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Tuesday 27 October 1998

(On a train to Ancona — I'm actually going there, finally, after going to and thru various places on the line these past 2 years — at 9:15 A.M. by splendid weather: an opportunity to catch up —)

Saturday 24th, after some fairly thorough housecleaning (in part preparing for James's trip back this week: wondering what books to saddle him with, and prolly buy another suitcase —) we left for Amelia: putt-putt at 1233, Foligno 1238 quick change and out at 1243, Narni Scalo at 1339, with just the time to hang around in front of the station and watch the crowd of people at the bar buying Superenalotto tickets; about 20 mostly middle-aged men in a pall of smoke and a frazzled cashier. People driving up to the bar at the rate of about one car every 40 seconds, getting out purpose­fully with fistfuls of schedine and into the bar. The jackpot was expected to be about 35 billion lire. (It wasn't won at the Saturday evening drawing, so the new figure expected is around 50 billion for tomorrow's drawing. At first church authorities were blasting it, but they've backed off, now saying it's OK unless you're selling your baby's food — or your baby — to get the cash. . .) Anyhow, the scene kept me in chuckles for the length of our wait; James of course thought this improper of me.

Unevent­ful bus ride to Amelia, bus about a third full if that: the after-school bus; one of the kids had the largest nose I think I've ever seen, and was talking with a friend who looked almost exactly like Jason Dungjen. About half the bus emptied out in dribbles before Amelia; as often, nearly all boys.

Up to the Carlèni​a immediately, me carrying our shared suitcase; our hotelkeeper at the door by good fortune, Massimo Ralli but of course I greeted him with "Buon giorno, Signor Martedì!" — it seems an American couple with little Greek and no Italian, who'd stayed at the Carleni a few days and had been charmed — it really is a pleasant hotel, after all that's why I took James there — later wrote him and his wife a little note at Christmas, starting with "Caro Chiuso e Martedì" . . . puzzling at which for some time, they finally had a blinding flash and looked at one of the guides that listed them: "Il Carlèni: Chiuso Lunedì e Martedì" . . . !

[image ALT: A wide panorama of plains and very distant hills, with the horizon as far as thirty or forty kilometers away, over a few tiled Mediterranean rooftops of a small village. It is a view of southwestern Umbria and northern Lazio from a hotel in Amelia, Umbria (central Italy).]

A mosaic of four photos from the balcony of my hotel, looking W towards the Tiber and Viterbo.

Anyway, ensconced in Room 1, the best one, with the extensive view; took a shower — sweat from the bag up the hill — and hit the streets; down the v. della Repubblica and the Arco more or less Romano, the Via something like Amerina, and the large SE chunk of walls usually referred to as Etruscan yet four different good books on things and places Etruscan don't so much as mention Amelia; and the Laterza skirts the question very firmly, referring to them as polygonal. So basically the same route I did last time I was in Amelia, except streamlined this time; and dinner after the evening dose of news: the hotel or possibly all of Amelia gets, in addition to the Italian channels, a French-speaking Belgian channel, CNN, a German and a Spanish channel, the best of which, for clear and fairly comprehensive news, seems to be the last; although of course the German is mostly opaque to me, but the news segments are short and cover the same ground as everyone else.

Dinner was good: bits of foie gras with little gratings of carrot (doesn't work) and celeriac (does); James had the gnocchi in a tomato and basil cream sauce, christened Sorrentina — I had tagliatelleº ai funghi porcini; James and I then both had the filetto drowned in mushrooms and possibly a speck of tartufo — they admit to using the scorzone — which I found very good, and James found quite salty (which pazzle me completely, I'm usually the salt-sensitive one); I had my two desserts: crème brûlée and the reine de Saba that Marie-France calls "Dutch cake" because she heard the recipe on Dutch radio, altho' she's since been told by several Dutch people that it's not Dutch. Wine, a simple Colli Amerini red good but not special; grappa, bed.

Thayer's Note:

a The Hotel Carleni closed some time around 2005 or 2006.

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