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Wednesday 6 September 2000

Monday evening when my bus got to Scheggino, my fonino worked — although there was a phone booth and I also have a phone card — and I called the agriturismo; within about 3 minutes the husband half of the team was picking me up; another 3 minutes, and in my room: three single beds, a very nice view which I was only really able to enjoy yesterday morning when I had sun and a blue sky; a large bathroom with a good hot shower. I sat on the floor of the shower and pretended it was a bathtub — although, mindful that this was a small family business, didn't run it too long [. . .]

Anyway, dinner a mix of good (very good even) and quite mediocre. Antipasti: a crostino of something that looked like funghi or tartufi, and may have been, but certainly didn't taste like it, both oily and oddly vinegary, quite wrong; some wonder­ful sausage — their own pigs, the man himself made the sausage, deep wine-red body with large white flecks of fat, really excellent; some good ham, pigs also home-raised and presumably poor things related. Tortellini, the pasta very good, homemade, the tomato sauce etc. average. A secondo best, and almost already, forgotten: "bistecca", slices of anemic meat, apparently overcooked beef, barded with pork to try to marble it (à la française), too salty. Dessert, a crostata of homemade jam, OK. A sort of limoncello, with milk or maybe cream: good. Bed.

[image ALT: View of a mountainous landscape. It is the Valnerina seen from Scheggino in Perugia province, Umbria (central Italy).]

The view from my window when I woke up in the morning and got my blue skies.

Up yesterday morning, and another day in which I didn't "get" as far as I thought I would. I'd planned to walk to Cerreto Borgo, not very far: didn't do it, only getting to Piedipaterno, yet the road between Piedipaterno and Cerreto was just a piece of road; nothing missed except continuity on my yellow-highlighted map of Umbria.

I left a bit late, at 9 — good breakfast — and turned back on my steps of course to see Scheggino, of which Monday I'd only seen a wet phone booth (in which I waited, having used my fonino however to do the actual calling) —

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The Nera at Scheggino,
flowing S towards Terni

Scheggino is the wateriest city of Umbria I know: it's built around the Nera and the springs of Valcasana, and trout ponds, and — well, water everywhere; it's a nice little town, but with nothing outstanding: I checked out the churches, and caught the DeAgostini out in a typical error; they put a church at Fonti di Valcasana which is right smack downtown (although admittedly F di V is not far off) — because at a certain point there are two street signs, one for one, one for the other: whoever was sent to "do" Scheggino made an assumption. . . .

I left Scheggino late somehow; a splendid day: cool but blue skies — and got to S. Anatolia even later than I thought, because I stopped at the "stabilimento" — everyone knows what this means, no need to add anything — the Urbani truffle packing center. Walking in, a nondescript 60's or 70's building, the fragrance of truffles; oddly, not in the waiting room, where I sat a bit waiting for a very serious young man, maybe 24, named Carlo, possibly the family heir, to appear with two books that Mrs. Chiappini at the agriturismo had showed me (on truffles of course: one just recipes, t'other a truffularium of science and gastronomy and history all). While I waited, I did a translation review on both the French and the English of their main brochure: the former had a coupla mistakes, the latter was considerably worse. I submitted my corrections in writing, and was pleasantly surprised to get my two books free: a very good rate for translation review of about 20 minutes.

S. Anatolia di Narco is about 3 km off; the main thing was that absolutely nowhere on the highway did a single sign indicate S. Anatolia: everything else (Norcia, Cascia, Spoleto, Perugia) but not a peep about S. Anatolia at or before the critical point, where you have to choose which direction to go. You see the place on your right, mind you, and armed with maps and my mental image of the area I suspected as much, but still I wasn't sure.

[image ALT: A distant view of a small village. It is Sant' Anatolia di Narco in Perugia province, Umbria (central Italy).]

The unobtrusive Sant' Anatolia di Narco, from about 1 km south.

S. Anatolia, 4 churches: as usual, sort-of. My third was the charm: S. Maria delle Grazie — which certainly didn't look like any charm at all when I came on it: under scaffolding, and I was expecting to be rebuffed on entry — but was not at all. Two restorers, a man and a woman, from a contractor DeFeo, not only allowed me in, but gave me a run-down on the frescoes, wet down the two Roman inscriptions, held my 14cm scale pens for me while I photographed them — difficult, nor do I expect much, because on local red stone — and were generally very, very helpful; and I correspondingly very grateful, embarrassed, prolix and slow. . . .

[image ALT: A squat scaffolded building. It is the church of S. Maria delle Grazie in the town of Sant' Anatolia di Narco, Perugia province, Umbria (central Italy). Clicking on the image reveals a sample of the frescoes inside.]
The unpromising exterior (Sep 2000) of S. Maria delle Grazie;
and a sample of the interior.

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Page updated: 26 Jun 23