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Monday 1 September 1997

Sunrise: I purposely slept with my east-facing window open to get on a normal schedule. Last night, tough getting to sleep: things are not the same as 3 years ago. I finally had to go downstairs and make some hot milk. More dreams about singing, very vaguely remembered. My back hurts from fluid retention during the night; but the bed is quite comfortable.

Another cloudless day; the pop-pop of hunting season just started today: a poster in the street gave all the regulations, and was particularly interesting because for hunting the region is divided into three circonscriptions rather than the two provinces, and the largest is carved mostly out of Perugia province, and is the Spoleto-Foligno "province".

On the terrace after most of breakfast. Gorgeous day if preparing to be hot. Cool breeze from the SE, warm sun on my right shoulder: as my grandmother Cécile used to say, "le fond de l'air est frais". Quiet, slow breakfast: who's in a hurry.

I find I'm moving around the house rather slowly, in part for my protection: there is, for example, the low door out of the terrace back downstairs — I've bumped my head gently twice.º I'm of course having to take care of the house by myself, no James to do everything for me: so I seem to be developing a kind of Trappist pleasure in the little chores, doing them slowly and concentratedly.

Downstairs I found myself singing

Господу Богу помолимся

Древную был возвести

and it occurred to me that the Древная был could after all just as well in my case be one done to, as by me. I need to get out and get some walking into the legs — which by the way have been unexplainedly tight since I got here: and it should hardly be that one walk up with my suitcase. My list of purchases now includes:

I am of course delighted that Spello turns out to be so attractive. Nothing in the guidebooks prepared me for it: I knew there were Roman remains, but the views were a wonder­ful surprise; and so were the very many tiny churches! I had the impression there were about five or six: and so indeed that many are the larger ones — but neither the sweet little oratory of S. Biagio nor the beauti­ful church of S. Martino were so much as mentioned in the (excellent) DeAgostini guide before me —

Well, the sun is 20° off the horizon, my neighbor is at his typing, I'm pleasantly warm: time to finish washing up and go look at the Belvedere. I didn't really mention yesterday because it was against the sun in the late afternoon; but it must be at its best about now — Assisi and the hideous dome of S. Maria degli Angeli and half the Valle Umbra could be seen —

Well I didn't really pay that much attention to the Belvedere, noting that Assisi looked polluted this morning and I'd get a better picture another day; I did do a slow walkabout of more of the Pusterula: the via Borgo della della Fortezza, then the v. Arco di Augusto, finishing with San Lorenzo, behind the façade of which a big disappointment: some very ugly and very dirty baroque chapels. A bit more shopping — sponges, sausage, grapes, grapes, fruit juice, milk — then to Pro Spello where I bought out the meager store of books; pamphlets really; and out the Porta Consolare with 2590 FF and $300, which I had no problems exchanging at 284 and 1730 respectively: apparently the dollar's been going great guns these days. So far, I've had a charmed trip.

Home and, surprisingly, a largish lunch. Didn't think I was hungry, but made way too much pasta (strongozzi alla salsa tartufata, with hot pepper too) and ate all of it with a glass of rosso di Spello, which unlike the white, is quite good.

Flipping on the TV, I caught the news followed by a rerun of a 1994 documentary of Princess Di; watched that: a sympathetic portrayal. As royals go, until she threw her legs up in the air for that major, she did a pretty good job in a modern version of the royal traditions of sympathy with the unfortunate.

So convenient to have her dead, I wonder if MI‑5 had her done in; the last straw must've been her taking up with an Arab — it's so easy to fix a car —

Well, a big lunch in the middle of the day and a thimble of limoncello in a large comfy chair, and at the end of the program I slept; not very very long, since when I woke up I gathered my stuff and walked down to S. Claudio to find it closed. The program was at 2 and the church eventually opened at 4. I wandered around the amphitheatre — quite penned off and officially unvisitable — doing a whole circuit and seeing nothing but fences or mostly shrubbed ditches which I made no attempt to cross.​a

[image ALT: A round wall painting of the head and shoulders of a man, which appears to have been salvaged from a larger scene; a T‑square is also visible. It is a fresco in the church of S. Claudio in Spello, Umbria (central Italy), and probably represents St. Claudius, one of the so‑called builder saints.]

After that 10 minutes' walk, S. Claudio — a pure Romanesque nave-and-two‑aisle transeptless church with an open belfry — was open. A tall young artist by the name of Gabriele Serio was the guide; it turned out he was one of the artists exposing in the church — a number of these churches open thru Sep. 9 were used for exhibits of modern art by local artists, and by great good fortune his curious canvases were among the very few things I liked, which is what I told him — then I found out he was an artist and they were his. . . .

The church itself is beauti­ful and has quite a few pleasant frescoes; also 2 Roman inscriptions. I finished my roll of film and will come back for the inscriptions. And that's it; I walked back under maybe 85‑86° cloudless sun, took a cool bath, futzed slowly with a piece of RS​b — Netscape didn't crash all the times I tried it, but Word 4 is not suitable for HTMLing things. . . a bowl of ricotta with Alchermes, I'll probably have another glass of pear juice, and that's it for the day.

The sun has now set — I've been writing this on the terrace of course — Foligno is turning on its lights; there's a 68‑70° breeze, crickets and dogs are the loudest noises. About an hour ago a funeral walked by my window up the via Giulia (the cemetery of S. Girolamo is about 700 m out the back gate here): a double file of mostly old ladies reciting the rosary in Italian, the priest intoning behind them; then the hearse — a modern-style silver automobile hearse — then a group of about twenty people on foot, followed up by a man carrying a standard based on the Italian tricolor. Haven't seen them come back and see nothing unusual at S. Girolamo.

Later Notes:

a Maybe not on September 1; but see October 29th.

b "RS" = RomanSites. When I wrote, my website had been online all of five days, and RomanSites, a large commented link list of other websites dealing in one way or another with ancient Rome, was all of it. It was at the time a useful addition to the new Web, since there was no decent search engine; but with the advent of Google, the labor-intensive 2300‑site index lost most of its usefulness, and I removed it in 2004 or 2005. As of writing (Sep 2021) traces of it remain on the Web, usually in the form of links to it from obsolete or ill-updated websites.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20