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Thursday 15 October

(Lots of catching up now. . . Sitting on the 1613 out of Grosseto to Rome, trains are useful for something.)

Sunday 11 was in fact relatively straightforward: we woke up later than we usually do, of c. did the now finally open Museo Faína, had a longish lunch, then walked down to the Crocifisso di Tufo for a somewhat more careful visit — now that I'm this grand webguru of things Roman, supposedly — and wound up the day with an unexpectedly good meal.

The Museo Faina is mostly pottery — lots of bucchero in very good condition, often attractive but it must have been rather sinister having a house full of black stuff — but two very good sarcophagi:º one simple, just the dead man's full length portrait on the cover; the other, a completely carved set of reliefs of the most mysterious scenes, what looked very much like a coupla semi-ritual human sacrifices on the long sides. Etruscans very peculiar although an uninformed look at a Christian church (guy writing a book next to a lion, pigeons divebombing an attractive young maiden, man with dog lifting his breeches to show us a boil, serpent talking with a nude woman, etc.) would produce much the same impression.​a

Lunch at the Taverna dell' Etrusco by way of thanx: pretty good. I had ombrichelle alla Taverna, bocconcini di cinghiale, and a negligible Orvietano I.G.T.: Cardeto (1997); better ones were on the menu, but I made a bad choice thru ignorance: anyway, it wasn't bad. James had gnocchi "all' Etrusco" and scaloppine al limone. I had a dessert, actually had ice cream for once — a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream much improved by being "affogato" or dunked in a fair amount of very strong coffee.

Quiet walk down to the Crocifisso di Tufo — seemed much closer than in 1993 — and canvassed all these dead Etruscans, door by door by door, inscriptions, Web fodder. Etruscans surely short people, no matter what; even if everyone always says we moderns are tall and everyone else not — which I don't believe, by and large.

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The interior of one of the Etruscan tombs of Crocifisso di Tufo near Orvieto.

Nearing sunset, back up the same way, where we found S. Giovenale open: a peek inside and tons of stuff, we decided to go back the next day. The priest and the sacristan were carrying a bulletin board thru the church but asked us to help — we did, it was light — the sacristan knows the church well and would guide us around; we postponed this to next morning — S. Giovenale is open 0830‑1300.

At the hotel, showers, and a dose of news for me (James not much interested in news here, whether Italian or American — can't say I am either, but I feel a bit isolated, I'll be here nearly 3 months); and at a suitably late hour to find restaurants open and glad to serve us — apparently Germans eat at seven and this annoys some restaurateurs even tho' they're open and altho' they're polite about it — we did our wander around the streets and argue thing, finally out of sheer exhaustion falling on La Grotta in part because we thought it was Le Grotte del Funaro mentioned in (quirky and very incomplete) Michelin as feeding its customers in a vaulted ambiente molto suggestivo. . . .

The Grotta was very good. We didn't eat quite so much — after all, we'd had lunch and didn't feel like a Class A blowout — but the owner is a good psychologist and quite correctly read us as people who enjoy being educated; after all, what's travel for.

Education: agnello alla cacciatore (James: coniglio salsa verde) and a cheese platter, suggested by the owner otherwise I wouldn't have had it. Glad we did; a good Camembert, Reblochon, Gorgonzola; and two Italian cheeses I didn't know — a Taleggio and a Robbiolina, both of them uncooked and from the Bergamasco. A rather good Orvietano red, Calanco "Le Velette" 1995; no dessert or coffee, but a sweet white suggested, good, also from Le Velette, Il Raggio 1993. Grappa: Jacopo Poli, an Amorosa di Torcolato, particularly soft and fragrant, and Poli a famous maker I've had before; James had a grappa di Schioppetino from the E hills of the Friuli, rather sharp and, well, grappalike. It was particularly nice at any rate to meet with an Italian cheese that wasn't a variant of pecorino or tomme.

Later Note:

a lion, pigeons, etc.: St. Mark (or St. Jerome), the Annunciation, St. Rocco, the Temptation of Eve, respectively.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20