Yesterday we decided it was time to get in the car and go. We weren’t sure where, but that car and the road were calling our names and we were ready. Armed with books and maps we headed out not planning to go very far and only certain that we wanted to stay on the small back roads and watch the landscape go by as we traveled from place to place.
Almost immediately we encountered olive groves and vineyards. We drove down into the valleys that we had observed from our garden view, close to the farms and fields of sunflowers and tobacco plants, along the winding roads that pass towns too little to even be on the map. Our first destination was a beautiful little town called Bevagna, which we have been told has been "discovered" by the British and Germans and therefore you find English spoken by the people living there and see high prices for purchasing homes on the signs in the real estate office windows. It’s no wonder really; it’s such a charming town. Flat, so people ride bicycles and just a pretty, pretty town. We found a shop called "La Valchiera," a "Cartari" where they make paper using medieval methods and equipment and I bought a stack of it for my watercolors. It’s beautiful and very much like the kind of paper in the journals I like so much so I’m anxious to paint on it. The "Mastro" or master papermaker, Francesco Proietti, asked me to come back and tell him how I liked it. We had a little conversation in Italian, which was fun and it was also exciting to find, so unexpectedly, this beautiful place. I’ve been searching for good paper sources for my watercolors so this was quite the discovery!
At the outskirts, outside the main porta there’s a beautiful park with tall trees and benches and a very nice children’s playground. We bought a few things for a picnic lunch and walked down a sun-dappled path, noticing that there was a sort of bandstand area where we imagined people dancing during summer festivals. The day was overcast. We had left Perugia in the rain, searching for the sun. We found it in Bevagna, enjoyed our lunch, walked around the town for a while appreciating it’s beauty and then got back in the car for more discoveries.
We made a very brief stop in Foligno, a much more modern town with a small historic center. We noticed that the centro was decorated for a festival starting on Friday but nothing much was happening yesterday so we did not stick around.
Next stop was Trevi, a town that spills down the hillside in colors of pink and gold and brown, famous for its olive oil. It’s a very steep town with narrow streets and tall buildings that at times felt very claustrophobic and I became anxious at one point that it would be like one of those mazes where you get lost and cannot find your way out! We liked the city though and I sat and painted while Bob took off to take some photos. I really enjoy painting these vertical slices of a city where you just catch a glimpse of the architecture and in Trevi I found a little spot I couldn’t resist.
The sky was darkening and rain seemed imminent so we got back in the car, just before a downpour and headed towards Montefalco, a town famous for both olive oil and wine. By this time it was getting late, and we were getting tired and hungry but it was too early for the restaurants to be open for dinner so, just to tide us over, we again picked up some snacks which we ate in the car as we drove back to Perugia. The sun was starting to set and the sky was filled with storm clouds and pink streaks. We stopped to photograph some fields of sunflowers against this setting sun and I roughed in a painting which I would have to finish later, as the rain came down and we were forced back into the car! The storm seemed to be keeping a few steps behind us as we continued down the road and came upon a field of corn - it’s golden cobs glistening in the colors of the setting sun and once again we stopped to try to capture the scene. I worked very quickly, fearing the rain and put down a very fast impression of the golden corn, its brown and green leaves turned down below the cobs, row after row disappearing into the distance, the sky a glorious pink and purple.
We didn’t get home until almost 9 and parked the car in its little place in the garden, locked the gate and walked over the get a pizza and share a quarter liter of wine in one of our favorite little pizzerias close to home. A very fun day, we are excited to have this little car and to be able to just pick up and go wherever and whenever we decide. We feel as if we have turned a page and started a whole new chapter to this adventure and can’t wait to tell you how it goes!
Rosemary & Robert
(photos to follow)