Monday, December 31, 2007
Seize the Day
Carpe diem! We have resolved to visit all the places in Umbria we haven't yet seen. We have set no time limit -- a lifetime, maybe? -- as our list is growing more complicated and we keep going back to places we love. From our house, La Casetta Rosa, we can jump in the car and be almost any place in Umbria in less than an hour.
In 2007, we discovered the only catacombs in Umbria, near San Faustino, south of Todi. We made an appointment for a tour and our little group was alone with the guide -- no lines, no jostling for space, just silence and a pervading sense of history. Nearby, hidden in a wooded gully, is an arched Roman bridge that has spanned an ephemeral creek for 2,000 years.
We made an entirely unplanned visit to Lake Piediluco. With some time to kill before a doctor's appointment in Terni, I started driving, looking for a coffee bar. When I didn't see one, I kept driving, finally ending up at the top of a mountain near the Cascata delle Marmore (a waterfall engineered by the Romans, which we will revisit in warm weather). From there, it's only six km to Piediluco, the little town that edges the lake. On that fall afternoon, the air was still and late sunlight slanted across the water, reflecting sky and trees. In the distance there is a tiny medieval village, shining white in the fading light -- in 2008 I am going to that village, though right now I don't know its name.
In the spring we revisited the Roman town Carsulae on the old Via Flaminia, where the grass was studded with wildflowers and tufts of clover sprouted from between the old stones. In the heat of summer, we reveled in the cool damp air of the huge Roman cistern down under the grand piazza in Todi; in Orvieto, we cooled off in the Pozzo di San Patrizio by following the double helix of worn stone stairs, used over centuries by donkeys carrying water to slake the thirst of the town. Our other summer pleasure is to take the ferry across Lake Trasimeno from Passignano to the Isola Maggiore, where stone buildings glow in the hot light and old ladies sit in the shade and crochet lace.
We went back to Spoleto for the umpteenth time, driving past San Pietro church to park on the far side of the huge arched ponte. Fortunately, we were able to walk across this amazing bridge one more time before it was closed for restoration.
An old man in our own little village, San Terenizano, told us Galileo spent some time here. The great astronomer and scientist left no mark that we can see in the medieval center and there is no plaque, but we like to think he admired the night sky from the towers. Our town, named after the first bishop of Todi, doesn't have much history of note -- there are a few very old churches and buildings -- so the idea that Galileo Galilei stopped by is kind of thrilling. (Lucretia Borgia stayed nearby at the castello Barattano while she was governor of Spoleto).
copyright Sharri Whiting Umbria Bella 2007