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Wednesday 30 September

OK: I seem to be utterly incapable of sticking to a plan. Monday morning, my plan was to take the putt-putt to Bastia, and from there walk to Bettona and its Etruscan walls, then Torgiano, then Deruta and take the usual combination of FCU and FS back home.

Instead, I walked to Todi.

Started out innocently: I walked down to the station figuring I'd catch the next train N; I hadn't looked at the schedule, 'cause it expired Sept. 26th. At the station, I found I'd just missed the 0855 and would have to wait over an hour for a(1014, I think)nother. At which point I did the logical thing and said, OK, let's walk to Todi. Hey, I was primed for an estimated 31 km, why not 47? and off I went.

This particular instance of unpredictability paid off nicely: I could not have sat down, calculated and ordered better weather along my route, as I watched rainstorms to the north, east and south of me. . . and I've since learned there was hail in Assisi, maybe elsewhere. I on the other hand enjoyed perfect 70° temperatures with nice stiff breezes, and got the slightest spritz of drizzle exactly where I was hoping I might, during the last 2 km up to the Porta Perugina of Todi; but the first few kilometers, nice sun to help warm up the calves: really amazing weather.

To the Madonna della Fiamenga, and indeed to Bevagna, no surprises; although despite having been here a month now, it was the first time since last year I'd walked the vaguely unpleasant roadlet to the Madonna. Took a pic or two of the tombs (260 paces apart, not "150 m" as I say on my webpage — one more correction to make​a) by blue sky which may replace the ones I have online now.

Didn't go in to Bevagna at all, skirting the town on the main road; at the bridge over the larger river — the river situation at Bevagna is very confusing, several of them — for example the Clitunno shows up here as a meter-wide flow of mud (at least after big rains as on Monday) — I asked an old man, meditatively standing by his bicycle looking at the town, who gave me good clear directions for getting to Gualdo,​b except for one thing: he said the road was paved only up to the Madonne delle Grazie, and after that it was, no, not asfaltata but "normale"; which was interesting as a time capsule of sorts: first, that normal should mean unpaved, but mostly like the light from a distant star, what he described was no longer there.

Steepish in spots climb to the Madonna delle Grazie, a building very much more attractive from far away than from close up: 17th-, maybe 18th‑century hulk very beauti­fully sited but not too well maintained. Right at the church, a small and nearly hidden road in steep descent (seemed like a waste of energy. . .) with signs for both Gáglioli and Gualdo, about 4 and 7 km away respectively.

The road to Gaglioli is mostly oak and pine — the cleft between the Mad. delle Grazie and Gaglioli being rather steep, there's not enough sun for olive trees I think — and felt like more wasted effort, down then up; a very large and well-organised campground in the pines at one point, closed already, with individual brick barbecue grills dotting maybe an acre of shade, and across from it a large parking lot and a sign that parking further on is prohibited except to local residents, something that I tried to make sense of: Gaglioli is over a mile away and granted there's nothing much there, but doesn't anyone ever stop there?

Gaglioli at last. "At last" because last year in Bevagna I was talking with some of the local high-schoolers, and had said I was doing lots of Umbria on foot, and was getting to know Umbria well: one of them burbled back "Do you know Gaglioli?" and much merriment; now I know what I only suspected then: it's a very small place. Two streets and a cross-lane, no piazza, a church. The church inagibile, according to the first resident I talked with. She felt the earthquake, but from her acc't I could tell it was already nowhere near as strong as in Spello; still the church — nothing inside, no frescoes — is kaput, with cracks in the ceiling; mass is said, on Saturdays, in a private house: the parroco is that of Gualdo 3 km away, altho' Gaglioli is a frazione of Bevagna.

I mentioned to the second resident I talked with — in fact, I only saw these two old ladies — that there is a tombstone in Spello from Roman times that I suspect has something to do with Gaglioli — that of a man named CAIOLIVS, in the Palazzo Comunale — and she said that there's a book about Gaglioli, someone she knows has a copy, which says the town goes back to the Trecento and two brothers.

A fairly flat piece immediately out of Gaglioli the 3 km to Gualdo, suddenly now on the W side of the crest shifting to wide views mostly west and south, but at one point Spello and at another Assisi can be seen. Olives again, en masse; and an attractive view of Gualdo, its torrione looking for all the world like the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor.

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A view of Gualdo Cattaneo from the E, on the road from Gaglioli

A curious very possibly natural, then possibly not, outcrop of large vaguely rectangular stones attracted my attention; the usual rule: take pictures first, argue later.

About 1.5 km yet to Gualdo, at the fork to Pomonte 4 km distant, a little church; and further on, a sweet little tempietto — concrete columns, an iron gate, a fresco of the Annunciation in imitation of late medieval, in curious prolly due to aging pastel colors; with a dedicatory tile with the head of an attractive if severe-looking woman of fiftyish, to whom her two sons.​c

Gualdo at around 1:20 P.M.; signs at the entrance note the Rocca (1494), the church of SS. Antonio and Antonino (1260), of S. Andrea (13c), of S. Agostino (1136). DeAgostini ignores S. Andrea — and it mustn't be much, since I didn't find it, although admittedly I didn't ask; the main church is that of SS. A&A: a very large brick thing, 16c‑17c; with a crypt, a true crypt, in which the bodies (per a 16c I think — wait 'til my photo is printed — inscription) of A and A, martyrs both; and that of the Blessed Ugolino. Pitch dark, couldn't find any light switch, but used the pre-flash on my camera to see a bit better by: four capitalled columns, bits of Romanesque and Renaissance sculpture, and in a glass case the brown-robed desiccated corpse of I imagine il Beato Ugolino; still fleshy skull and one hand visible. Of the presumably older martyrs maybe reduced to the contents of a skatebag-sized box opposite.

By good fortune I found an open bakery, had two fruit juices, a pastry (cream-filled, called a maritozzo), a very large piece of apple torta (these torte are neither pies nor cakes, never know what to call them!) — this on the spot; three pizze and two more pieces of pastry for the road. The baker wanted to talk about Clinton — Ate my lunch in the small plane-shaded triangular p.zza Beato Ugolino behind the church.

The big tower is essentially unphotographable from close up, except from the piazza — and they've gone and strung, needlessly it seems to me, a large ugly cable over the street right in front of it. . . .

Down the hill, rather sharp and long descent, to (maybe) Ponte di Ferro, or at least a road going back up the west range, purportedly to Collesecco, between a not unhandsome power plant and a (much less attractive) lignite mine, "of Acquarossa".​d In fact from here for a few km I wasn't so sure where I was, which gradually turned into I was lost: but pleasant windswept crest with vast views, as at Gualdo itself.

And somehow I wound up overlooking Bastardo from the north from a castello — big farmhouse across from this empty ruin; in the farmhouse yard, among many loose stones, one prominent block of Roman travertine: the only Roman stone I saw after Bevagna and all the way to Todi.​e

So anyhow, I somehow missed Collesecco and thus S. Terenziano and its church; which was just as well 'cause I didn't have the time to find the guardian, open it up, do a full visit — instead, the long empty road from Bastardo endlessly up tho' not at all steeply, to the fork near Torri (which looks like it'd be nice to visit, plus a nearby church, too), then to Petroro and Duesanti, at some point (the 2d viaduct) reaching a point walked to in 1994 on that day when it was just too cold and I turned back. . . .

Almost no traffic; and just the right amount of wind. Threatening rain but not really, near me blue, gold, umber and green with that eerie luminous quality of late afternoon thunderstorms in the middle distance: you could actually see the rain falling in thin Oxford-grey shafts here and there — but not on me. Dark, almost black clouds on top, ultramarine sky right beneath, like something out of my grandfather's paintings.

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Just exiting the little pine woods before Petroro, maybe two minutes very light spritzing of rain, tiny drops evaporating as they touched the skin —

I've already gone into ecstasies before about this particular landscape — one of the great landscapes of the world — the occasional apparition of Todi as the Heavenly Jerusalem, compact on its hill up out of the plain in shades of distant blue-grey — but it was every bit as beauti­ful this time; a gratefully received distraction since I was starting to hurt a bit, although not at all in the calves, and no cramps, and no hip joint pain: but a very occasional lancing pain down the back of the thigh, and a slight but persistent pain in the little muscles behind my left knee — Still, nothing compared to the problems I had last year, on the walk from Trevi to Bevagna for example. It was a good feeling to be back in shape; and in fact, although it wasn't the record 57 miles (90 km!) that I did one day in 1982 (on flat territory), followed by 46 miles the next day, 47 (estimated) km is respectable and I only remember walking that kind of distance once before, in 1966: perversely, those 46 km if I remember the figure aright, also in up-and‑down territory, from Orgibet or Illartein or some such place thru the Col du Portet d'Aspet to Haut-Barbazan. . . Anyway, it's good I'm OK again.

The last 2 km slope up to the Perugina, I never stopped, but plodded up at an intentionally very, very slow pace: the trick I found years ago still works. There's actually quite a bit more hill inside the Porta Perugina, which I forget every time; I arrived sort of tired — read: I threw myself down on a chair and groaned — in the Ursini's shop at 7:55 P.M.; stopping there hardly to take my photos, but mostly to see a familiar face: one of the things about being here all by myself is there's really noone to share my little triumphs with!

Anyway, Bruno asked me if he should call Padre Carlo — a Capuchin monk I met a week ago in his store, whose convent rents rooms — anticipating me, since I really didn't want to stay at the Cesia, who knows why. Yes, and he did, and he walked me down about 200 m to the Convento del Sacro Cuore at 2, via Cesia. A large ascetic room in tones of beige (although sheets of an alarming robin's-egg blue), and a splendid bathroom. Stood in the shower forever — hot water — then to bed with the morning's Herald Trib bought in Spello but not yet read — and turned off the light surely before 9 and slept.

Later Notes:

a I made the correction, of course: the orientation page to that part of the Flaminia, with both those tombs, is here.

b There are two places by that name in Umbria large enough to be among the region's 92 comuni. The larger one by far is Gualdo Tadino: it is on the Via Flaminia 33 km N of Foligno, and I walked there a month after this. (See diary entry and photo.) The entry on this page, however, records my visit of Gualdo Cattaneo: it is in a sparsely populated area of the Colli Martani about 13 km SW of Foligno.

Usually the toponym Gualdo derives from a Germanic word meaning forest (modern German, Wald), and there are thus many places that acquired the name during the period of German domination in the high Middle Ages. For a very brief mention of one of these smaller places, with a link to its webpage mind you, see my walk by Gualdo di Narni.

c Not as accurate as I could have been. See my page on her monument, with photos. The little church is S. Anna, formerly S. Maria delle Grotte.

d For details, if second-hand, see diary, Feb. 28, 2004.

e During the course of a much more leisurely pass thru Bastardo in 2004, I learned that the castle is that of Sumigni (local pronuncation; seen in print, Simigni and sometimes Semigni; with GoogleMaps calling it Somigni). As for the Roman stone, it's logical I saw none crossing the area E to W: in 2004, I saw quite a lot of Roman travertine in the area, when I walked it S to N, more or less tracking the now pretty much vanished Via Flaminia; and if I was going to see Roman stone on this walk, this is about where I should have expected to see it, within 2 miles at most of the Roman road. See diary, Apr. 23, 2004.

This entry also doesn't say that I was actually in Bastardo — but I was, and upset to be there, naturally; at the spot marked 
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	on the map, the road I was on dead-ended against another road, with no sign to help me. To go to Collesecco I should have turned right; I turned left and wound up tracing the road thru Sumigni down to the western fringes of Bastardo.

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Page updated: 23 Feb 22