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Friday 4 November

[. . .]

Today, I was primed to wake up in time to catch the 7:35 for Terni, get off at Cesi, and walk back to Todi via Sangémini and other parts; instead I shut off the alarm and woke up at 8:05 — and pretty much dashed out to the 8:42 bus and the 9:05 is it? train —

And once I got on, I inquired about stopping at Cesi, and found out it didn't, not even as a call stop — so I totally revamped my plans, got off at Acquasparta and did an almost completely different walk: from the train station into Acquasparta which I'd never actually visited, just rushed thru in the dark on two different occasions; then to Casteldelmonte up in the hills; then to the top of M. Rotondo at 804 m just so I shall have 'done' one of these hills;​1 then the plan was to go to Cesi, down to Sangémini and over to Cesi Station, altho' that isn't what I wound up doing.​a

The day was bright blue and sunny but with a fairly strong haze obliterating any distant views — shirt definitely off until the last limb of sun set (by then it was cool, and with the sun down there's no point wandering around shirtless); the temperature was ideal to 1°C warm almost all day — my face and arms and even chest a bit feel tight, so I probably add to my tan: and this is November!

[image ALT: The façade of a 16th‑century church taken from an odd angle. It is the church of S. Cecilia in Acquasparta, Umbria (central Italy).]

Acquasparta really isn't much more than I'd seen on my dashes in the dark: there's a rather elegant church and a handsome Renaissance palazzo and about 5 medieval streets and that's about it. Withal, lost in its suburbs altho' not as bad as Massa or of course! Terni —

Getting out of Acquasparta onto the right road took some thinking; and finally, I still had to hoof it up thru the brush (even my maps told me this) to get my road to Casteldelmonte but the brush was here and there dotted with different kinds of mushrooms, including a rather spectacular black-and‑white mottled kind; one of the very many things I'm totally, totally ignorant of, mushrooms — [. . .]

[image ALT: A small mushroom growing from a patch of dead leaves and twigs, somewhere in Umbria (central Italy).]

The road to Casteldelmonte (one word both on my maps and on the road signs) a bit dull: also, the north side of a hill makes for cool shady walking — welcome in July but less in November; no complaint, however: a different side of Umbria. From the turnoff to Casteldelmonte proper (off the road to Spoleto, one car every three minutes) to the town itself, 2 km — not a single car passed nor crossed me, all the way into the center and back out — altho' I heard tractor noises in the fields.

[image ALT: The main street of a small town, with a large stone buildings on one side, arcaded and with a central round tower. It is a view of Casteldelmonte, in Terni province, Umbria (central Italy).]

Casteldelmonte​b is not very much of a place; the church was open, an old man was lighting a candle and settling down to pray; I said my prayer as a guest, standing up at the back of the church; a plaster crucifix, over the altar, that was rather good — never thought I'd write such a thing — and a painting, in the first left chapel, that was quite good (17th century probably and a bit rough, but still good) — I think a Deposition, but I really didn't dare squint, even less photograph, with the old man putting the church to its proper use. The piazza, pleasant.

Out and up M. Rotondo: up is easy; you get to the top by going up. (Down is another matter, I got quite lost and probably did 3 km instead of one. . .). The tops of wooded hills are a disappointment — I'd forgotten — since no views because you can't climb the trees; fortunately I found a little gap from which I had a view onto Spoleto 19 km away by road, probably 10 or fewer by air; and just 2 m from the very top — marked by a cairn to which, readings of Arctic adventures aiding, I added my rock — about thirty feet west of it, a good view North and East: I stopped five minutes (what else is there to do at the top of a hill?) [. . .]

Note in the Diary:

1 from Acquasparta station 277 m alt. → 527 m differential, the most this trip so far —

Later Notes:

a after two more near misses in 1998 and 2000, I finally visited Cesi on my fourth pass, in 2004 — then was too sick to record it properly at the time in my diary. See my pages on the town, though.

b The name, more formally spelled Castel del Monte and meaning "Hill Castle", is a common one in Italy. If you are looking for the famous castle built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, it is not this place, rather the one in Bari province, Puglia: see the webpages at the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

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