Today is Monday. Jessica went home on Friday; Chris the Monday before that and already it seems like a long time since we were together! But we did have a great time! We drove down on Wednesday, June 5 to Rome to pick up Jessica and drove back to Perugia along some of the most scenic parts of Lazio, stopping to explore what turned out to be one of the largest Necropoli in Italy, near Cerveteri, burial grounds of the Etruscans and all these amazing tombs - they dug down into the earth and mounded the dirt they removed on top to create an area that could have been inhabited by Hobbits. It was eerily silent with only Bob, Jessica and myself and another small group of French tourists wandering the grounds. Jessica wanted to "touch old stuff" and her first stop in Italy proved to be full of it!
Heading towards Perugia we drove through the beautiful rolling countryside of Lazio, north of Rome, charming little towns where the nonnas in their kerchiefs sweeping the street or sitting on benches looked like they stepped out of the last century; the castle perched above Lago Bracciano; passing all the little hill towns and vineyards that make up southern Umbria. Beautiful, ancient places, and sprinkled throughout the day, a bit of rain to wash the hillsides and make the colors all the more vivid against the grey sky. Her flight had come in around 11am, and what would normally be a2 to 3 hours trip from Rome to Perugia took us until sunset, arriving as the lights in the city were coming on, and we viewed Perugia at night with her, walking along the Corso Vannucci, down to the "view" where Assisi sparkled in the distance. Exhausted, we slept well that first night, looking forward to spending the next 15 days together.
The first thing we did in the morning was take her down to Our View and she agreed that the photographs do not do it justice and that it is impossible to imagine what this garden and this place really look like without seeing it first-hand. The grapevines are turning red and brown now and are not as lush as they were earlier in the summer. Fallen leaves scatter the grounds. The flowers are starting to fade but the beauty is still evident - the dahlias are still putting out fresh blossoms and the roses, still blooming. But it won't be long we are sure before the flowers will all be just a memory that was this amazing summer.
In the few days before Chris arrived, Jessica had done her homework and had an idea of what she wanted to see. Partly from the stories and photos she had read about on our blog and partly from the research she had done on places that struck her fancy. We spent Thursday morning in Perugia giving her a brief tour of our favorite places and then headed to Orvieto in the afternoon. Even the rain did not spoil the beauty of this city with its dazzling Duomo and pretty piazza. We spent all day Friday in Assisi seeing more of the city than we ever had before, with Jessica and her guide book earmarked with interesting places like the Santuario di San Damiano, built on the spot where St. Francis is said to have heard the voice of Jesus and where he wrote his famous Canticle of the Creatures. She seemed to enjoy every bit of it and we were delighted to be able to experience with her this beautiful city.
Saturday took us to the Cascata delle Marmore, the waterfall originally built by the Ancient Romans that Rita and Sergio showed us on our trip with them through Umbria earlier this spring. She had read about it, and friends who had been here strongly advised her to see it. We had so much fun walking all the paths around it and seeing it from every vantage point. The scenery in this part of Umbria is quite breathtaking with river gorges and lush, tree-covered mountains beginning to turn shades of gold and red. The afternoon found us in Spoleto, a bit disappointing with so many of its palazzi covered in scaffolding, it was hard to really appreciate this important Umbrian town and we did not stay too long. She did enjoy visiting the Museo Archeologico and the Teatro Romano, which the current Spoleto Festival uses to stage music performances in the summer months. More old stuff to touch.
(to be continued: see Chris arrives)