Friday, May 13, 2011

Hanging on the Cliffs of the Amalfi coast

Diana went to the store this morning about 7:00 a.m. to shop for essentials. This is long before I awoke. She had her cappucino and got her shopping done and managed to come home with eggs and pizza. The kind and generous lady at the store gave them to her no charge. They are so sweet.

After breakfast, we drove into ValleGrande for (you guessed it, cappucino and caffe) and discussed the days outing with our new local friend.

Around 10:00 we headed for Salerno about two hours away. This area is so totally different from what we are used to. The urban sprawl and poverty is incredible. It reminds us of Tijuana. In fact, at the ticket gate for the A1 Autostrade there were two guys selling whatever at the ticket gate. Peggy, we would have cried laughing. It was just like TJ when we came back from Encinada.

We arrived in Salerno around noonish and were not impressed. My Dad used to come here in the maritime and he was not impressed in the 50’s. I am not impressed in the 2011’s. Bologna and Florence's overcrowding is pale by comparison.

Diana, trooper that she is, drove down the coast to Amalfi. (I was opting for going back to the casa).

Oh my god! Bond. James Bond. This is simply straight out of a James Bond movie!

We stopped for lunch at a ristorante, Torne Normanna, that is built from a castle in the sea off the Amalfi Coast.(yes, to the left is a picture of the restaurant) The view is breathtaking. We are off the Amalfi coast and it is easy to see why the jet setters come here. Allora. The view is stunning. While we only had secondi and wine, lunch was 89 Euro. But, the service, food and view was well worth it. If you come to Italy and miss the Amalfi coast,then you miss it all.

The food was outstanding. The service was completely perfect. The waiters are dressed in silk coats and very attentive. The view is …well, breathtaking. The Amalfi coast is what one would expect of Italy, You have to come here! Where is Auric Goldfinger?

This is incredible. We stopped for the night at a local hotel (Grand Hotel Tritone) and I am writing from a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean in a hotel hewn from the rock cliffs. The sea is so blue it defies description. We are overlooking the town cliffs of the Amalfi and all we can hear is birds, waves and a few cars passing on the cliffs.

The hotel seems an outgrowth of the rock cliffs. We had to descend to the hotel lobby via elevator about 100 feet and then descend two more floors through the rock and traverse hallways that seem to be caves in the walls of the mountain to our room. All the while the church bells chime in the distance about two miles across the sea. This is really hard to believe.

We had a few glasses of wine on the terrace while Diana shot two cards of photos of the incredibly pink and grey clouds over the Med. It just got better and better. Oh my Lord. If this is Italy, I’ll take it. (Brian. Still no cannollis). But, the food, atmosphere and sounds are beautiful. I am so happy to be able to spend time on such a beautiful seascape with my best friend, Diana. This place will make you fall in love all over again.

Below us (about 1,000 feet) is a 3 masted schooner and a cruise ship. One can feel the myths rise from the sea. I can understand (Harold and Joanie) how the sea grabbed your life. This is beyond description. We are on the terrace watching the clouds disappear in the night as the sun drops discussing Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon and the great men of history. We are wondering how and what made them do it. We are also wondering what separated the benevolent dictators of history from the sociopaths that have plaqued history.

We are about a thousand feet above the Med’ just north of the little town of Praiano. I do not have any idea how these people built these homes on this desolate rock. But, we can gear the sounds of a church bell sounding time and the music of a disco. Now imagine the chimes of the church bells from the duomo 2 miles across the Med’ and KC and the Sunshine Band. What a mix. There isn’t a parking place to be had; a lot to build on; a silent place to move, but they live here on these rocks and thrive.

As we gaze out on the Med’ all I can think of is that no one can take this from us. No one can steal this memory. No one can steal this from our hearts and this is a life changing experience. I have been so fortunate to have my sweetheart Diana to share all of this with and I cannot ever tell how much this journey has meant to me.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vacation from vacation.....


We crashed today. We slept in and generally just relaxed. Diana has been driving this entire trip and she is pooped. Me too.

About 6:00 p.m. we decided to go into ValleGrande (the town just below) and look around some more. On the advice of Alan we stopped in at Floyd’s Ristorante. Floyd is a Scots transplant and speaks English as well as Italian. He owns the local bar which sports a complete menu of English dishes from hamburgers to fish and chips.

Considering that we haven’t had any real hardcore food since we arrived, we split a fish and chips and hamburger with patatine (fries). We couldn’t finish them but damn they were good. No pork tonight.

Not only does Floyd serve Angle food, but he has a dart board. Now Diana and I love darts so much that we have professional darts that cost us about $75.00. (We don’t shoot any better but we feel like we do). We have shot darts since Sacramento and, upon moving to San Diego, we haven’t found but one place with a dart board. Imagine. We had to travel 13,000 miles to find a dart board! And did we shoot darts.

We have also been blessed with a wonderful couple at the local food store/bar/tratorria that take care of us with a graciousness that defies explanation. Rosella gave us eggs from her own home (located across the street) because they had run out at the store and didn't even charge for them. We must have looked hungry so she also gave us two huge slices of her homemade pizza!

We are heading out to Amalfi tomorrow.

Buono Notte.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Casa Bella Vista

Allora. We awoke this morning ready for our trip to Atina. We headed for (what else) coffee at a local bar. We then hit the Bancomat for some cash. We went back to check out of the hotel and lo and behold, we found my reading glasses right where we had looked the night before. Leprechauns. There is some serious stuff going on here.

As we drove about 10 minutes out of town into the Italian National Park, I realized that we had forgotten our passports! Yikes. The Leprechauns struck again! Something seriously amiss in this hotel.

We drove deeper into the national forest, we were again struck by the seemingly unending expanse of mountains, snow and trees. Land of superlatives!

We moved on into Ortona dei Marsi, a steep cliff of a town. Again there is no way to describe these towns. They are breathtaking. We then decided it was lunch time. I can’t do these Italian breaksfasts! Justice, my daughter, always warned waitresses “Please don’t mess up my Daddy’s breakfast. It will ruin his (read “our”) day. Well, sweetie, they do and it doesn’t.

We ascended and descended the mountains. It is so high in these spots that it causes vertigo. I am serious. These people had to be mountain goats. The town is Cocullo. How do they do this? I got dizzy just photographing it. It is literally hanging on the mountainside.
Just parking the Fiat is a dangerous proposition.

We had lunch on the Lago d‘ Scanno. It’s a beautiful little lake resort and possibly the most elegant little restaurant of our Italian tour. The service isn’t great but the ambience is brilliant and the food above average.

We arrived at the Casa Bella Vista at about 6:00 p.m. and Diana is dead tired. She has driven every hour and day of the trip with nary a complaint.

I must tell you that Alan and his wife Carole (our gracious hosts) have outdone themselves. The house has indeed a “beautiful view.” The appointments are first rate and the rooms are huge. This is indeed a great way to finish our Italian holiday. They have obviously put a huge amount of work and love into this place and are justly proud of their home.

By the way (and this is important) the shower would fit 6 people unlike every European shower we have experienced so far. This is heaven. Thank you Alan and Carole.

Alan called and gave us a brief history of the place. It seems that the Italians in the 1600’s used this as an outpost for attacking Greeks across the Aegean. The tower was used as a lookout and when the Greeks attacked the Italians lighted warning fires here.

I can tell you that the casa is something no one should miss. It is beautiful. If you come to Atina (just east of Rome about an hour) you must make time to stay here. Of course, by the time we managed to get unpacked it was 7:00 p.m. We needed supplies for morning so we shopped (kind of) at a local store and the people were, as usual, just as nice as you can imagine.

I can tell you, we bought the last 6 eggs in the place. Eggs for breakfast! Hurray. No sweets! No sweets!

So we are now sitting on the terrace enjoying the sunset and a view to die for. We are overlooking the valley toward Antina.(pictures will follow)
It’s a tiny bit chilly, but still no way to dampen our spirits. We keep looking at each other and saying “Hey, We’re still in Italy.” Another week and we head home, but this is an incredibly exciting trip.
Now for some technical stuff for those of you deciding to tour Italy.
We decided to purchase a Toshiba netbook as our laptops are too bulky to take with us. I bought the best they offer. When we first purchased it, it made 157 updates. (Yes. I am serious). It has crashed more times than I can count and it is the most frustrating piece of crap I have ever purchased. It has gotten us by for downloading but I would never recommend a Toshiba netbook to anyone.
I am not familiar with the other brands, but this one sucks. It works for downloading our files and writing the blog. (barely)

Google announced their netbook today and my guess is, it is more reliable. If you need a netbook look around first. (Understand that we use Toshiba’s for our daily work, but the netbooks are pure close to useless garbage.)

I also bought an Ectaco Italian translator to help with (duh) translation while here. It was an expensive ($379.00) “dictionary” that works when it feels like it. It is a pain to use and the teaching section is useless other than single words. I much prefer talking to the Italians we have met to learn Italian. It barely translates when needed and is certainly not the unit I expected. Please consult an Ectaco owner before buying. (Could just be me). It advertises speech translation which it really does not do. It has been in our glove box since the beginning of the trip. For single word translation, it works fairly well. The only Mechanical thing that has worked for us so far has been the Fiat….go figure….

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Leaving the Adriatic

The hostelier apologized this morning for the weather. It is still unsettled. (That is a definite euphemism as the Adriatic is rearing her angrier side). We had breakfast at the Il Pinquino. Breakfast consisted of several cappuchino’s (noticing a pattern here?) and caffe Americano’s. We passed on the croissants on sweet rolls. (We will return for gelatos later).

We inched back to the hotel to download the previous days shooting and videos. We feel a bit naked without PhotoShop but we have so much raw material for our upcoming exhibit in LA with Peter Max and Kornel Schorle. We also have made many friends here that we hope to see again sometime soon. (Oh, Brian. No cannolli’s here either. Carla says the best cannolli’s are in Sicily).

OK. (By the way, “OK” is universal lingo. Everybody says OK. Another catch phrase used as much as OK is “allora.” It’s used everywhere and means, loosely translated “OK.” Go figure.) We headed for the Gran Sasso this morning having no clue what it looks like. Of course, it took 3 hours to drive 15 kilometers. Well, maybe not 15 but we seemed to be going in huge circles trying to find our way to a huge mountain staring us in the face.
We finally found a sign that pointed to Pietracamela and we took it (or more correctly…them) and ended up driving into the most incredible views you can imagine. (Have you noticed that hyperboles really seem to permeate my description(s) of Italy? This really is an incredible landscape. The Gran Sasso looks like the Matterhorn and is part of the Italian National Park System.
We drove (and drove) up switchbacks to a tiny village and were awestruck by the scenery and the little town that presented itself at the end of our journey. (I still have no idea what a Pietracamela is, but it looks suspiciously like a llama with horns. We didn’t see any, by the way).

This tiny town is, like most Italian towns, perched atop a mountain. (How did they get these towns up here?) Allora. The little town is a ski mecca for Italians and Germans. Of course, since they get very few Americans (make that two this spring…Diana and myself) they speak no…I mean NO English. Sign language comes in very handy. So, if you are of Italian extraction, that presents no problem. It’s genetic.

We photographed the town and I, of course, got waylaid by a local. (Do I look Italian?)
He began to explain to me the disaster that overcame the village in 1935.…huge avalanches and rocks destroying the town. I, of course, just kept nodding and saying “Io capito.”

Since his ristorante was the only one open for lunch (it was, after all, 2:00) we were invited in and had a wonderful lunch of lamb, veggies!, and the ever present cappuchino.
The local wine (rossa della casa) was thick as blood, fragrant and just perfect. It appears that the locals do not produce enough grapes to bottle the wine so the merchants buy the wines and serve them in their ristorantes. Bella!

We would definitely suggest trying out the local fare here presented by the Matucci(?) Brothers who own the restaurant. They are very picky. The one brother who waited on us spent much time inspecting the water and wine glasses, making sure the table cloths were just so and the chairs placed perfectly. The restaurant is a gem and must be tried. Allora.

We drove from there to L’Aquila. This is the town that was devastated in 2009 by a 5.8 earthquake and left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. It is still undergoing renovation and the after effects are still apparent. Buildings are being reconstructed, homes show huge cracks and holes yet the people seem very resilient. Diana wanted to stay here the night, but (wimp that I am) I opted for Pescina…a bit out of the earthquake zone. (Allora. We live in California, but earthquakes make me nervous).

Tonight we are in a hotel on the edge of Pescina. They are still recovering from the 2009 quake, but the hotel has soft beds, a beautiful little dining room, great food and clear view of the valley from our room. (The shower is, as usual, a typical, Italian [read tiny] stall. It is, I swear, 18” x 18”! I am hoping the casa in Antina has a nice shower considering it is owned by an English couple.

While on the subject, Alan (our casa host in Antina) called yesterday and e-mailed this a.m. giving us some helpful insights into the area in which we will be staying. That included; who speaks English, which restaurants to visit and various places not to miss. He has been a very helpful and courteous host so far. We look forward to the casa.

Allora. Somewhere between the hotel front desk and the room, I lost my reading glasses. We have scoured high and low for them to no avail. Tomorrow I will have to track down a new pair. We also lost our charger for the European cell phone.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Milano Mare on the Adriatic Sea

We followed Carla for the hour drive to the Adriatic seaside in a beautiful resort town of Milano Mare. We walked the beaches for a while and stopped for lunch in Ristorante.
It was very relaxing and so much fun just to relax.

After saying our short goodbyes (we all were a bit teary eyed), Diana and I headed down the Adriatic coast toward Pascara where we will head inland for our Casa situated inland between Rome and Naples at the edge of an Italian National Park. This will be our final destination before leaving this beautiful country. The coastal area here is so beautiful we decided to spend a night at one of the hotels in the resort area of San Benedetto del Trento.

It is off season here, but the place is filled with people walking the strands and enjoying the beautiful weather and sea breeze. We can now say we have stayed on the Mediterranean and the Adriatic!
We are staying the night at the Hotel Mocambo and the room rate is 60.00 Euro! While the room is small (European style) it is definitely the best hotel we have stayed in on our visit and one we highly recommend. Not only is the staff very nice and courteous, but the room is comfortable and well appointed. Unlike every bed we have slept in in Italy this one is actually soft and comfy. I swear a mattress company and chiropractor could make a fortune here. (Not a complaint, just saying).

The Mocambo is so nice, Diana wants to stay an extra day or so. Alan, our host for the Casa near Atina called to let us know that the casa will not be available early so the extra 3 days here is perfectly timed.

We sat at an outdoor table on the Adriatic and had dinner at a little ristorante (The Americano) staring at the sea and the breakers while rowers and beachcombers passed the horizon about 100 yards from our table. I thought to myself how some of the grains of sand may have been here when Ulysses sailed his way home from the Trojan wars. It isn’t hard to imagine since this land is steeped in so much history and mythology. Only a few hundred kilometers to the east across the Adriatic is Yugoslavia (now Croatia and Serbia). Bella Italia!

Our dinner was not tipici Umbrian. I have stared at and eaten enough pork that we had filet mignon, salad, patatine (French fries) and our appetizer has to be sampled to be believed. They were lightly breaded olives, stuffed with a spiced hamburger and deep fried. I know. I couldn’t believe it either, but these things are awesome! It is a local specialty and they would certainly be a hit in the U.S.! (Remind me to tell my restaurant friends, John and Lisa Mangini, in the states. I have never tasted anything like these.

The breeze kicked up about 7:00 p.m.. Make that a hurricane. When the sun drops the wind comes in and blows like you cannot imagine. It literally blew us back to our room for shelter. What a land of dichotomies. Calm and serene. Blustery and rainy in a moment.

Tomorrow is another day of exploration.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Round-a-bout Bologna

Bologna is much like most large Italian cities…..busy with little parking. It took us several more hours than we planned to get here (Incidenti on the A1...of course).

Believe it or not, everything and everybody is moving in this photograph and everybody seems to understand where the other is going.... traffic is very frenetic at the least!

We found our hotel, the Atlantic, on one of the many side streets in Bologna. Parking is a huge problem and at the hotel we had to purchase a ticket for parking (within the blue areas). We did manage to find one right in front of the hotel. (The Fiat is staying there until we check out!) We dare not move.

Carla’s lab is an amazing bustle of people. She does live cell of course, but also allergies. We have had an amazing three days so far discussing our individual approaches to health.
We have had lunch and dinners at several wonderful little trattorias.

Last night we had dinner at the oldest trattoria in Bologna. We finished dinner off with a gelato and walked through a shopping mall filled with Gucci, Vuitton, Fermi, etc. (A purse here averages 1200 Euro! Yikes.) We had dinner with Carla’s accountant who confirmed that Italy is in financial trouble since the Euro. Tax rates here are over 60%. Add to that the bureaucracy of permits, licensing and a plethora of other charges, it is no wonder this country is in trouble.

Another problem seems to be the decrease in tourism dollars and the Euro problems as well as outsourcing with which no Italian can compete. A car that costs about $20,000 in the States is over $35,000 here! We may have problems in the U.S., but it is nothing compared to Italy.

The city is a maze of porticos and churches. We climbed one cathedral of 999 steps only to find it closed. Whew! The view overlooking the city will take your breath away. Trust me, after 999 steps, you have no breath! The difficulty taking photos here is that you have to drive to so many places due to the sheer size of Bologna and we are not driving and losing our parking place!

Today is a general strike in Italy preceding upcoming elections so all public services are shut down. We are going into the streets to shoot. We are having dinner again with Carla after working in her lab today. We’ll report later.

Today, we met with several of Carla’s staff and doctors. One gentleman in particular, a doctor of urology Dr. Daniele Grassi, was a particular joy to meet. It is always a breath of fresh air to meet an M.D. who truly cares about his patients and does not refuse to believe what is front of him. In many ways, Daniele reminds me of my good friend, Dr. McClelland, in San Diego in that he actually thinks out of the box. It is so refreshing to have a conversation with open minded and intellectually hungry medical doctors.

We spent many hours sharing information on our independent research and worked out a brief outline of our proposed joint book re: parasites and their importance in chronic illnesses. This is going to be fun…and important. We plan on writing two versions; one for the lay person and one for doctors.

Carla gave us a card for her write in as a candidate for office in Italy. We began calling her Il Duce Marzetti. She thinks she may get 10 votes. Too funny. But, given Italy’s low usage of the internet per person, (they are a good 10 years behind us) the individual power exerted by the information explosion will eventually be found and Italy will (in my opinion) take a huge leap forward in their political issues.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Mediterranean

Wednesday, May 2
Today we decided it was time to take a “side trip” to the coast of Italy. We drove southwest to Orbetello, a roughly 4 hour trip. I must tell you that as we are used to the rolling landscapes and ancient architecture of middle Tuscany, the fishing and beach towns of this particular part of Umbria was unimpressive.

We took many side roads ended up in Urbatello and then decided to head north to Livorno just south of Pisa. Since we had pretty well expended our day, we decided to find a hotel for the night.

We just happened upon Romito a hotel and Ristorante literally on the cliffs over the Mediterranean. Our room was 70 Euro for the night and you can hear the sea from our open window.

Out the window, through the evening haze we can see the island of Capraia and barely make
out Corsica in the distance.

We arrived at 6:00 and dinner, of course, is not until 7:00. Diana is getting her caffee withdrawals again. Another hour with no cappucino and she may be unbearable.

We had a wonderful waitress and we ate fried Gembari (shrimp), insalata, with wine from Rossa della casa (Rossa Toscana). And finished off with a variety of desserts. They do not fry as we do in the states. They sauté with a light bit of spices. Mama mia! It was so good.

We checked with the concierge about check out time. His answer? “After nine.” Hmmm. Not by nine or 12, but after 9. That’s handy. Considering that we are probably the only guests in the hotel may have had something to do with it.

We went to our room and stood side by side staring out the wide open window onto the Mediterranean Sea. We watched as the small waves lapped at the rocky coast and marveled that we were actually here. We are on the Med’!

Ok. I have a complaint. The shower, like the shower in Fiorentino, is barely big enough (make that teensy enough) to turn around in. You actually have more room on the bidet to shower than the shower. But, after that drive, we didn’t much care. We fell asleep with the sound of the Med’ singing us to sleep.

Ok. Make that two complaints. Proscuito, ginghali, salami, lardo, no matter what you call it, it is still pig! If I have to eat another pancini with ham and cheese for breakfast, I’m going to scream. Can I get one meal with a veggie and maybe even two?! You can’t get eggs at the ristorante here either!

We found out why we did not have to check out until at least 9:00 am, there was nobody there!! Diana was getting a serious caffeine withdrawal fit after being up from 7:30 am but finally at 9am we were allowed into the Ristorante, our breakfast was included: A café and a packaged "donut-like” sweet cake. Hmmm and somewhere along the way the taste of the café had changed. We were not impressed. But……we can now say we slept on the Mediterranean.

Tuesday, May 3

We are heading to Pisa, perhaps 25 kilometers north of here. But after Diana noticed a beautiful painting of Livorno on one of the walls of the ristorante we wanted to go there first. Well, after 45 minutes of trying to drive the 5 kilometers to Livorno and asking everyone how to get to Livorno, we gave up on that one. By now, all we cared about was getting to Pisa.

Roads are well marked but difficult to understand. We tried following the signs “Pisa” and “Centro” then we found a sign directing us to “Torre di Pendente” which then totally disappeared. We later found a sign that read GalileiGallileo. Pisa was not an easy trip since the markings for the tower just seemed to keep changing. “Uh-oh. Turn here,...No turn there.... It said left. But this one said right....” . It literally took us 45 minutes to drive 5 kilometers! Not including all the back-tracking.

After finding parking for the torre di pendante, we walked barely 200 circuitous yards and We were stunned by what confronted us. First, I (Hugh) always thought it was just the tower (as if that isn’t enough). But, there is an entire Basilica and church inside the ancient walls. It was less busy than I expected and we were pleasantly surprised at how light the traffic was.

The tower is again, stunning. It is (in my mind) overshadowed by the Basilica. And again, it is another beautiful example of Renaissance architecture. Not only does one see the huge granite and lime structure and carvings, but the large carved bronze doors. I am judging these doors to be at 40 feet tall. The columns, carvings and building methods just take your breath away.

The light was nearly perfect. Diana has been shooting HDR (High Dynamic Range) for nearly the whole trip and rightly so. We have really only had a few perfect days of light. This particular day, the light was matching the contrast of the tower and Basilica. It really has taken us several days just to get used to the light. This day, I think we have probably outdone ourselves.

By two o’clock, we decided to head back to Fiorentino since tonight is our last night in the Castilion before setting out for Bologna. As we made our way inland, we of course had to stop for Diana’s Cappachino fix. We found the café getting better as we got closer to home. Hooray! I got my Diana back!

Tomorrow we meet and spend time with Dr. Marzetti to discuss our mutual project. Carla has the same passion for parasitic infections as we do and we hope to break some new ground together and publish our research.

Carla’s English has improved far more than my Italian! When we last met, neither of us could communicate very well except through our research. Now we can really rock and roll and collaborate for real. I am so looking forward to making some serious inroads into modern perceptions of disease causing agents.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Let's just go take a quick look

We planned on heading to the west coast today, but on the way we saw yet another city built upon a huge mountain with impressive walls.“You want to give a look?” Diana asked.“Sure. Let’s take a quick look.”
What a find this turned out to be!

We drove around the city on the winding roads to discover that the city walls are cut out of the natural rock and here and there, man made walls have been added to the fortification. It’s almost a natural outgrowth of the natural rock extending some 300 to 500 feet straight up to the city itself. It’s hard to imagine that this fortress was ever conquered.

We emerged at one of the community parks and took a nice walk through it while marveling at the panoramic views from the top. It must be nearly 1,000 feet to the terrain below.

We walked about a mile to the town center with a beautiful cathedral standing dead center in an ancient piazza. Now I would never tell anyone not to visit Florence, but this is Florence in miniature with all of the modern shops and amenities without the crowds. Yes, there are people, but we had so much room to roam so that we did just that.

We naturally stopped for the required cappuccino and caffee Americano at a patio bar that had a splendid view of the Cathedral and just drank in the entire Duomo.

The cathedral is every bit as beautiful as the one we saw in Florence with gold leaf adorning the outside and zebra striped granite on the sides. We spent a good hour just gazing and shooting before exploring more of the town.

The shops and cafes were better I might add than anything we saw in Florence. In all fairness, we spent so little time in Florence due to the crowds that it might not be a fair comparison, but if you visit Italy, this Umbrian town is by far a better visit in our opinion,
I am still amazed at the sophistication of the fashion in these small towns. There is a level of sophistication in the cafes, shops and local craftsmen that boggles the mind.

The olive wood chess sets, cutting boards, etc. will knock you off your feet.

I had the pleasure of being sought out by an apparent inhabitant of this beautiful city on a mountain. The friendly Italian explained to me (in Italian) how the Cathedral was designed to be seen with a 360 degree view and that the arches were built for support. I nodded and smiled at him and at appropriate intervals assured him “capisco” (I understand)

We finally decided that we had better start home around 5:00 p.m. Fiorentino is an hour and half drive and the 6 hours we spent in Orvieto wore us out.
Diana remarked that “I have finally seen Italy.” I agreed. Orvieto is what I envisioned Italy is like.
Of course, we haven’t seen but a small portion of Tuscany and Umbria, but I doubt that much will cap this visit. Tomorrow, we will try again for the coast, nearly two hours away. Wednesday we pull up stakes and head for Bologna and a week there.
What a day of exploration this was!