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Italy

Italy, Day 12

The Tour Ends

sunny

Our official Country Walkers Umbria and Assisi walking tour has come to an end. To celebrate, the local Country Walkers rep, Alex, made arrangements for Deedie and I to have dinner at La Laconda del Cardinale. The restaurant is located in a building that sits atop an ancient neighborhood, dating back to the first century BCE. To help us get better acquainted with our ancient surroundings, the restaurant features glass floors, that offer a view into that ancient world, as well as artifacts arranged in cases in the restaurant. Deedie and I sat close to what was the "living/dining room" of a house, mosaic and all. It was fascinating.

The restaurant offered a tasting menu, accompanied by a local wine-- a choice of white or red. We chose red. Here's a photo of the menu (top tasting menu) and a couple of the plates, along with a photo of the mosaic:
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I think I liked the second course the best.

After dinner, we wandered back to the Hotel Ideale. Deedie finished up most of her packing and set her alarm for 6:30, in order to allow plenty of time to enjoy some breakfast and then to catch her train that would take her to the Castle where Jenny is.

The morning came. We had a lovely breakfast in the courtyard of the Ideale. And, then Deedie was off on her next adventure.
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As for myself, I spent the morning visiting churches (including the Basilica di Santa Chiara, or Saint Clare) and doing a little shopping. In the afternoon, I rested, took my Covid test (a BinaxNow "at home" test, which came out negative, so like it or not, I'll be heading home) and then wandered around a bit more. It's now time to find a little dinner and then get to packing. Giorgio will pick me up around 10:45 and deliver me to the train station, where I'll take a train to Rome. Then, the train to the airport. My flight is the following morning, on Wednesday. I'll stay overnight at the airport Hilton.
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Ciao, Italia!

Posted by ReisAdventures 17:17 Archived in Italy Tagged italy basilica country santa umbria assisi di chiara walkers 2021 Comments (0)

Italy, Day 11, The Last Day: Mount Subasio

And a Giant Italian Sinkhole

Distance: around 6 miles
Elevation: who knows, but a lot of downhill

This morning, Deedie and I gathered up our Route Notes book from Country Walkers, to review over breakfast and cappuccini. Breakfast at the Hotel Ideale isn't the best breakfast we've had, but it is the loveliest setting-- outdoors, with a great view.

This was our last day of walking. Although we both feel pretty good, our feet have taken a beating. Plus, we didn't get to the Basilica yesterday and wanted to make sure that we could do that today.

Today's "Route Note" detailed an "easy to moderate" 16km walk (+500/-3700 ft), or 10 miles, starting near the top of Mount Subasio, then going to the top, taking the long climb down through Collepino (a little town on the side of the mountain) and then down to Spello. The alternative "shorter/easier" option was listed at 8.6km (5.3 miles) and started in Collepino and going down from there to Spello.

When our trusty local guide, Giorgio, came to pick us up, we told him that we had decided to take the shorter/easier option so that we would have time to get to the Basilica di San Francesco in the afternoon, so he should drop us off in Collepino. Giorgio wanted no part of our plan. How could we possibly be this close to Mount Subasio and not go to the top?? Non. Non. Non.

So, off we went to take on Giorgio's adaptation of the walking plan. Up to the top of Mt. Crumpet we went. Mt Subasio, I mean. It was quite the ride. Up, up, up, using switchback roads. As we got closer to the top, the road started to show considerable wear. Potholes doesn't really do justice to the holes we saw, and worse, experienced (and this doesn't have anything to do the reference to the sinkhole in the subtitle). Thankfully, Giorgio is an excellent driver.

From the top, we had an outstanding view of the entire area. And, it was a wee bit chilly. Hardly a cloud in the sky. Good thing we trusted Giorgio. Giorgio told us stories of climbing Mount Subasio with his father. He showed us around a bit and then sent us on our way. The plan was for Deedie and I to walk a relatively short distance, along the "CAI" (Club Alpino Italiano) where we would check with Giorgio, who drove his car further down the road.
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We met up again with Giorgio near a strange art installation that was supposedly representing the wind.
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Other tourists from Belgium were just as baffled, regarding the piece of art itself and as well its placement in such a barren place. Then, Giorgio accompanied us to the Giant Italian Sinkhole (and the smaller sinkhole next door).
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Deedie tried to tell Giorgio of my mortal terror of sinkholes, but something got lost in the translation (as has often been the case over the past few days). I would love to know what he told his wife about what we were trying to tell him.
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Giorgio set us off once again and we made a plan for meeting up once again a little further down the road. At about the 6.4 km mark, we met up with Giorgio. We put all of our stuff, and ourselves, in his car and we all drove to Collepino, to walk through the tiny, adorable little town and to have a light lunch together at a little snack bar.
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Giorgio then set us off once again to follow the "Roman Aqueduct" trail and we planned to meet at a fountain outside of Spello. We meandered down the trail through olive groves and fields, along with a ruin or two. Very lovely.
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Once again in Giorgio's Peujeot, we made our way to the Basilica. Trusty Giorgio hung onto most of our stuff, went home and told us to call him when we needed a ride back to our hotel. What a great guy!

On our way to the Basilica, we stopped for some delicious gelato and then off to the Basilica-- the lower church first, the tomb and then the upper church.
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And, now we are enjoying a spritz and an Assisi sunset and soon off to dinner. Ciao!
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Posted by ReisAdventures 16:40 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Italy, Day 10, Just Like Francis

Well, Maybe Not So Much

Via Francigena di San Franceso: Valfabbrica to Assisi
Distance: 8.7km
Elevation: Not sure, but mostly down . . . Until we got to Assisi, which is a hill town

We began the day with another delicious breakfast at the Palazzo Dragoni, shepherded through the breakfast buffet with our very lovely, but non-English, speaking helpers. I tried to figure out how to say "blackberry" in Italian. It didn't work. Alas. My breakfast focused on fruit, a couple of pieces that were difficult to identify. But delicious. And, then some fresh ricotta with honey-- comb attached. And, a nice cappuccino.

Our trusty driver, Giorgio was waiting for us at 9:00. We loaded up our things and he drove us to Valfabbrica. First, we stocked up on lunch items at a local small market (formaggio, pane, frutta and biscotti) and then Giorgio delivered us not quite to the trailhead, but to the 3.7km mark on the trail. The forecast called for rain in the afternoon, and possible thunderstorms, so we thought it best not to take on the full 12.4 km.

Our walk was mostly downhill, mostly gentle, except for a couple of steep parts, focused on the path that St. Francis took. The walk took on a dramatically different feel as we got closer to the Bosco di San Francesco, when the walk turned into much more of a climb. When we got through the woods, and finally arrived at the Basilica, we decided not to visit the grand basilica right away. We were tired, dirty, sweaty and stinky. Instead, we wandered through town trying to find our hotel, which turned out to be much further away than we imagined.

We enjoyed our own little fiesta, in our strange room that feels very "grotto-like" and then off we went to explore, take photos, visit churches, have a spritz, window shop, and find our restaurant for dinner, Ristorante I Monaci. Dinner consisted of a delicious pasta with burrata and pizzas and local red wine too. Very nice.

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Posted by ReisAdventures 19:53 Archived in Italy Tagged italy san saint assisi di francis via francesco francigena 2021 Comments (0)

Italy, Day 9, Monteluco to Spoleto

& An It's All Part of the Adventure Moment

Distance: 13 km, plus
Elevation: +900 ft/-2,200ft

Our day began with a delicious breakfast in the lovely breakfast room at the Palazzo Dragoni in Spoleto.
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We've discovered that every hotel handles breakfast differently, depending on their interpretation of Covid rules. Some still have the traditional buffet, but there's elaborate protective devices over the food. Other hotels have switched to ordering what you want, as in a restaurant. At the Palazzo Dragoni, each guest is accompanied by an "authorized" staff person, who conveniently speaks not a word of English. The "authorized" staff person ("authorized" according to the full page of instructions that are in our room) takes the guest around the table. The guest points at things that look good and then the authorized person puts in on a plate and then on a tray. Once back at the table, the authorized staff person kindly asks about the guest's coffee choice. "Cappuccino," of course, we respond, and then we wonder: can we ask for a double? We haven't yet asked for a double. But, we have asked for a second.

Today's breakfast, by the way, included homemade ricotta. I may not leave.

Our driver (someone other than George, who had the day off, or at least a day off from us!) came along before we were ready, but she was patient. Once we had packed our things for a big day on the trail, she drove us up, up, up a mountain and dropped us off in Monteluco, a large area of lush forest. "Monteluco" means "a sacred grove dedicated to Jupiter." The mountain's sacred history is long and includes a time when it became home to a colony of Christian religious hermits (primarily Syrian) who used the natural caves and grottoes as places of spiritual retreat and contemplation.

The area continued to be important to various Christians, especially monks of various orders, including Francis of Pavia, Bernardino of Siena, Bonaventure, and Anthony of Padova. The most famous of all religious sites on Monteluco is the Convento di San Francesco di Monteluco, the primitive convent established by Saint Francis in 1218 (one of his first) on the summit of the mountain.
[*Information provided by Country Walkers]

We organized ourselves and then checked out what we could check out at the top.
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Then, we began the long, slow descent, along the Via di Roma/Via Francigena di San Francesco. Some trails were flat. Some were gently descending. A few had serious erosion issues. And, in a couple of places we faced loose gravel. So, it was a mixed bag and some of it required care and slowness. But, it was a magnificent day-- sunny and not too hot on the mountain and in the woods.
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Around noon, and in a place with a nice view, we stopped for our new favorite lunch, trail pizza! We had almost an entire pizza left over from last night. We broke it up into pieces and kept it in our mini-fridge and then brought it with us on the hike. Yummy.
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And, then more descending, this time in a steep area with loose gravel. And, then more easy trails.
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Just when we could feel the end, we ran into a bit of a problem-- around the 11km mark. Were we reading the instructions incorrectly? Were the instructions themselves the problem? Was the closed section in front of us the problem? We have no idea, but we ended up walking down a large section of a regular road, with cars, motorcycles, and buses! A little scary. And, unpleasant.
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Finally, we made it back to the Market Square near the hotel and treated ourselves to gelato. I had ricotta with figs. Yummy and more yummy.

Back to the hotel for rest and cleaning up. And, then off to the Duomo Square for spritzes and then to dinner at Osteria del Matto near the Market Square, where we enjoyed course after course, as well as a little entertainment and then political conversation (not so entertaining) with the owner and the table next door.
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Posted by ReisAdventures 16:13 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Italy, Day 8, Hill Towns, Wine & the Footpath of the Furious

Monte Castello di Vibio to Pointe di Montemolino to Spoleto

sunny

Distance: 11km
Elevation: +200 ft/-750 ft

Our day began at Acquaghaccia Country House, where we enjoyed our last breakfast. George, our trusty driver came along just before 9:00, to pick us up and take us on the almost one hour drive to Monte Castello di Vibio, a small hill town. We enjoyed a short visit to the town, with George as our guide. We were able to see the outside of the Teatro della Concorde, a small theater with only 99 seats.

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Then George wished us well and promised to meet us later in the journey. And, off we went, meandering along gravel roads, through fields and groves, some shade and some sun.
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George met us just outside the town of Cecanibbi, a small hamlet, and then gave us a little tour of the tiny place. George then waved us so long once again and off we went, eventually joining the "Footpath of the Furious." The sign that offered information on the Footpath was, unfortunately, impossible to read. And, not because it was just in Italian. It looked like it had gone through a fire.
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We headed in the direction of Montemolino, and eventually met up with George once again. This time, we threw our stuff into his car and he drove us the short distance over the river to our big treat for the day: a light lunch and wine tasting at a small vineyard, Terramente Winery. We had a lovely outdoor lunch with delicious bruschetta, cheese, ham and salami. And three wines that they produce-- rose, Sangiovese, and syrah. All delicious, although both Deedie and I liked the Sangiovese the best.
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Then, George took us on a little drive through Umbria, including a vantage point that allowed a sweeping view of the area.
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Finally, he delivered us to Spoleto, where we will stay for the next two nights, at the lovely Palazzo Dragoni.
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We squeezed in a visit to the local Duomo and then wandered a bit through town. Since we have accumulated a couple of bottles of wine along the way, and we are quite tired, we decided to order a couple of pizzas to enjoy in our room.

Now it's off to bed, to be rested for another big day!

Posted by ReisAdventures 19:27 Archived in Italy Tagged italy 2021 Comments (0)

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