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Mon. 26 September

A bit past seven A.M. . . . 

I took myself out to the Umbria for dinner last night after the 7:00‑7:45 paseo (and finally, there is one here just like in Orvieto, just not as noisy and 'official') which left me feeling rather old and alone — the median age was 27 or so, people were in couples or groups of three to six young men, rather few women, unlike my memory of Orvieto last year — I proudly went in to the Umbria as I'd decided in the afternoon I'd do, sat down at my little table under the grapevines, and ate my little meal happily and appreciatively, and a bit wistfully [. . .]

I normally mind my own business in restaurants, and listened to this table of four — a man and wife in their late sixties, and two men in their midfifties — struggle with the menu; when they asked the waiter what "cinghiale" was and the waiter, of deficient English, said he'd find a serving girl who spoke it better, well, at that point I stepped in; then a minute or so later the woman, very nice and nice-looking, dyed blonde, somewhat puffy face, doesn't do her justice as a description. Lovely smile, started to come over to my table menu in hand; instead I went and crouched down by her chair and translated the menu, then went back to my rabbit with capers; as I was finishing, her husband came over offering wine — I accepted a small sip of Decugnano (not the "Il"), wasn't, despite my own bottle of Torre del Giano "Il Pino" feeling very vinous and in fact left well over half for tonight — one thing led to another and after my tiramisú and their post-dinner second bottle of Decugnano dei Barbi, I wound up at their table chatting with them and feeding my neighbors on either side a bit of grappa; it turns out they're part of an underbooked tour (18 in a big coach) and the two couples met at the beginning of it: one of the two men runs an antique business in London, and the married man just retired out of the framing business, the third man is a teacher (he's the Irishman, and doubly thus the odd man out).

Anyway, back from my walk today, sitting at the Umbria again in another new shirt, freshly showered and combed; an antipasto vegetale in front of me (eggplant, tomato, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow bell pepper) — relaxed, muscles in the arms a bit sore from some curiosity situps (16) after my walk, right calf sunburnt — new one for me; and why didn't that happen before, after all my back got redder today in the same places as before, so why didn't the calves burn before?

A little puzzling about this walk — probably only 29 km, no steep hills other than the first descent to Ponte Rio, not particularly hot (even windy on the tops of the hills, then positively cool from 4 o'clock on) — why am I tired? Possibly not enough sleep last night —

Finally went to Collazzone; thought I was going to come back partly by the same route, partly by a loop; but didn't —

Left Todi at 11:30, down to P. Rio and up slowly some rather dull vaguely industrial land towards Frontignano, which was tiny: a triangle of decaying buildings, a war memorial plaque, 2 benches and a pump thank God — the plaque was interesting, recording seven I think young men as having given their lives for their country in the "guerra italo-austriaca 1915‑1918".

San Terenziano was a long way up, the edges of it have phenomenal views down onto Todi — no Consolazione from here at all — but the town has acquired about 5 nasty little modern detached or semi-detached housing developments, spreading around on a rather uninteresting high plateau —​a

The road from S. Terenziano to Collazzone is glorious; planes upon planes of hills, lovely greens, grey-greens, golds and browns, olive trees, vineyards, a few scattered parasol pines, masses of wildflowers in spots, beauti­ful sculptured landforms. . . .

[image ALT: A small town on a hill. It is Collazzone, in Umbria (central Italy).]

At Collazzone — a sort of 15‑meter-wide causeway of land between two sloping green voids, terminating in a completely built-up spit of rock — I stopped for just over an hour, mostly because I was very thirsty and found a caffé where I had a 150‑centiliter bottle of fizzy water, a hand-sized pizza, and a wafer-and‑chocolate bar which was the least or so I thought sweet thing else, but which had a good deal of chocolate (this is apparently going to be a problem: bars have snacks, snacks are heavy on the sugar and fat) — I also bought a Corriere della Sera and read about Bozo's invasion — Tangentopoli bores me —

I left Collazzone as the church bells struck 4:30; sort of toured the town, tiny tortuous streets though numerous, an awful lot of renovation and restoration starting with the entire façade of the church, under scaffolding — the town is built of the Umbrian combination of brick and stone, bits and pieces of fortifications, archways propping up the houses, crazy quilt of staircases every which way — Charming place.

At this point, I had the good sense to change my initial plan, and rather than return to Todi by much the same route incl. the grueling walk up from Ponte Rio, I decided to go to Collepepe and catch the Perugia-to‑Todi bus there.

At Collepepe, when I was told the bus didn't stop in the upper town but rather some 1500 m below in the scalo, I stupidly didn't enter the gate of the little upper town, who knows what I missed — the lower town is a jungle of road and isn't really much of a place at all —​b

I found a bus stop, waited there twenty minutes, but found no bus would be by for hours (or one hour, anyway) and that there was a stop about 700 m up the road that had a combination bar and supermarket to make the wait easier — by then, it was quite dark; I walked to the new place, had an Orangina at the bar, caught my bus, which dumped me off at P. Rio into the arms of a Todi local bus that took me up to the Oberdan Gardens about 2 blocks from home, et voilà.

[. . .] From the Orangina on, I've been slightly nauseated — I believe in fact it's the sunburn — wonder­fully cool evening, even a tiny bit (2°) cool for me — Now finishing my fruit salad and going to bed, thanking God again both for the day and for beauti­ful landscapes of Umbria [. . .]

Later Notes:

a This innocent paragraph conceals one of the stupidest mistakes of my 1994 trip: there is a curious double-decker Romanesque church in S. Terenziano; failure to check my guidebooks before this walk, and I missed it. Not a church with a crypt, but one church built on top of another, or a two-storey church. It was nearly 10 years before I finally saw the church (see diary, Apr. 24, 2004).

b I finally visited the town in 2004.

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