Trevi to SpoletoFebruary 6, 2020 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 5 °C
Saint Francis Way
Saint Francis Way
Saint Francis Way
Saint Francis Way
On the way to Spoleto we passed through the beautiful village of Fonte del Clitunno. From there it was the bikeway all the way to Spoleto. Hot walking on the Tarmac and yes, we got bamboozled on entering the city. Quickly corrected we reached our apartment. A quick shower and up the 30% incline to the Duomo, then the tourist office to learn we have to make a 2km detour as the footbridge is closed.
You can easily get lost in this city so we Sussex out the route for tomorrow and visited the Roman forum.
A pleasant meal the bedtime for an early start tomorrow.Read more
Out at 10am, heading further south-east into the hills. After an hour or so we crossed out of Tuscany and into Umbria, the hilly province of central Italy. Ironically, this actually wasn't too far from where we'd been a couple of weeks earlier with our previous car (Ravenna, Ancona etc).
First stop for the day was around midday in the town of Spoleto. Just outside town is a list entry for our second-longest running site visit - the Longobards of Italy. This world heritage "site" has multiple locations, some of which we'd visited back in early September 2017 in the north of Italy.
Here we visited a small church in the centre of a graveyard which had been standing since the 8th century. It was quite underwhelming, sadly, since you couldn't go inside (though we knew this in advance) after an earthquake had done some damage. The earthquake had been in 2012 but hey, nothing happens that quickly here.
Went into the town itself for lunch which was semi-interesting, though we've seen nicer Italian towns. I was a bit annoyed as well because clearly the town's marketing department had gotten the World Heritage site memo but missed the bit about it just being a tiny church a few kilometres outside town, as there was signage everywhere about how Spoleto is a world heritage town and all that sort of thing. A little frustrating, because it's blatantly not true! Alas.
Had lunch at another pizza slice place (these are literally everywhere and very popular), then headed on. Next stop was our final entry on the Longobard journey, a temple in the town of Clitunno. It had apparently been converted from a temple to Minerva in the 4th century, and then renovated with Longobard decorations in the 8th century. Definitely more interesting than the earlier spot, but still a little underwhelming. It's been a very esoteric site this one, since knowledge of the Longobard kingdom is fairly scant and disparate. Hopefully that doesn't come across too much in the video.
Drove another 45 minutes or so to our digs for the night just outside Assisi where for the first time yet we had a problem - we couldn't find it! It was the right street number, and matched the pin location between google maps and Airbnb, but we were standing in front of an apartment building which clearly looked nothing like what we'd booked. Called up the hosts who came to get us - we were only a hundred metres away from their driveway entrance, but I don't know why they haven't provided clearer instructions! Surely this would happen every time.
Oh well. Checked in to our little apartment - small but comfortable enough. Despite being on the edge of a small city (Assisi), the internet connection is really crappy and basically unusable. Thankfully the 3G reception is decent and we can both do tethering!Read more
Still further into the mountains we arrived at what was once a village. The map no longer lists this as a village because beggining in the 1930's families gave up their homes and moved away -- likely for economic reasons. The great grandfather of the current owner purchased the homes as they became available. Then again in the 1960's a second wave of migration occurred -- this time the youth was probably not willing to remain. This time the father of the current owner purchased each home that was available. Today they own the entire village. Each home came with some land so they own all the land around them and actively farm cattle, sheep, hay. In addition they offer the individual homes as rentals to tourists. They also happen to be on top of a location where truffles abound. This year being so dry was not a good year but we learned that in a good year they could expect to harvest 4-5 pounds of these pricey gems everyday during the two month season. Although the black truffles are not the most prized they still command $1500 per pound -- that's $7600 on a good day -- do the math...
They no longer use pigs to search for them. Pigs like to eat them which causes two problems 1) you can't get them back if the pig eats it and 2) they destroy the truffle's substrate. Several years ago a wild boat got not the fenced area and destroyed much of the collection area. So they use dogs instead. It was really something to walk around the property with the owner while he gently worked with his dogs. They were exceptionally well trained! As expected it was difficult to find anything but at one point one of the dogs came down out of the hills with her mouth closed -- no tongue hanging out -- and promptly dropped a black truffle into his out stretched hand. It was really something to experience these two old friends working togetherRead more
After the truffle hunt we gathered in the family's home for lunch. That's truffle spaghetti. They were serious about the wine informing us that the bottles had to be empty before we would be allowed to leave 🤗.
The older gentleman spoke at length of the family's traditions. As he finished he brought out home made cheese and walked around to each of individually and carved a thin slice for us to enjoy.
The whole family's pleasure at our visit was infectious-- we all had a great time! What a great way to finish our visit to Umbria.Read more
This is another of the mountain retreats established by St. Francis. Marney would like this one. To say it is peaceful is not enough. Even serene lacks something. It wasn't something you were looking at but rather something that enveloped you -- an experience of inner silence. Our group, normally boisterous, dispersed into small groups and spontaneously spoke in muted tones.
A special place.Read more
We are really lucky to be spending this part of the holiday with Stefano, Debbie and pocket rocket Ernie, and for Stefano to show us around his home town. We have learnt a lot about Stefano that we didn't know, seeing him on his home turf. For example.,he likes gelato. So much so that he (and Ernie) had four gelato each yesterday. Ernie has two speeds; stop and running. We have seen a lot of Stefano's back as he is always running after Ernie - maybe that's why he needs all that gelato.
We were lucky enough to walk out of our hotel straight into the weekend market. I was very happy. Graham not so much. He just handed over his wallet and walked away.
Stefano's parents had us over for an Italian feast. No one cooks like the Italians, do they. And to top off the fantastic food Ada (Stefano's mum) makes four different flavours of limoncello. It was really lovey meeting and spending some time with them. Even though we didn't speak the same language we worked it out.
Headed back to the piazza for some people watching (and probably more gelato for Stefano and Ernie). Everyone was so dressed up I was sure they were going to a wedding but apparently that's what they do - dress up and walk laps. We saw a lady all dressed up in a suit and incredibly high stilettos riding a pushbike. Something you don't see every day.
Met a few of Stefano's childhood friends and they are all characters. Ascoli is lovely and even though it has a population of around 50k it still feels like a small town. A small town with a lot of gelato stores and we have visited every one.Read more
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