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  • Day10


    September 12, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We started in Collepino -- it seems every hill top has a small village from the Middle Ages. Of course the ones we see have all been restored. Everything is spotless.

    The walk followed the ancient route of the aqueduct that supplied Spello. Along the way we walked through olive groves. These are amazing trees. They grow without irrigation -- even this Summer which was both hot and extremely dry. The trees live for centuries -- the oldest in Umbria is from the 1700's. But they need to be pruned every year if they are to produce enough olives for oil production.Read more

    Barbara Beach

    It may be a bedroom community but oh, what a wonderful place to live - looks calm, peaceful, and on top of a hill!

    Barbara Beach

    Looks like it dried up and you are getting some walking in the countryside done!

    Barbara Beach

    The kids look great!

    Mindy Richardson

    Now THAT's a scenic walk! Love the photo of the two of you!

  • Day8

    And then the heavens opened and . . .

    September 10, 2017 ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    It RAINED! It has not rained in Umbria since late May. Today that streak came to an end. Our hosts had the good sense to cancel the three hour walk portion of the plan. We did connect with several hilltop towns and learned about olive oil production and the medieval paper making process.

    Our first hill top village was Gualdo Cattaneo -- Mary found the town photo on the web -- when we arrived it was merged with a cloud and it was pouring down. We initially took refuge in a church. Here you see all of us looking pretty pathetic listening to an interesting lecture

    The round tower(s) are from 1492. We got to explore the main tower extensively. This was the high-tech development of its day. The round shape and 12 feet thick rock walls were designed to withstand the emerging war technology of the cannon.

    We were supposed to take a stroll through olive orchards but there was forked lightening happening around the hill so it did not seem prudent to walk with metal umbrellas over our heads -- Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

    So we got on the bus and drove down to an olive oil facility. Main takeaway here was the fact that this product is manipulated by the industry. From what we learned it is likely that the "olive oil" we get in the states is "at best" a mixture of various cooking oils. At worst it can be 10% olive oil and 90% petroleum. Makes me wonder what we are actually getting at Costco.

    After another spectacular meal we bussed to Bevagna and learned about the paper making process using medieval technology. Mary was called into action when this watery mixture was placed in a frame and transferred to a stack in preparation for pressing to remove the water. Bad photo because it was pretty dark -- that's Mary with the white hat like thingy on her head.

    I had made rash predictions about the weather and was publicly humiliated to the great satisfaction / enjoyment of the group.
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    Devra Freedman


    Barbara Beach

    Sorry about the rain but sounds like you had a great day, anyway. Great photo of the town even if you didn't take it...looks like a wonderful place to explore. What types of food are you eating now?

    Barbara Beach

    Love your hat, Mary! Hope you will teach me to make paper when you get back to Tucson!

    2 more comments
  • Day69

    Wining and Dining

    November 11, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 7 °C

    Slow start on Friday - no breakfast stuff at accomodation so just had fruit and coffee. Made it out to lunch at La Cantina - a very nice restaurant in the centre of town.

    Started with liver pate, toasted ciabatta and a bottle of delicious red wine. Followed by spaghetti with broccoli truffle and bacon, and mixed grilled meat, with spinach on the side. Really good. Dessert was a chocolate panna cotta (OK) and coffee. We were a little tipsy after lunch.

    Checked out a couple of cute stores, then headed back home and chilled out. Was nice to relax.

    Also did very little Saturday. Drank more wine. Ate some good pizza and battered squid/prawns for dinner. Read books and watched movies. Wade played some piano (Coldplay - Clocks). That was about it.
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  • Day67

    So Long Rome.... Hello Spello!

    November 9, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Checked out and stored half our luggage. Walked around and had a forgettable espresso. Saw the Piazza Navona. Looked at Christmas shops but nothing amazing - disappointing Christmas game Rome (though not so disappointing as Paris)! Browsed more shops.

    Then sandwiches and wine from Pane e Salame for lunch (thanks to Trent and Renee for the recommendation). Turns out that its number 1 rank on TripAdvisor was warranted - was delicious! Porchetta (roast pork) and salami with eggplant and smoked cheese, yum. Plus, they had Coldplay songs on - perfect.

    For dessert some gelato from Venchi - yum. And then back to our luggage. Took a wrong turn and stumbled across a place that had a few Christmas ornaments. Found a handpainted bauble made in Pashmir with 12 layers of lacquer (not handmade in Italy but was prettier than the others we had seen in Rome).

    Then on the train to Spello! Side note: Spello is definitely a different place from the much instagrammed Spoleto. A fact we'd had to clarify after pretty much everyone we spoke to about going to Spello thought we meant Spoleto. And then asked why when he confirmed we meant Spello. Our response? It looked cute and small.

    Train to Spello was 2 hours or so - went through a lot of tunnels which kept making our ears pop? Was odd but fine.

    Spello is a super cute little mountainside village on the train route between Rome and Florence. Has about 6,000 people.

    Our host didn't speak much English but he picked us up and drove us to the accommodation through tiny streets. Basically the width of a car which is slightly unnerving. Outside our place the road widens to almost two cars, so they call it a square instead of a road...

    Haven't seen much of the town but looking forward to exploring for the next 3 days. Went out for dinner to a recommended restaurant and was delicious. Thick spaghetti with truffle, bread, red wine, veal stew in wine sauce, grilled zucchini, tomato and eggplant, some other green vegetable and lots of olive oil. Followed by tiramisù and souffle (Wade now understands that souffle is not creme brulee...). Was very good.
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  • Day7

    Rome --> Foligno

    September 9, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    Busy day -- We successfully met our group of 20 at the airport and took a bus to Foligno. With a single exception we are all retired. I was used to the vibe in Rome but was surprised how much different it was in Foligno. The town is in the midst of a month long festival similar to the Palio in Siene. Flags indicating different neighborhoods line every street. We walked around town to take on the sights. Much of the central core is a walking zone and at midday there was plenty of people watching to do.

    The shops are so classy -- Mary started collecting photos of clothing to share with her nieces. I like to glasses!

    At one point we happened upon an event where young boys were sitting on ponies practicing with a spear. The competition between neighborhoods features riding around an oval track with a spear trying to pass the spear through various rings. I captured the moment this young man captured a ring on his spear. Of course the task gets more difficult as you are expected to do this at a full gallop and the rings get smaller in diameter as you progress around the arena. We won't be here for the event but apparently this is one of the biggest events for this region in the entire year.
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  • Day31

    Calamita Cosmica, Foligno

    September 29, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We hit the road this morning after a fabulous stay in our B&B, Il Bivacco Frasassi, and made our way to Foligno. After a couple of wrong turns as there are heaps of road works going on and we can’t read the road signs, we finally arrived to check out the Calamita Cosmica. This is a contemporary sculpture made in secret in 1988 and preserved in the former church of the Holy Trinity in Annunziata. It is a 24m long human skeleton, precise in anatomy, with the addition of a large nose or birds beak, and a huge pencil piercing a finger. Very random.

    It originally toured the country appearing in town squares overnight. The size of it is unbelievable and it was the only thing in the church as it took up the whole ground floor.

    I loved it for its whackiness and thought it was a cool pitstop on our way to our next location.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Foligno, フォリーニョ, Фолиньо