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Tuesday 8 September 1998

And I did get up yesterday at 4 — to move the alarm to 6 then ditto at 6, and finally woke up at 7:45; so chose instead of Rome to have a large breakfast and go to Spoleto to see some of the things I missed last year.

12:33 train, brief wait at Foligno, and Spoleto at 13:21 on time. Weather close to perfect.

Stopped at the Ponte Sanguinario since it was on the way, but my two goals were the amphitheatre and S. Pietro; the first was a failure: the amphitheatre — or what's left of it (the 12c church of S. Gregorio Minore or "de Griptis" and a 14c monastery occupy the cavea & arena), viz. about 2 or 3 cunei of the ambulacrum, are firmly locked up inside a military barracks. Ring the bell and a woman's voice will tell you it's in restauro, but of course this is nonsense; noone's restoring anything — I did my usual inquiries — and it's been closed for many, many years. (At the Piazza della Torre dell' Olio it took some doing to convince three old ladies denizens of a 17c building ex-barracks also, that there was an amphitheater — so that's alive and well here too. . .)

Anyway, up the hill to the said old ladies, at the gate just after the Torre and before the piazza in fact — curious inscription in which Spoleto takes credit for staving off Hannibal fresh from his victory at Tuoro; little church of S. Giovanni e Paolo — frescoes inside, key during normal business hours at the Museum of Modern Art in the via Mazzini, vicolo III°; pleasant church façade of S. Nicolò da Bari, early 14c: bits of cloister, hexagonal or octagonal pillars of alternating pink and white stone slices, with a large crane and construction or wrecking going on right next to it, everything very closed.

Theatre open this time, did a thorough visit. Much of the supporting arches on the E side are still in place; lots of lapidary débris piled around outside the outer wall; was able to get good pictures of the orchestra pavement, and some slight bits of colored marble (paonazzetto? I never get them straight) remain of the facing of the balteus.

[image ALT: A square terracotta plaque about 50 cm on a side, very roughly textured yet covered with a rather regular inscription. It is the 'B' inscription of the Lex Spoletina, in the museum of the Roman theatre in Spoleto.]

The "B" inscription, CIL I2.2872, found in 1913. It is very similar to the "A" inscription, CIL I2.366 = XI.4766, found earlier, and it may well be a fake. (If you need a completely readable large scan of this, just let me know.)

Museum occupies a few rooms of the 2‑story cloister to the side of the theatre. Surprised to see the Lex Spoletina inscription nicely displayed; no sign not to photograph, so got recto and verso of the "A" stone, agreed to be real, and recto only of the "B", said by some to be a fake (FWIW, my gut concurring — it just doesn't feel right), before a docent came in and told me no photographs — except of a fresco of no great interest — the sign for which is a little 4″ typed card at the exit from the museum . . . and which in fact says "rivolgersi alla Direzione" but the Direzione was on vacation — I was lucky, tho': the other inscriptions were of very minor interest. Well I do as I'm told, but it's the type of thing che mi fa arrabbiare — serving very little purpose, all the less so that upon paying my entrance fee the first thing I asked was to buy a copy of any guide or catalog yet there was none. Another case of archeology types and their private preserves — restricting access to information for the sheer sake of restriction — "A" found in 1879, "B" in 1913. . . .

Otherwise, the sparse museum — two rooms of maybe 20 inscriptions and a coupla heads; upstairs, one room with mostly potsherds — attractively and informatively presented. ₤4000 for the theatre and the museum together is priced about right for the casual tourist.

From there to S. Pietro: a cluttered façade of very good Romanesque sculpture, something of the effect of ND‑la‑Grande in Poitiers but not as old and three times the size; over and next to the arched entrance to some attached buildings, now pleasant houses (cats, canaries, geraniums), bits and pieces of Roman stone, including 2 inscriptions, one easy, one not (and fragmentary). Inside the church, completely redone in 1699, the walls and pillars covered in purple hangings: rather pleasant if of no interest. I stayed maybe an hour, shooting about a roll and a half of film and finished just as the sky moved to overcast and 5:30 P.M.

Train at 6:08, walked quickly from S. Pietro to the station, quite prepared — I don't have a watch — to miss the train and sit around the station for the next; got there with 45 seconds to spare, train just pulling in. . . Home at 7:55, rather heavy dinner of spaghetti, some fresh tomatoes — seem to have lost the garlic during the move — and to bed and to sleep before 10.

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