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Report 472: Back to Uni to Learn Italian - A Month in Perugia

By Pamela R from Sydney, Australia, Fall 1998

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Page 20 of 31: Sunday 20th September - Gubbio (Again)

Having forgotten to set our alarm, and still sleeping like logs after our busy day yesterday, we were woken by the doorbell at 9.15. Margaret was on time, as arranged, for another day trip to somewhere, and after quick showers we were soon ready and hastening towards Piazza Partigiani for the 11 o’clock bus to Spello. Our mouths gaped when we emerged from the scala mobile through the Rocca to discover the terminus almost devoid of its usual flurry of blue buses. On closer inspection of the timetables pasted outside the ticket office, we realised we’d misread our timetable and there were very few buses operating on Sundays.

However a bus was due to leave at almost the same time for Gubbio so it took us no time at all to decide that that was where we were going. Although it would be our fourth visit, Margaret hadn’t been to Umbria before and Gubbio was just one of many picturesque places accessible from Perugia.

Margaret was quite discomforted as the long bus negotiated the many sharp bends along the road through the mountains, and we realised that sitting along the high seat at the back of the bus had probably not been a good idea. The perspective from that position was quite alarming at first, and very different from being in the middle, lower section of the coach where we’d sat just a couple of weeks earlier without any concerns. When we could drag our eyes off the road the scenery along the way was absolutely stunning!

Arriving at around 11.45 we guided Margaret around the same route as Simona had guided us two weeks before. After a bit of window shopping, Peter and Margaret continued up to the Piazza dei Consoli, while Pamela stopped to chat to an artist in his studio – a good chance for a bit of language practice.

On the steps of the Palazzo, a wedding party had assembled for photos, and we watched as the bride turned and threw her bouquet over her shoulder to the eagerly waiting signorine. The surprise was that, when it had been caught by a shy young girl, all interest was centred on a young man who was hoisted aloft on the shoulders of his friends and cheered around the square. It seemed he was the boyfriend of the girl who had caught the bouquet and he was apparently the one to be congratulated. She just stood there coyly holding her prize.

On arrival we’d checked out return bus times with our driver – unfortunately the choice was either 2 o’clock or 6.45 – and we decided on the 2 o’clock return as Margaret seemed keen to get the return journey over as quickly as possible. The trip up to Monte Ingino in the funiculare didn’t appeal to her either, so we used the remaining time to visit the duomo, which was being decorated by a couple of young girls – apparently for a harvest festival – with beautiful flowers along the aisle ends of the pews. Down at Piazza Quaranta Martiri we just caught our bus and were soon heading back into the hills again, but this time sitting in the body of the bus from where the bends really didn’t seem so bad at all.

From the bus station in Perugia we walked up past the Chiesa di Sant’Ercolano, an unusual church – rather gaudy looking, small and round, its height out of all proportion to its width. Musicians were setting up for this evening’s organ recital. Continuing up the steep steps towards the top of town we realised we were starving, having not had time to eat in Gubbio. Happily there was a small pizzeria around the next bend and although it was late Pamela dived in and established that they would still serve us with some lunch.

It seemed to be only family still sitting around one long table, with the TV on a shelf high on the far wall gushing out some dreadful music. However the woman, no doubt the owner, in white apron and cap and covered in flour, was quite simpatica and after taking our orders and setting us up at a newly laid table, she frowned and turned off the TV (no-one else seemed to notice!) and smiled approvingly at us. We had great pizzas and when we spilled out onto the marble steps again, we completely overlooked the fact that we would have then been just in time for the 5 o’clock recital at Sant’Ercolano.

We were all pretty tired so we left Margaret at her hotel and took a late but much-needed siesta. Much, much later, we awoke with Pamela feeling hungry again so we popped around to Brizi for a bowl of pasta which was just perfect. We’ve taken to this trattoria – it’s reasonably intimate, quite friendly, well priced, very convenient and the food, especially from the charcoal grill, is excellent.

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