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Thursday 12 September 2000

A bit past six in the morning, on the train to Rome: a day late, but on the way to doing my last big piece of the Flaminia for the next four days.

I was expecting to start yesterday, and Sunday evening set my alarm, woke up, and said no; instead, took the 1013 and two changes (Foligno, then Ponte S. Giovanni to the FCU) and arrived in Umbertide at 1248: I thought the schedule would be a bit tight (in fact, not), but the train schedules allowed me the time to walk to Montone and back, and of course visit both Montone and Umbertide, bringing my total of comuni to 72.

Caccia ai comuni aside, it was a perfect day for a walk, I was 96% OK in the foot and leg department, Montone — as I'd been told — is attractive, and Umbertide's not bad either, despite bad press and thus my own resistance.

I don't think Montone has anything to do with sheep, despite the punning arms (and there is even a "Polisportiva Ariete"!) rather with being on a big hill of course; but the climb is mostly quite easy. A couple of kilometers N of Umbertide, a fork gives you two choices for getting there, although the main road is just marked Pietralunga-Cagli: that's the road I took, partly because it's longer and therefore (a) I'd be less likely to want to do it on the way back, or possibly even to have the time to; (b) a longer road up a hill means it's less steep; but also because it goes NE a stretch, so that if I did come back by it in the late afternoon, I'd have the sun in my eyes.

I was rewarded for this choice of uncertain mileage (over the known 7 km by the other road): spotting, in a group of farm buildings, a few hundred meters off to my left, what appeared to be a former church. Well, former it isn't, and when I got to it I discovered (a) it was even more attractive than from far away; (b) it — S. Angelo — and the two large farm houses next to it seem to be Corlo, which I'd seen on my maps (with very small places, by now I always wonder whether they truly exist — as with S. Egidio near Piegaro, for example); (c) it was 50 m away from a small road up to Montone, that I didn't know about; incidentally wiping out the extra mileage and the softer slope, but I took it: almost no traffic, and the best views of the day, including those from Montone.

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S. Angelo di Corlo, as I first saw it ↑ and when I went to investigate ↓

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This little Corlo road took me to the very top of Montone, by the back door as it were: Fortebraccio's ruined rocca and a Remembrance Park with a War Dead Memorial: from this small place, 65 dead in World War I, 23 in World War II, plus "Civili caduti passaggio (sic) del fronte Luglio 1944": 7.

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My caffé in the main square;
in the background the belfry of S. Francesco.

So from there my wander around the town, pleasantly downhill. Montone itself is half Citerna and half Spello, although running perilously close to being a dead tourist town: I think I saw three restaurants and one hotel, plus a prominent vacation apartment outfit connected with the cloister of S Francesco; and didn't see too many businesses. The "back" of the town mostly, but the front as well, has a good number of modern villas: it seems to be a dormitory town, and an expensive one, for Umbertide. Almost all the upper town has been stripped of what must have been a predominant grey stucco (one back street still has it) and a very careful pavement of irregular stone, as attractive as it is uncomfortable to walk on, must surely have been laid no more than ten years ago.

Still, the town has escaped Assisification; I sat at the open bar in the main square under the clock — this being Monday, restaurant closed, alimentari closed; plus, 3:30 P.M. after all — and fed myself what I could: four iced teas, a good capocollo and mozzarella sammich, a very small coppetta of ice cream (coffee and rum-raisin) and an amarena, not the liqueur but the sirop de griottes.

And a nice walk back down to Umbertide, by the other, maybe just slightly more direct road; equally pleasant, with another brief sit at a caffé in the main square, which I hadn't seen on the way in and up. Umbertide is actually rather pleasant, with good streets and three good churches, the walls, etc.: for future reference it's one of the very rare places in Umbria with a train station conveniently close to the centro storico.

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The cupola of the 16c church of S. Maria della Reggia in Umbertide.

Back home with no surprises [. . .]; cab up the hill: indulgence excused by supposedly needing to save my legs for today, or needing to get to bed early, which finally I didn't.

Right this minute, we're waiting "about 5 minutes, for technical reasons" to leave Orte; the train has suddenly completely filled up, as often on these early morning trips thru Orte. The woman now in front of me looks like she's had a very rough nightº and is scrambling to repair the damage: mascara, the application of which always makes me very nervous, especially in a moving vehicle or one that might move any minute; lipstick; now sunglasses, which really helped, since her eyes are very puffy —

Anyway, I might as well catch up to the very last minute since today looks like a very busy day. The plan is to get money (dollar keeps on climbing nicely, meno male), an envelope and postage stamps; cab to the Viterbo station — oh, and forgot: a road map of the Lazio — and from there with luck a soon train to Prima Porta, since I don't intend to walk the nasty section of Flaminia from the Ponte Milvio.

Then get on the horn with Bernard Anson, looks like lunch at Malborghetto or in the area — if I remember correctly, Malborghetto is an isolated building — and also with the custode of the museum there, since this is its closing day; who knows, it might be interesting. I also need to get a hotel room for tonite; in this — as for the entire jaunt — my TCI Alberghi e Ristoranti d'Italia quite useless, since, understandably, only a very small selection of towns; less understandably, a strong tendency to expensive and luxurious. Still have it with me, you never know —

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