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Tuesday 22 September 1998

Yesterday another simple day: I went to Todi and turned in 36 rolls of film. The 0731 train out of Spello putting me in Terni at 0900, and altho' there is a 1020 pullman sostituivo to Todi, I chose to take the 1140 train instead, which, paradoxically, wasted me less time: by chunking the time in Terni I was able to see three small churches rather than just hang around in the station. The most interesting of the three (S. Cristoforo, where the "Medusa" reported by the DeAgostini seems to have been removed from the façade leaving a circular mark; S. Lorenzo; S. Pietro) was the last, with a number of frescoes, altho' nothing extraordinary: some of which — on the liturgical S side — are continuing to deteriorate badly from damp, wall buckling etc.

My ostriches and zebras — four of the latter huddled together at a manger — at their stations after Massa Martana; very nice weather, parzialmente nuvoloso, perfect temperature. Old nun, about 75, quietly picking her nose; otherwise nothing and noone of note.

Todi Ponte Rio, longish wait for bus up to centro storico, as always; plus the same bus shows up a first time at 1222 looping out to Pian di Porto (see last time I did this) then back at 1236 and upwards; with a twist this time: driver, with bureaucratic regulations on his side, quite refused to let me and a young local woman sit on it — almost empty — on the first pass; we only had tickets for the centro. . . .

Lunacies aside, got to Bruno and Gabriele Ursini's ottica at a quarter 'til lunchtime closing 12:45; Gabriele big grin and ben tornato: gave him my camera — felt quite naked without it after that — to clean the mirror and eyepiece; granted no effect on lens & thus pix, but all that dirt to the eye is psychologically unsettling when I'm trying to shoot a good picture.

Lunch at the Umbria — and here I have to report an end to all good things. Good but no stars; prolly related to the father, who died last year: without him the restaurant has started to go downhill; next time in Todi I'll try somewhere new. Anyway, antipasto: anatra tartufata (1120, a bit greasy, tasting neither of duck nor truffle); primo: fettucine all' ortolana (12.520, way too salty); and even the beef tongue in green sauce that used to be so wonder­ful, at most a 13.5 — served too warm, at which point the sauce separates, plus I think, as with the ortolana sauce, too much oil. Opted for a full bottle of something good — Sagrantino di Monte­falco Arnaldo-Caprai 48 ML (no Adanti, I asked) — rather than a half of Sangiovese; shared it with a family of Strines, from Sydney, father, mother, daughter, her boyfriend, no Italian and I helped them with the menu once it became apparent that their puzzlement and rummaging thru guidebook glossaries had passed from amusement to frustration. Withal — 1995 — too young, tannic to the point of astringency: the old Umbria, impeccable in its wines, would never have made that mistake. A zuppa inglese, grappa (prime uve from Treviso) and coffee, 102 ML; closing a chapter.

Post-prandial to the Rocca, then a caffé on the piazza, beauti­ful as always; 4:30-ish my camera back, 5:22 bus to station, and eventless trip back (very good connections) putting me home before Giuseppina closed. Evening news reported that TG2 and TG5 had both carried the Aug 17 Clinton interrogation video live; from squibbets, can't say I think much of the TG2 interpreter. To bed.

Slept very well, although woke up — gorgeous day — at 0650 with slight sore throat again, I hope I don't have some kind of abscess. A bit of a mad rush — pushups, dishes, laundry, shower, breakfast, news, weather, packing — but made the 0854 to Foligno with a coupla minutes to spare; now on the 0919 to Ancona just about ready to get off at Fossato di Vico, expecting to walk to Gubbio via Sigillo, Costacciaro and Scheggia — in fact the Flaminia via Suillum and Schisa/ad Aesim — and stay in Gubbio tonight to see the theater in the morning. A joy to have a Net connection: this morning I accessed my own diary (Oct. 7 last year) to check additional info — Dr. Vispi's phone number, etc.

Splendid walking weather: blue skies, an occasional small fluff of cloud, about 68°.

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