing a young man who looked so desperately unhappy that I couldn't write my diary, read, look out the window even. The poor guy's eyes were swimming, and I haven't seen anyone look so sad in a public place in years, if ever. And of course there's nothing you can do.

Still, I couldn't just sit there faced with this; so I screwed up the little courage I have and after Genga — he'd told the conductor he was getting off at Fabriano — I told him that, whatever it was, I knew I couldn't do or say anything, but that I hoped somehow things were alright despite everything — a whole minefield of things not to say, and I didn't say them (and in fact I did better then than transcribing what I said here); it turned out the man's mother had died, and just that morning he'd washed her and dressed her as they sent her body back to Albania — He and his sister lived in Calabria, he was going to see cousins in Fabriano for a while. At least he's not completely alone here.

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