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Monday 18 September 2000

Ho-ho, fooled myself and in fact did the reasonable thing: Saturday, although I'd put in an 0530 wakeup call, when I woke, the main blister was still bad and there were two others thus unpredictable; I stayed put, lolling about in bed watching RAI's Olympic coverage — my motto for the day: accubitius, lentius, pigrius. . . Still, not to waste a day completely, I took a train to Rome; arriving where at lunchtime — my first arrival at Termini in the middle of the day — I seized the opportunity to find my tavola calda on the via Gioberti (Il Cinghiale, at or near #11) and finally have a full meal there, even somewhat more than a full meal, for 28500₤, quite good, as expected: gnocchi with tomatoes-basil-mozzarella; mussels and shrimp in broth; my chard that I always miss when I go back to the States; 1½ liters of fizzy water; and a quarter carafe of red, trusting the place: good instinct, quite decent red.

[. . .]

I took the last train back to Fabro, and had no difficulty walking the 1½ km from the station to the hotel, although the road was completely unlit: the main road from Fabro Scalo to Colonnetta where the hotel is (got to look into the place name: another nearby Colonnetta, di Prodo, is said to mark a Roman milestone) was OK because straight and occasionally lit by the passing car — traffic is light at ten P.M. — but the section from the station to the main road was pitch dark and curves. Still, safely to hotel, to bed.

Yesterday also an easy day to write up. Again, I lazed around in bed — women's gymnastics this time — but went and had the hotel's breakfast (10500₤, slightly more expensive than average), packed, left my pack at the hotel, and walked up to Fabro proper, my 74th comune: I could hardly do otherwise; going instead say to Città della Pieve would be like camping out in someone's back yard because I wanted to have dinner with their neighbors. . . .

Fabro is nothing much at all, but it's pleasant. There is a 19c church, a largish castle compound in which maybe ten families live (and one piece was for sale), an alimentari, an "Etruscan" restaurant, and the bar.

[image ALT: The caffé-bar of Fabro, Umbria (central Italy).]

The bar in a small Italian town is a place to stop and rest, just as it was for me here.
(This particular one looks very different now, though.)

My feet, unexpectedly, decided they were fine, so when, following the main street (via S. Basilio) up the ridge, I discovered that it didn't dead-end but led on, out and even up, and that there was a place called Salci at 4.4 km from the end of the town — about the perfect distance to walk and back and make it down to my 1411 train — off I went.

This turned out to be a little walk like when I first came to Umbria in '94: no particular plan, nothing really to see, just get acquainted with the country and enjoy the walk. The landscape is rolling hills with deep valleys; thus, scenic thruout, relatively open panoramas over a mix of woods and well-tended farms. My weather was near perfect: mostly sunny with good cool breezes.

It also turned out to be a rather social walk. At the little cluster of houses not far out from Fabro, an attractive rack of drying corn: I asked the woman of the house if I could take a picture, we had a bit of a chat; she seemed rather pleased, but apologized for the broom (or bunches of similar plant) in front of the corn, but I told her on the contrary, that would make the picture —

[image ALT: Corn drying.]

A bit further on, a woman came out of a house with a bowl of tomatoes and zucchini flowers; so pretty I must've stared at it, so I got the monitory (and puzzled) buongiorno, at which point I explained gosh how beauti­ful that was, from a photographer's standpoint — Booby had his camera slung over his shoulder — and she suddenly beamed and invited me to take a photo: it may be a very good one.

[image ALT: A woman holding a bowl of tomatoes and zucchini flowers; a young boy next to her, probably her son.]

From there off to Salci, sort of. At about 4 km I saw no sign of any town, but an oncoming couple of about my age, who told me I'd missed the turnoff (I wonder how: I never saw any other road); yes, Salci was now being fixed up, a little walled town, quite handsome; no, you can't see it from here, it's over that way —

It was noon; I turned around and walked back, the first few hundred meters with them before they turned off to explore a gravel side road: they, Romans who rented a small house here (see up there, the big house? ours is a small house just behind it) where they spent most of their weekends, even in winter.

[image ALT: A clump of old stone houses on a hill about 1 km from the camera, and in the distance a valley with a larger somewhat sprawling town. It is a view of the comune of Fabro, in Terni province, Umbria (central Italy).]

Fabro is the clump of houses on the hill; Fabro Scalo is in the distant valley.
You are looking east.

One o'clock, pit stop at the bar for a couple of iced teas and a sammich; back to the hotel, where I picked up my pack, and to the station with about ten minutes to spare. All the trains ran smoothly, and my feet were in such good shape that I walked up the hill on my own steam, home.

I'd picked this early schedule (I was home at 6 P.M.) because it was the last day to find the Rossi's all together: Marta starts school today, so Mom & Dad go back to Fabriano. Well, Marta saved someone's life, maybe her own maybe mine as well: earlier in the afternoon she smelled gas, and although the others either didn't smell it or insisted it really couldn't be gas, she was stubborner, and right, too; the rubber hose to my gas bottle had either corroded or been eaten thru, and I'd developed a major gas leak: one flick of the light switch at the front door, and kaboom! Mario went in, turned off the gas, aired out the house, and left a note for me on the stove not to turn on the gas — Fortunately, I met them all out in front of the house first.

Of course this now leaves me without any possibility of cooking anything; I'd been planning on drawing down my supplies these last few days — A bit as an afterthought (hey, I was hungry) I invited the whole family out to dinner, and was really delighted to do it, and a bit disturbed not to have thought of it earlier. Headed off to take my shower and stuff — at which point, Mrs. Guerrieri showed up with a friend: palavers in the parking lot about Porto Recanati, gas leaks, Internet, my schedule, etc. — and possibly goodbye, then — and at a quarter to eight the eight of us were off to the Barba del Priore for dinner.

A good meal — the room a bit hot, the large and a coupla small tables besides us, every single person male (Carla to my left was the one to notice this: makes you wonder what all the women's lives are like) — antipasti, primi (I had some excellent gnocchi al tartufo), secondi (grilled meat in various permutations), commercial desserts. Paolo played waiter — he has the run of the house here — and set us up with 2 bottles of rosso di Monte­falco; towards the end I added a bottle of Sagrantino. Coffee, grappa (I had a limoncello).​a A very nice evening with my Fossato family — I even toasted Maria Assunta in verse — very comfortable, good food, relaxed: it's really been a very social stay.

Back up to v. Rocca, where we chatted a bit on the walk (I guess technically, it's the street) and parted to our various houses: I will miss the Rossi's.

Later Note:

a Barba del Priore for dinner: at the very reasonable price of 270 ML, too. (The restaurant has since been sold, and in 2004 was open as La Corte dell' Oca: see diary, Apr. 16, 2004.)

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