Abode {W}

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Perugia, Corciano, and a reunion

After spending Saturday in Rome, Sunday morning found us in a train headed for Perugia. This was the moment we had been waiting for, our return to Perugia after a 33 year absence. Perugia is the largest city of the region of Umbria. The city is famous for its chocolate factory, named Perugina. The best known Perugina product is the Baci, which means kiss. The company also makes some pretty delicious hard candies, and has children, our neighbors kept us well supplied with Perugina candy.

Just for fun, we stayed in the hotel we lived in for five days in 1978 while my father found us an apartment. The name of the hotel is the Albergo Fortuna, and it is a lovely hotel. It is located right in the center of the old section of the city, and was very convenient for exploring. Also clean and quiet.

Here we are in the lobby of the hotel, just before walking out to our old house. Sunday was spent walking around the town, finding our old favorite places. Graham was very tolerant of our constant stream of reminisces, and it was fun to show him the landmarks of our childhood. Our old favorite pizza parlor. The aqueduct we walked over daily to get to and from school. The gelateria we frequented, and the beautiful old fountain (Fontagna Maggiore) in the town square.

The views from the old section of the city are beautiful! This picture was taken from the stairs leading down to the open air market my mother used to shop at weekly. This is also the starting point of the city's mini metro system, a cute little car on rails than buzzes about the city.

This slightly blurry picture shows the home of the Virgin Mary's wedding ring, which is in the church in the main square. I can't remember the name of the church, but it is beautiful. The ring is taken out and put on display one day a year (July 19th, I believe) and I would love to be there to see that!

The first six months we lived in Perugia, we rented a nice, fairly modern apartment just a short walk from the center of the city. Then, my father decided that was too expensive, so he rented a little old farmhouse on an olive farm. This house was a good four mile walk outside of Perugia, in a little town named Ponte d'Oddi. This is one of the roads we walked down every day, going to and from school. In the distance you can see an old tower, which is the entry to the city through the old city walls. This is called the Porta San Angelo. Every day when we walked by, we would check the iron door into the tower. It was always locked. Finally, one afternoon, we found it unlocked and climbed to the top of the tower. The view was fantastic, and that afternoon exploring the tower was one of my favorite memories of Italy.

As we walked out to the farmhouse, we met up with a nice old lady who heard us speaking English. She told us we must go see the church (pictured above) as it was very old and beautiful. It was just to,one side of the tower, up a short flight of stairs. I don't know why we never checked it our as children, but I am sure glad we did this time around! It was beautiful, and fascinating. The old lady, whose name is Angela, has always wanted to come to Oregon. I gave her my phone number, and told her to call me if she could ever come. She was thrilled, and we continued on our way knowing we had made a friend.

One more tower picture! This tower was so much a part of my childhood. The road into town from our house was just a narrow country road, not really meant to walk along. The cars would whiz past us as we flattened ourselves up against the stone walls lining the road. I never felt really safe until we had gone under the tower, at which point there was a sidewalk of sorts!

This is a little roadside shrine, which is where we waited for the bus in to town when we had money for bus tickets. I tended to spend my allowance on candy instead of bus tickets, but when we did ride the bus, we would run up and down these stairs as we waited. Pretty cool to see my son, 33 years later, on those same stairs!

And, this is our,old house. I suspect that no one has lived in it since we moved out in 1980. The place is a ruin, as you will see in the next pictures. The yard is all overgrown, and we should have just admired it from afar instead of entering the house, but we had yet to discover that. As my sister Sarah said later, "No longer safe to enter!"

This is the old kitchen and dining room. Notice the sagging ceiling beams? The crumbling walls? This should have been a clue, but we were caught up in the excitement of being back in the house.

A different view of the same room. The floors in the back part of the house were gone, as was much of the roof. We prudently avoided that section!

However, I imprudently went in to this room. Notice the tiles on the floor under the window? Those had, at one point, covered the entire floor. Without them, the floor was not stable. I found this out when the floor caved in on me, and I fell 15 feet in to the basement below the house. One moment I was in the room having my picture taken, the next I was coming to in a dark basement on a dirt floor, with sunlight streaming through a hole above me. I hit my head on the way down, and was dizzy and bleeding. Long story short, I spent the next eight hours in an Italian hospital. That was quite an adventure, with a few hilarious moments, such as the elderly lady who was fascinated by me and kept coming to look at me and stroke my hair. She was so kind, I wish I had been in a condition to talk to her. Anyway, telling all about those eight hours would turn this in to an epic, so we will just move on to the reunion part of the trip!


When we lived in Perugia, we had a good friend named Rosella. We went to her apartment every night to watch Happy Days when we lived in town, and once we moved to the farm, she would come play with us on the weekend. She was our best friend, and we always felt badly about losing touch with her. The best part of the trip was seeing her again! It felt like, in spite of our limited Italian and her limited English, we were able to pick up right where we left off. She is a delightful person, and it was SO good to see her again. She is pictured above in the purple coat. She and her husband have a small weekend house in a little hilltop town outside of Perugia named Corciano. On Wednesday she drove us out there, and we had a great time exploring this beautiful little town.

The town was so peaceful, and almost every building had flower boxes full of flowers or greenery. The streets were clean, and it seemed like a very pleasant place to live. Rosella tells us that they rent out their house to people, so I am saving my pennies and hoping to drag my husband away from the farm someday to go stay in Corciano.

Another picture of Corciano. Once again, I was very much struck by the beauty and peace of this little town.

Rosella the took us to a giant shoe factory, where we looked at thousands of Italian shoes. It was a factory outlet type of store, and even with that huge room full of shoes, there was nothing to fit my huge feet! I wear a European size 42, and the largest size I found there was a 41. Rosella was determined to find me a pair that fit, but eventually even she gave up. We ate lunch at her favorite pizza restaurant in Perugia, and then said our goodbyes. It was hard to say goodbye again, but now we have e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and will be able to keep in touch. After we left Rosella, we did some more shopping ( I overdid it in a wonderful little food store and had to ship a box of food home) and walked around the city for a few hours, taking in all the sights and sounds and smells, as the next morning our time in Perugia would come to an end. Now that we have been back, we are all determined to make another trip happen soon. Italy has always been very dear to me ( sounds sappy, I know, but our years there were very happy ones) , and I would love to be able to go back regularly. It is a good incentive to be more frugal in my daily life here, so I can save enough to make another trip. Next up, the beautiful city of Florence!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A sisters trip!

It has been such a long time since I have blogged. Life has been busy and full, but I don't feel as if any of it has been worthy of sharing with the world. However, I am wanting to blog about my recent trip to Italy, so this seems like a good time to resurrect my neglect corner of the Internet. I hesitated before blogging about my trip-it can be just as dull to the reader as the slide shows of my childhood. But, one of my main goals in blogging is to have a record of my days, a collective memory of sorts. The nice thing about blogging is that, unlike the stuffy, dark living rooms of slide show days, the viewer is able to leave without any hard feelings. If the narrative if my epic sisters trip to Italy is unendurable, just the click of a mouse will bap it away, to be replaced by something more diverting. Also, if anyone is up for a stroll down memory lane with me, the are welcome to come along. So! With out further ado, I present you Sister's trip to Italy 2013.

Before I begin, I must go back in time to 1978. September of 1978, to be exact. That was the month that my parents moved, with their four girls in tow, to Perugia, Italy. In June of 1980, we came back to America for, what we were told, was the summer. We would return to Italy in August, in time for school to begin. As it turns out, we never went back. So, last summer we hatched a plan to return to return to Italy together, and spend a week revisiting our beloved Perugia. After much planning (and cajoling husbands) and praying that nothing would happen to prevent our going, we got to take our trip. We left on March 22nd, flying from Portland to Amsterdam and then on to Rome. Everything went perfectly ( we even flew first class, which pretty much rocks), and we were greeted in Rome by warm, sunny weather.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Rome, drinking cappuccino and eating delicious toasted sandwiches (panini) as we walked. Rome is full of beautiful old churches, and no matter how many I see I am still amazed at their beauty and lavishness. We only went in to two churches though, as it just felt good to be outside in the sunshine, part of the happy crowd.

Every where we walked that day, we could see these horses and their chariots watching over the city. We only explored a small area, as we were beginning to feel the effects of not sleeping for over twenty four hours. After walking about for five hours, a good meal, a bottle of wine, and hot showers sounded better than another monument.

My eldest son, Graham, went along with us. He spent the first night in Rome with us, came to,Perugia with us for two days, and then returned to Rome to hang out with a bunch of his friends who happened to be there at the same time. He was a great companion, and loved very minute of the trip. Tomorrow (hopefully) I will chronicle our four days in Perugia, which is where we had some real adventures.

Rome was lovely, and a great place to start our trip. I know people who don't like is, because it is crowded and noisy. I can understand that, and know I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time there. However, Rome is a rich city- rich in history, beauty, mystery, and culture. In spite of the crowds and noise, I have always found it to be a delightful city, and wish we had had more time to explore. Next time, assuming there is a next time, I want to see Rome Ostia, which is the ancient port of Rome. It sounds fascinating, and after doing some research on it, it is on my must see list.