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Cantalupo (Perugia province)

A town of central Umbria, a frazione of Bevagna: 42°58.0N, 12°34.6E. Altitude: 201 m.

[image ALT: A truncated stone obelisk about 4 meters high, surmounted by a metal eagle in flight. The side facing the camera is the front, and bears the low relief sculpture of a soldier in battle gear; beneath him, carved garlands and the inscription in bronze letters, CANTALUPO AI SUOI CADUTI. The monument is set on three steps in a small lawn under a few pine trees. It is the Monument to the War Dead in Cantalupo, near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

Cantalupo a suoi Caduti: Cantalupo to her War Dead.

Cantalupo is a farming community in the low alluvial plains of central Umbria, on the Torrente Attone, a tributary of the Topino River that it joins 5 km to the NE at Cannara; she is 4½ km NW of Bevagna (of which she is a frazione or dependent village); about a kilometer or two along the same road you come to the Franciscan shrine at Pian d'Arca, then eventually Bettona, 10 km NW.

The village stretches a few hundred meters along the road, and has a church:

[image ALT: missingALT]

My photo of this church, taken in 2004, innocently conceals a photo that I failed to take in 1997 because the façade was then even taller, and, the street being narrow, would not fit in a single picture without a wide-angle lens, a piece of equipment I've never owned. It's a pity, because in seven years the church changed tremendously: that taller façade was of an alarming bright red-orange glazed tile, with large modern sculptures of Christ and St. Rocco. It was taken down shortly after my first visit, and I don't know what happened to it; for a few more details, see my diary (first 1997, then 2004).

Fortunately, not everything has changed. In the loggia of a private house on the main square — the basket-handle arch by the way is typical of central Umbrian farmhouses, see for example this one at Cannaiola about 20 km SE of here — the visitor can get a glimpse of a rather attractive semi-naïve mural painting of the Annunciation, charmingly presented as a framed portrait being unveiled by cherubs:

[image ALT: A two-story stone house of irregular stone masonry: the ground floor is windowless although pierced by a large door. It is the façade of a large private house, with a mural of the Annunciation barely distinguishable under the first two arches from the left, at Cantalupo near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

[image ALT: Two of the arches of the loggia seen in the previous photo; behind them one can make out a wall painting as described in the text of this webpage. It is an Annunciation at Cantalupo near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

My guess is eighteenth-century; it might conceivably be as late as the twentieth, although one wouldn't expect it to be damaged in so short a time.

[image ALT: A wall painting, in a rather flat and naïve style, of an angel holding a lily in his right hand and raising his left arm; in front of him, to our right, a haloed woman looks up from a book she has been reading. It is an Annunciation at Cantalupo near Bevagna, Umbria (central Italy).]

The Yearly Festival

If you are more interested in food than in churches, you should not miss the annual festival or sagra. Held during the nine days that span the last two weekends of August, Cantalupo's Sagra della Lumaca is a celebration of snails, of different varieties and cooked up in various ways: roasted, sautéed, or on bruschetta for example. The profits from the event — for profits there are, it is very well attended — go to restore and protect the village's artistic and historical treasures.

The Placename Cantalupo

And finally, if you are looking for the Cantalupo from which English and French derive the name of a kind of melon — this is not the one. Cantalupo is not an uncommon name in Italy, applied to wild little places where one might hear the howl of the wolf (lupo in Italian); and the one you want is apparently Cantalupo in Sabina, much closer to Rome, where the Popes are reputed to have had a villa from which fresh produce was brought to the papal table.

The flat country north and east of Bevagna, any terrain below an altitude of 220 m or so, lay underwater in Roman times, and was only fully reclaimed in the 16c, with even then and now a tendency to marshes when it rains; not surprising then the howl of the wolf, nor even, about 6 km SE, between Bevagna and Budino, the song of chickens: Cantagalli.

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Page updated: 1 Oct 19