The weather in Rome turned cold on Sunday, after Art & Chris left. We walked around a bit more, visiting the Baths of Diocletian, (trying to imagine what they might have been like since the main building was turned into a church) which we had never seen and wandering around a bit before deciding we were tired enough to head home. We caught the 2:15 train to Perugia and arrived at the station around 5:30, pulling our scarves up around our necks, bracing from the cold. When we got off the bus in Piazza Italia we noticed that a big ferris wheel had been erected in front of the Brufani Hotel and looked so charming against the darkening sky that we stopped to take some photos and look out over the view.
On Monday we began packing, putting away first all of our lightweight things and books that we knew we wouldn't need for now. I packed away all my art supplies and wrapped protectively things like Esther's mortar and pestle, the little sugar bowl and creamer we bought in Deruta and some small prints we had purchased here and there. Anything we will not need until we arrive in Sicily. There are only a few days left before we depart and then we will take a few days to drive down there. Everything else must fit in our little Toyota Yaris, which might prove to be a challenge. What doesn't fit must be given away or left behind! We have driving directions from the internet and have written to our cousins in Chianchetella to tell them we will be stopping there. Ermalinda sent me an email (in Italian, of course) to tell us that they were looking forward to it and giving us her phone number. We plan to stay two nights in the area and hope our language skills will be up to the task. At any rate, it should be easier than the last time we went there, when we knew so little.
On Wednesday morning I woke up and looked out the window to see a dusting of white on the ground. I got so excited, I hurried to throw on some clothes, waking Bob to join me to go out and play in the snow! Everyone who lives here has told us how beautiful Perugia is in the snow with the rooftops covered and I was sorry that we would be leaving too soon to see this for ourselves. But Mother Nature has been kind to us and now we feel that we have seen this beautiful city it all its seasons and can happily leave with many wonderful memories. The first place we went was down in the garden to our View and did indeed see the rooftops dusted with a blanket of snow, transforming our view into a winter wonderland. The snow on the streets around Piazza IV Novembre were melted and wet by the time we went down there but the fountain had snow on all the steps and the tops of the buildings had snow on their upper ledges. It was so wonderful to look out over the view at the other end of Corso Vannucci and see the churches of San Domenico and San Pietro and the houses below with white roofs and the entire top of Monte Subasio above Assisi covered in snow.
We were happy enough to have come full circle since the time we arrived and it was not yet spring. Trees were bare, the weather was cold and the flowers had not yet started to bloom. Then came the warmer weather and all the geraniums began to appear in window boxes, trees filled out with green and the grape vines woke up, sending their little shoots out from the dark branches. Summer was an explosion of color in the garden, with a succession of beautiful flowers. The santolina wore a crown of gold, lavender filled the air with its perfume, purple iris, yellow daffodils, tulips, daisies, roses, passion vines and finally, the incredible dahlias we enjoyed all through August and September. We loved watching the grapes grow over the arches in the garden, first little tiny buds and then filling out to lush bunches hanging from the vines. We felt a bit like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, pulling plums and peaches right off the trees and eating them, fresh from the garden. I used sage and rosemary snipped from the garden and we spent many hours staring out over this wonderful view, amazed at our good fortune at having found this piece of heaven and secured it for ourselves for this moment in time.
Autumn brought the changing leaves. The chestnut trees turned rusty brown with spiky balls of chartruesse green that dropped to the ground. The maple trees shed enormous red and yellow leaves and everywhere the colors were golden with shades of crimson here and there. The grounds of the garden were covered with crunchy acorns and we expected to be hit on the head one day but never were. Even the grape vines joined in and we saw rolling hillsides in autumn colors. The colder days brought fog and mist that was mysterious and marvelous to see and we had a blast walking around in the clouds. I loved the way the air felt on my face and the way the city looked like a photograph that has been ghosted back, its buildings and fountains like silhouettes through the fog.
And now the snow. The finishing touch. It didn't last for more than that day but the weather has definitely turned cold. We go outside now bundled up in scarves and sweaters and coats. We found these nifty mitten/gloves that are like gloves with the fingers cut off but with a mitten-like flap you can pull off and on if you need to use your fingers without taking off the gloves. My black wool coat with the hood tops it all off. They say snow in November is unusual. Everyone said it doesn't usually snow until January or February. And we are packing to go.
Someone else said it could be cold in Sicily. We know it will not be like summer when we arrive but it should not be as cold as it is here. We hope! But we are ready to go. Not to say we will not miss this wonderful city of Perugia. Forever I will hold it in my heart. It has been a time like no other and one we will treasure. Regardless what comes next, we will always have Perugia. We look forward now to the next part of our adventure, never having even visited Sicily and only knowing what we have read or seen in books and what other people tell us, we are excited to discover its secrets. Every time we tell someone we are going there, they say "Bella Sicilia!!" and tell us how beautiful it is and how much they love it. We can't wait to find out for ourselves and to experience this land of my ancestors.
As I sit and write these words it is pouring rain outside. Bob has gone to the post office to mail a few small Christmas gifts we wanted to send before we left. Last night we shared a pizza at Il Segretto di Pulcinella, one of our favorite restaurants. These next few days will be busy ones as we try to say goodbye to everyone we have met and gather the last of our belongings into our little car. The refrains of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song keeps running through my head, with my own lyrics "...and they loaded up the car and moved to Sicily."
Arrevederci Perugia, bella citta. Arrivederci Umbria, bell'Umbria. Ci vediamo.
Rosemary & Roberto