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Bastardo (Perugia province)

[image ALT: A view of some silos near Bastardo, Umbria (central Italy).]

Typical scenery on the outskirts of Bastardo.

Bastardo is the largest place in Umbria not to be a self-determining comune; though it is the economic engine of its area, it does not have its own mayor or town council: it is a frazione of Giano dell' Umbria, a much smaller town some 7 km to the south.

As with many other things in Umbria, history is the key. Giano, secure on its hill, is at least a thousand years old, and Bastardo is a much newer settlement in the valley of the Puglia: though that creek is small, the town nestles up to it in a slight hollow, and once the dangerous Middle Ages were over, the convenience of travel on the flat made the road thru Bastardo much more useful than other roads in the area. At some point in the 17th century, as far as I've been able to tell, an enterprising fellow set up a stable and a hotel here, an osteria: must have been an outsider, to judge from the name given to his establishment by locals: Osteria del bastardo, "the bastard's inn." The more colorful word stuck, and you have an oddly-named little town of generally modern appearance; only three or four centuries old: isn't that a bit young to be running your own comune?

The economy of Bastardo is based on medium and light industry: food processing (especially wheat and olive oil) and construction materials at the top of the list. Though the town itself has no outstanding sights and no crooked little streets with medieval cobblestones, when you're there you're in the very center of the Colli Martani, an area of Umbria known for its unspoiled beauty and its Romanesque churches; I've come to appreciate Bastardo — two good hotels right in town, each with its restaurant — as an ideal base for a week of walking, horseback riding, or bicycling.

Here are some of the most local sights; I have a feeling I'll be editing this page in a year or two to add a few more, since I like the area and haven't seen everything:

[image ALT: The pedimented upper story of a small church and an adjacent belfry, rather spindlier than usual. It is a partial view of the church of S. Francesco in Bastardo, Umbria (central Italy).]

S. Francesco is a small 19c church on the N edge of town. It's an odd location, and whatever the story behind it, I don't know it yet; next trip, maybe.

[ 1 page, 3 photos ]

[image ALT: A muddy stream about 50 cm wide and maybe only 1 or 2 cm deep flowing under a cylindrically vaulted passage of large square stones. It is a view of the Roman bridge at Cavallara, Umbria (central Italy), from underneath.]

If you're interested in ancient Rome, the town will be on your map because of the Ponte del Diavolo, an attractive if somewhat neglected Roman bridge which, though administratively in the neighboring township of Gualdo Cattaneo, is a ten‑minute walk from downtown Bastardo.

[ 1 page, 4 photos ]

Finally, if you're planning a trip and considering the area, you'll definitely find it useful to read these entries of my diary, which include photos of course: Apr. 22‑24, 2004 (4 webpages) • May 3, 2004.

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Page updated: 31 Oct 04