Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I haven’t posted in a while because I think I hit a brick wall.  You know how that happens when you’re dieting… reach a plateau where no matter what you do, you just can’t lose another pound.  Well, I just couldn’t see another church or museum or hop on another train or bus to tour yet another charming hillside Umbrian town.  I wasn’t sure I could admit this, because I know many of my friends and family are envious of me right now.  But after googling “travel weariness”, I discovered this is not unusual.  Maybe my saturation point on traveling comes at 8 months and 2 weeks.

The simple cure was just living an ordinary life for a few days.  I shopped for groceries, I did my laundry, I cleaned my apartment…..

 Here it is by the way….my kitchen, living room, dining area….

And the loft where I try to sleep on my lumpy bed.

I got my hair cut, I read, I watched Italian TV programs and tried to figure out what was going on, I went to the Vodaphone store three times to try to get an answer about why my phone and Internet minutes disappear so fast, and I watched it rain 4 days.  This “down week” reminded me of my life at home.  It wasn’t a bad week, but it also wasn’t a week where I discovered much….except for hazelnut yogurt.  I may have been overlooking this luscious creamy concoction in Italian grocery stores for weeks, because I’d never think of looking for it.  Italians do love their noccia.  I mixed my first carton with bananas and strawberries and it was almost, but not quite, as good as eating gelato.

Speaking of gelato, I’m sure I’ve given everyone the impression that I eat it every day, but I don’t.  I have it maybe once a week.  There aren’t quite as many gelaterie in Perugia as there were in Florence, where temptation seemed to confront me every few feet.  I used to get tiramisu most of the time, but now I’m hooked on the combination of bacio, which is chocolate with hazelnuts, and coconut.  It reminds me of Almond Joy, my favorite candy bar.  There must be some Italian blood in me somewhere, because I love the flavor of hazelnut, and I’m very surprised that the Italians haven’t used it to flavor their coffee yet, but then I think they’re purists when it comes to their caffé. 

Anyway, a week of “down time” seems to have done the trick, because today I wanted to go somewhere again, and I did.  I hopped on a train and hopped off at Spello, one stop past Assisi.  

There aren’t an arm’s length list of things to see in Spello.  

There's this first century B.C. entrance to the town.  There are a couple of churches where you can see the work of two notable Italian painters, Pinturiccio and Perugino. But it’s one charming little town to just wander around….or should I say wander up and down.  I walked uphill from the train station to the town center, stopping along the way to take a couple of nature shots.

Some pretty wildflowers with the backdrop of a section of the old wall that surrounds the city.

A curious clock tower with greenery growing from the top.

After an uphill climb of about a half hour, I arrived at the main piazza of this little town of 8,600 people.  I had selected a trattoria recommended by Trip Advisor for lunch, and wouldn’t you know, I had to go back down another side of that hill I just clumb to find it.  When I got to the street number where it was supposed to be, I couldn’t find it.  I inquired at a nearby jewelry store, only to discover it was closed today.  So back up the hill I trekked to find another place to eat, which turned out to be not so great.

But the town was definitely not a disappointment.  I passed dozens of streets where there were beautiful flowers on display.

Climbing roses

Pots of flowers

Flowers adorning walls.....all very charming. 

There is a flower festival here at the beginning of June and groups of people work together to create masterpieces from flowers. 

Here’s an example.  I’m really sorry I won’t be in Umbria on June 1 to enjoy this festival.

After lunch, I bought my weekly gelato and started walking uphill just to see what was there.  I heard American voices behind me and asked the couple passing by if they knew what was at the top of the hill. They didn’t either, but we continued the journey upward together and spent the next hour or so chatting about our travels in Italy. 

Jack and Janice are from Chester County in Pennsylvania, married 40 years, and spending a month here in Italy.  They’re touring by car and have been an amazing number of places.  Jack has Italian blood coursing through his veins and part of their journey is to discover his roots.

After checking out Pinturiccio and Perugino in a couple of the churches, Jack stopped at a wonderful wine shop, and we were treated to a tasting of some incredibly wonderful wine and bruschetta dripping in delectable olive oil.  The wine we tasted went for 85 euro a bottle.  Needless to say, I didn’t buy any, but Jack did, and now I’m the one who’s envious!

The sky was darkening and it looked like a storm was brewing, so Jack and Janice gave me a ride back to the train station, where I caught the next train to Perugia. The raindrops started falling just as I was opening the door to my apartment building.

All in all, it was a lovely day, due in part to meeting more really nice people.  And, I guess my batteries are rechargeable, because I feel re-energized.

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