Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Casa Paradiso, Assisi and Perugia

After yesterday morning's tour or Rome, we caught the metro back to the hotel, checked out and set off northwards. We had some great scenery driving along the slow route through the mountains via Spoleto to Assisi. I didn't realise how mountainous and dramatic the scenery can be in Umbria. On my previous visits I had travelled by train and obviously the rail route avoids the mountainous areas if possible. I had seen pamphlets advertising white-water rafting tours in Umbria and now I realised how that could be.

The farm cottage where we are staying is called "Casa Paradiso" - quite aptly I have to say. It is 8km beyond Assisi and you have to pass though the hill town of Assisi right to the top of the hill then through the Porta di Perlici, and on to a narrow winding road down to the valley of the River Tescio and then up another mountainside. The cottage is just perfect. Very old, but comfortable, with balcony and fantastic views to the mountains. Lots of cats around and a puppy who keeps dropping in. The only flaw is the washing machine whose spin cycle has seen better days so we are having to wring the clothes out by hand.

We arrived at the cottage in the late afternoon, and after settling in we drove through Assisi to Perugia, which is the capital of Umbria and where the nightlife is. The Umbria Jazz festival is on at the moment so the town is full. We had fun at the pub where we ate dinner as we had a very cheerful waiter, Christian, who had very little English but was eager to please. My Italian is at the same level as his English so we both learnt a lot and he was very charming.

We spent a long time after dinner trying to find our way to where we had parked the car. We had tried to find a map of the city when we arrived but with no luck. I think the boys thought I was the responsible one - how quaint ! So the experience was a useful one in that they now realised that the error of their assumptions. I was just pleased that we all remained cheerful and in the end it was a group effort that got us back as we each had a little piece we had remembered. Darcy's were all related to particular spots where he had noticed some beautiful girls. Mine the first two street names I had memorised coming up from where we parked the car before I got distracted with the pleasure of just ambling around Perugia again.

This morning we got up fairly late and took our time to get going. We spent most of the day in Assisi looking around. We also drove down to the valley to Santa Maria degli Angeli. We found a supermaket there and provisioned ourselves for the next three days now that we have a kitchen to cook in. I always find the whole food shopping experience very interesting in another country and I think the boys enjoyed it too.

After returning to the cottage, resting and cooking dinner, we ate then got in the car again and drove back to town as Richard and Darcy wanted to hire a movie to watch. They asked quite a lot of people for directions but we were never able to find a video store.

I find the ambience in Assisi very peaceful and staying in the countryside is very relaxing. Tomorrow I hope to be able to walk to the top of Monte Subasio which is between where we are staying and Assisi.

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