"The Greeny Heart of Italy"

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October 31st 2010
Published: November 1st 2010
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Day Five, Spoleto, continued…

We got up, breakfasted, packed , got cash, and moved into our apartment. It is very new, in a 17th century building, right in the middle of the old part of town. It is owned by a New Yorker/Italian who lives here now, on a farm outside the town.

We then set off on a hike to the sacred wood at Monteluco, elevation of 804 meters (we started at about 400 meters) and about 5 kilometers round trip (not including the times we were lost). We walked through the town up to the Rocca Albomoziana, a 14th century papal fortress, turned prison, and now museum, and generally ugly edifice, to the Ponte delle Torre and across to the trail up the mountain. This area has been considered sacred since prehistoric times (the Roman warning sign I put in yesterday’s blog came from here), and many have used its slopes for a place of retreat and meditation. There are many caves used by monks, and monasteries scattered over the hills.

We hiked for about an hour up to Monteluco (lucus means sacred in Latin), where we had lunch in the woods at a picnic table, explored the sacred wood of holm oaks(still surrounded by an ancient wall), admired the view (and the incongruity of the closed-for-the-season bar next to a 13th century convent, still in use).

We decide to hike back on a different route, and got a bit lost in the first hour, but came out on the road. We found the trail again, and this time lost it when we tried to find better footing on an adjacent path. We ran into hunters (this part of Italy, despite the work of St. Francis, is know for the hunting of song birds, among other victims). We found the trail again, but slipped and stumbled our way down the last kilometer, because most of the trail had washed out recently. As we approached Spoleto, the church bells began to ring, followed by the bell of the church we were passing by on the trail.

Back in town five hours after our departure, we found the crowds had really grown. We had enjoyed our “excursion in the land of the greeny heart of Italy” as the creatively translated trekking guide so eloquently encouraged. The guide also reminded us that sometimes the trail markings are
Start of our hikeStart of our hikeStart of our hike

Looking down at Spoleto
unclear (see getting lost above), but that “St. Francisco, after all, walked without signs!”. As to wildlife, the guide states “It can happen to cross wild animals, and be not afraid, enjoy their beauty. A bit of attention only to the vipers (deadly snakes) in the area”.

The weather was perfect…sunny and crisp…so people were walking everywhere. We rested a bit at a café overlooking the valley, shopped for dinner (I made pasta, pesto and eggs) and settled into our new home for the evening.

Day Six Spoleto

Unfortunately, Bill woke up ill this morning, with a cold and fever. We had not slept well last night as the town stayed lively til about 1:30 am. I decided to go on the free bus to an olive oil production farm nearby (the free tour is part of an Umbrian tourist initiative this month) by myself. I hadn’t realized that the time changed last night, but finally connected with the bus. The olive farm was beautiful and free food, wine, and olive oil flowed.

I had understood we were to meet the bus at a quarter to the hour, but assumed it was the next hour. I went the bus pickup and waited for 30 minutes, but no bus. I decided I would have to ask someone driving out for ride, and tried a few cars, with no luck. There was another tour bus coming 3 hours later, but I knew Bill would wonder where I was…and I was worried about how he was feeling.. then I saw a couple I recognized from the bus, who told me that it would come in another 30 minutes…what a relief! I had another cup of wine and relaxed…

When I got back, Bill was worse, so I headed out alone to shop for food. I realized that most places would be closed on Sunday and also Monday for the holiday…I checked the big supermarket a half hour trot down the hill, and it was closed. Coming back up a little more slowly than I went down, I found all the (expensive) little shops nearby open, and got our groceries. I met a lovely, tiny, old man in a fruit/vegetable shop who gave me a plum for free, and flirted.

I made it back home without getting rained on. Kids are out for Halloween, the holiday crowds fill the streets….just watched some Jon Stewart on the internet, with signal “borrowed” from some place, available with the netbook perched in the window overlooking the piazza.

Hopefully Bill will feel better tomorrow….Unforunately, he won't let me post a photo of his current condition...!

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


In the holm oaksIn the holm oaks
In the holm oaks

Their leaves bear no resemblance to oak leaves but the acorns look the same.
View from the apartmentView from the apartment
View from the apartment

Looking towards the hill we climbed

1st November 2010

Beautiful countryside! Beautiful weather! Can't believe how lucky you were in getting an apartment. Hope Bill feels better ASAP. Carol and Martin
1st November 2010

Bigger luggage
I always l.ove to get your travel blogs- When I see the 1st one pop up in my email, I try to figure out where in the world you are. Next trip, pack me in your suitcase!! :)
1st November 2010

The olive oil making process is pretty cool. When we were in Palestine- we took my husband's family's olives to the Coop Olive Press- it was pretty amazing-
1st November 2010

Larry lives in Uzes, France (Provence) and harvests the many olive trees on their property for olive oil. He was just here visiting in Rockport for girls' birthdays (both Leslie & Kristen now live in town).You should plan to visit there. He has a guest house.
1st November 2010

So beautiful !!
Thank you so much for taking the time to make posts on your trip. We really enjoy them! (Errol says hello!)
2nd November 2010

I think you mean to say "fortunately"
Thanks for the update. Hope Billeeee is feeling better soon. But I think we are all happy that you did post a pic of sick self!! ;-}

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