Monday, December 12, 2005

The Journey South (30 Nov '05)

Our scheduled departure was the 30th of November and for days before that we said goodbye to all the lovely people we had met. We stopped in the pasticceria to tell them we were leaving Perugia and got a warm handshake and good wishes from the man who owns the place. We had a last lunch at our favorite trattoria and learned that the owner was from Sicily, near Agrigento and he wished us well also. We had a coffee with Giovanna, our friend from the Internet Point who was always cheerful and so helpful to us since the first day we arrived in Perugia. She is from Pompeii and we shared phone numbers and email addresses and promised to keep in touch. We said goodbye to Roberta, our tutor and to Carla, my conversation friend who gave me a small pitcher with her hand-painted design on it as a gift. We had coffee with Sergio and Rita a few days before and I gave them a gift of one of my watercolors of the "View" and a botanical watercolor for each of their mothers in gratitude for their kindness to us. Our neighbors John and Susan fixed dinner for us on our last night. Bob had spent the better part of Tuesday packing the car, which was ultimately packed to the gills. How did we accumulate so much stuff?? He is really good at this and likes to do it by himself so I just stay out of his way and let him organize, making everything was ready to go. We ended up having to leave behind some groceries, which John and Susan accepted graciously and we felt kind of stupid not to have planned better to use of most of the stuff we had before leaving. Oh well.

On the morning of our scheduled departure Rita came to say goodbye and brought us a wonderful gift. I think I wrote about the book she had written on the history of the streets in Perugia, which Bob and I enjoyed so much. We tried to purchase one but the bookstores were all out and it was no longer in print. As a parting gift, Rita gave us one of these books and we were so touched at the lovely words she wrote to us on the front page. We will treasure it always along with our memories of their generosity and kindness to us. We have so much to be thankful for. We had phone calls from some of our English speaking friends to wish us well and around 10 in the morning, in the pouring rain we drove down and out of Perugia, tears streaming down my face as we said goodbye to this city that has been such a joy to us. Jessica gave us a CD of the best songs of Broadway (we love those show tunes you know!) and "Don't cry for me Argentina" was playing as we drove away - and we changed the words to "Don't cry for me my Perugia..." Music has always accompanied the moments of our lives and at times there seems to be a sound track playing with just the right song at the right moment and we always have to laugh.

Heading south we passed the signs for Corciano, Torgiano, Deruta and all the towns in Umbria we spent so much time in, another Farewell Tour, the rain quite heavy the whole day. What we thought would be a 4 or 5 hour drive to Chianchetella took more like 6 or 7. We had booked a hotel in Chianche, we thought, the town right next to Chianchetella and were surprised when it turned out to be just up the street from the Fabrizios, my distant cousins we planned to visit. This was sort of hilarious. We had asked on the phone if there was a garage for the car since we had so much stuff in it and the man had assured us it would be safe. This town is so small; there is only one small church, a little grocery store, a meat store and a bar. The only restaurant wasn't open. There is a fountain and tiny town square and one really main street and a few that run off of it. It's a very simple place and we are sure everyone knows everyone else and crime is not really a problem. We passed houses with keys in the doors! The hotel was larger than we expected and we had a room with a balcony and a view of the surrounding mountains and hillsides covered with grapevines. The hotel itself is half old-age home and half hotel, kind of disconcerting at breakfast. Of course it is off-season so we were the only other non-residents - a curiosity for those alert enough to notice. But the view from our balcony was quite spectacular and more than made up for any discomfort we felt, living in an old-folks home, even if only for a few days.

(to be continued...see "Finding Ancestors in Chianchetella")

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