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Bevagna!

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I really enjoyed the small Umbrian town of Bevagna where I stayed for 3 nights last month. My hotel, the Palazzo Brunamonti, was completely charming and a steal at just 60 euro per night. Bevagna boasts several good restaurants, several lovely churches, extraordinary Roman mosaics (see below,) an interesting little waterfront park and an excellent bakery. Even the free parking outside the town walls (which I was occasionally forced to use due to the size of my big-ass BMW) proved easy and convenient since nothing is that far away from anything else inside the walls!

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Besides all of that, Bevagna is extremely well-located. It's several kilometres from Assisi, Spello, Montefalco -- and very close Mary T.'s lovely agriturismo Genius Loci. In fact, it was when I first visited Mary that I really could see, quite literally, from her terrace just how close all of these famous Umbrian hill towns are to one another. And also see her lovely lavender and her family's grape vines.

Bevagna is one of the rare Umbrian towns that is actually quite flat. I thought that would make it easier to drive in and out, during the brief period when I had the rental car -- a large BMW station wagon (for one person? What was AutoEurope thinking?) This caused a bit of a mismatch between the width of the rental car and the narrowness of Bevagna streets.

My hotel, the delightful Brunamonti, was on the town's main street. Before I arrived, I worried that it might be a busy, noisy thoroughfare. It wasn't; instead, Corso G. Matteoti was bustling with pedestrian traffic, which was very pleasant. However, it was also more narrow than I am tall. So when I drove down main street, pedestrians were forced to flatten themselves against the walls of the medieval buildings all along the route. Despite that, there were bigger cars than mine inching along the streets, so I didn't feel like a total cretin.

Bevagna has numerous interesting, medieval churches to see but their art is a bit less accessible -- I wasn't ever able to gain entry to either San Michele, or San Silvestro, two great Romanesque churches that face off across the main Piazza Silvestri. Both were heavily damaged in the 1997 earthquakes and I don't believe they have yet re-opened. (This helps to explain the crane you might have noticed in the top photo of the piazza!)

Here are a few reliefs from the facade of San Michele:
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This outdoor fresco is from the piazza side of San Domenico, which I did enter and found several interesting fresco fragments in its slightly sinister gothic, dark interior:
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Although Bevagna was originally an Etruscan settlement, Roman roots run deep in this town which was once a quite important administrative centre on the Via Flaminia. Known then as Mevania, the Roman town had a theatre, several temples, baths with mosaics, and an amphitheatre, and remains of these are accessible.

I was especially impressed by the mosaics, which are well preserved and readily viewed with a guide from the local museum (spitting distance from my hotel.) However, photos are not allowed so I borrowed the mosaic photo at the top of this entry from Bill Thayer.

Comments (14)

That was a beautifully soothing post to read this afternoon. Thank you! :)

Lots of dramas here with boys and cars.

Thanks so much for another introduction to a place I knew nothing about. Such wonderful old stones. I really want to go to Umbria one of these days thanks to you! And I'm still so impressed with your bravery in driving around off the beaten path.

Love the photo of you and Mary T!

sandrac:

Yikes -- Leslie, that sounds a bit ominous. I hope your grandson isn't getting into trouble with cars!

Annie, thanks -- I really like this photo of Mary and I (taken by her charming son Michael.) I think you would love Umbria and all of its extraordinary art and churches!

Brad'll Do It:

We've committed to putting a small Umrian tour (16, including us) together for next summer, with Genius Loci as our residence (Google "Palmabella's Italy"). Did you eat in the amphitheater restaurant, and if so, what did you think? Also, what was your best lunch and best dinner in Bevagna not at that restaurant?

sandrac:

Hi Brad, before my trip I had read with great interest your plans for Palmabella's Italy, and now that I've seen Genius Loci, I think you've picked a fabulous spot!

I had a wonderful dinner at Octavius, which is right below the Palazzo dei Consoli. It was recommended by Michael at Genius Loci (Mary's son) as his 2nd favourite restaurant in Bevagna. I'm not sure if that's the amphitheatre restaurant you're refering to. Or, you might mean Da Nina's, which has gotten great reviews but I didn't get a chance to get there!

I also had a v. good dinner at Enoteca Piazza Onofri, which is Mary and Michael's favourite restaurant. My only complaint was about service there (which stopped after I was served my main course.) I don't know why. I sat for a full hour after I finished eating, then hunted down my server, paid him on the spot and left. A bit bizarre, but the food and wine were excellent!

I only had lunch in Bevagna once, the day I arrived. My hotel sent me to an excellent new enoteca -- so new they didn't yet have business cards and I forgot to go back! So I don't know it's name, but it's right on Piazza Garibaldi at its furthest point from the city walls. It has a big outdoor deck and it must be in the same building as the famous Roman mosaics because it is only a few steps from the entry to see the mosaics.

sandrac:

Actually, Brad, I think the restaurant you're refering to might be Redibis in the hotel L'Orto Degli Angeli. Another one on my list that I didn't get to!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, wonderful photos. That's a great photo of you and Mary. I agree with Annie, reading your blog entries and hearing about your experiences makes me really want to visit these wonderful towns. I will have to add them to my must see in Italy list.

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful photos and experiences.

I really enjoyed this post. Bevagna is a town I have wanted to visit for years now. I tried to figure out the bus schedule from Spello, but failed miserably. I loved all of your photos. One day I still hope to get there, even more so after reading this post. Are we going to get to see a photo of your car :)

sandrac:

Thanks very much, Kathy, for your kind words. These are lovely towns and it was a delight to meet Mary, who was very generous with her time and ideas.

sandrac:

Girasoli, I should have taken a photo of the car (especially after I scraped it a few times on Bevagna's sharp corners!)

Bevagna is charming, but I can just imagine how difficult it would be to try to travel between these towns without a car.

Maybe we need to coordinate our travel plans to Umbria some time and split the cost of a rental car (hopefully, something a bit smaller and easier to park!)

Dorit:

Sandra,
Thanks for the lovely photos and reminder of our wonderful time a year ago in Bevagna. We also ate at Octavius (three time actually in the week we stayed in Bevagna!) and loved it.

Sounds like a plan!!

sandrac:

Hi Dorit, I remember how highly you recommended the restaurant. And you were also so right about Hotel Brunamonti, it was delightful!

Dorit:

I am so glad my recommendations were on the mark for you in both instances. As I have said before, we seem to have the same taste!! Unfortunately we will not be able to try out the Farnese in Rome this time (since we shall not be there this time), but have it "on my list" for next time!!

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