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Italy: Day 9 – Umbria

March 10, 2010

SUNDAY, April 20, Umbria

Today is a road trip. We drive to Norcia, and wander around the town, seeing the church built atop the birthplace of Saints Benedict and Scholastica. There are few tourists, and it’s a chance to see the town as it is. There’s an extended family in the main piazza getting ready to go into church for a baptism, judging from the baby in a white gown, and lots of locals out and about.

Norcia is known for its cured meats, and this is evident from the smell that slightly permeates the town. We go into some shops, though we pass on the meats: not our cup of tea. I pick up a bottle of grappa with truffle oil, and Charlie samples some cheeses. After soaking in the town for a few hours, we continue on to Piano Grande.

The drive up into the mountains is nowhere near as hair-rising as I thought it would be. That is, except for the multitude of speeding motorcycles. We must have seen a hundred of them.

The Piano Grande is breathtaking, even though there’s little blooming in late April. We take some pictures in the snow pack, then quickly continue driving to get warm again. As we drive into Castellucia, we realize we’ve come from high up, traveled down into the plain, and then climbed high above the plain again, all without realizing it. We had planned on stopping in Castellucia, but the town is overrun by motorcyclists, and we didn’t see any parking spots.

On the way back home, we stop in Borgo Cerreto for lunch. Upon entering the town, Charlie’s eye is immediately drawn to the roadside cart selling pork sandwiches. Unfortunately, they’ve sold out for the day, so it’s one of the two restaurants on the main drag. This is probably the best meal of the trip. Charlie has a pasta with truffle sauce, and I have a pasta with pomodoro sauce.

Dinner is in the apartment, with an outing later in the evening for gelato. Charlie somehow zigs when he should have zagged, aggravating his back. Last time this happened, we wound up in the emergency department for six hours, so we go to bed hoping it won’t be too bad. I pray to every saint whose birthplace, place of death, tomb, bones or other relic we had seen so far on our trip, and realize what a long list it is!

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