Published: August 23rd 2012August 13th 2012
The next three days are looking pretty hectic so today was a rest day. Its nice to have a day to enjoy the scenery around us, to catch up on the jobs that need to be done - laundry, and to read. We spent most of the morning doing all of the above as well as the occasional swim and plenty of sunbathing. The weather here is really quite bearable after Rhodes and Athens, especially if you can jump in the pool whenever you are a bit too warm. There are three villas here all of which share the pool and for the first time today everyone was using the loungers, which meant there weren't enough to go around. It was very unusual for everyone to have chosen the same day to stay at home.
After a spot of lunch, Harriet and Toby were ready for gelato. The nearest town is Umbertide. It's about 10 km away and has several shops. It has a very pretty historic centre and a large urban sprawl. We had visited one gelato store there after doing the supermarket shopping but had noticed a couple of others. Fiona wasn't keen on either gelato or a
ride in the car, so they went without her. They found 2 more gelato shops to try and also had a coffee- all of which were reasonably good. Handy to know we're not too far from either gelato or coffee.
During the festival in the village, each region opens a taverna. They sell traditional medieval food and dress up in costume to serve you. We had attempted to translate the festival brochure and knew that there was a challenge between the three regions at 9.30pm
. Our plan was to eat at a taverna and then go watch the challenge. The first taverna didn't seem to have anything vegetarian, which wasn't very surprising. The second one did have something called a torte formaggio which we thought was a cheese pie. It turned out to be a cheese sandwich which was funny but not very satisfying for dinner. Toby had a mixed grill which he really enjoyed and Harriet enjoyed her nutella sandwich for dessert. Fiona and Toby had cantucci and vin santo for dessert which is an Italian specialty. The cantucci are hard biscuits like rusks and have nuts or chocolate pieces. They were delicious.
We walked to the
top of the village where there were bleachers set up to watch the challenge. We were a little late and they were packed so we had to sit separately. Then the challenge began and we were surprised to discover it was a series of three plays. They were amazingly well done. The costumes, sets and special effects were incredibly professional considering the size of the village. They really take this contest for the Palio seriously, as well as seeming to enjoy dressing up in tights. Each of the plays had a religious theme, but were all on a different subject. They seemed to be plays about why their region was superior to the others. There was lots of laughter, so they must have been funny. We giggled too, but mainly because we had no idea what was happening and because plays really weren't the sort of challenge we expected. The giggles had nothing whatsoever to do with the wine or vin santo - honest!
There are more photos below