Monday, April 25, 2011

Spoleto, Umbria and Aquaducts

Aprile 26 (this can get confusing when you are ahead 8-10 hours from Pacific Time)

This morning we decided to head for Spoleto, but with a bit of a twist; we are going through the mountains. Now when I say mountains, I don’t mean San Diego hills. I mean mountains. We found it fascinating that many gas stations here are called Auto Grills. Fascinating because they serve food in these establishments. Not American McDonald’s but actual freshly cooked foods from fresh veggies! They serve soups, pastas, sandwiches, turnovers to die for and fresh coffees. The service would make a fast food manager blanch. These people genuinely like to wait on people. At least, it appears that way and I have no doubt of it.

We detoured and drove around Lago Trasimeno which is obviously a vacation spot as the town was full of families and teens. Excursion boats were pulling out to tour the lake and it’s castles…Castiologne Lago and Cassel Rigone. Finding parking in any of these areas is difficult if not impossible and we decided to continue on to Spoleto.

We arrived in Spoleto to find another bunch of castles and churches (imagine that!). We also discovered that stream fishing is very popular here. Diana made it a point to let me know that she had tried to persuade me to bring our fly rods. (yada, yada, yada). The local restaurants advertise local tratte (trout and fillette salmon). I don’t know why but I found the existence of obviously old fish hatcheries a bit “out of place” even though they have obviously here for a long time.

On the way home, an RV was traveling about 30 mph and holding up traffic for miles. I mean 50 cars were backed up and (Italian style) horns were honking. Mountain roads, slow RV’s and Italian drivers do not mix. (I think at least 20 Italians went home and had to have massive attitude adjustments.)

Spoleto is a beautiful medieval town with a gracefully built fortified town square and incredible artifacts. When did these people have time to create the Renaissance? I mean imagine a complete town built of stone and brick, walls some 10 feet thick perched on a mountain top and about a mile square. Then add in living accommodations, churches and shop facilities and you have a close approximation of what went into building these. These things must have taken 30 or 40 years to build not to mention the resources and manpower.

Now something I never dreamed I would experience let alone walk on is one of the Roman aqueducts. This one spanned a quarter mile or more across an 800 foot chasm. Along side this is part of the Appian Way. I actually got acrophobia walking on this thing. It is a marvel of engineering and is still used by real humans! We walked half way across before I gave up. The engineering of this stretching from one mountain to another in Spoleto. This is absolutely mind boggling.

We then drove back to Perrugia and home stopping on the way for dinner in a local Ristorante. We had bruschetti with anchovies and Samorza cheese. Secondi was Tuscan style spaghetti and finished off with (yes, you guessed it, cappucino and caffe). Diana’s cappucino threw the waitress for a loop since Italians never have cappucino for dinner. The waitress even apologized and offered it free if it wasn’t acceptable. After all, she is a dinner waitress and not a morning caffe person. (Diana accepted a caffe machiatto). These folks even when bad can’t make bad coffee…even when it is bad!

By the way Brian, so far we haven’t found a single cannoli. For all the Tuscan love of pastries, not a cannoli to be found. Must be a Sicilian thing. Hmmm. La cosa Siciliana?

We are now home and tomorrow will try (again) to find internet service…

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