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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 27 of 31: Sunday 27th September

We had slept fitfully, having promised to be up to say goodbye to Maureen and June who were planning to leave at 8 a.m. We heard a few sounds around 7 and when we went out to check a bit later, Debbie and Roland said they’d left already. There had been some confusion about whether or not it was the end of daylight saving and they’d not wanted to take any chances. Just as well, as we had been misinformed – it was not until a month later that the clocks changed – when we ourselves were caught out on arrival at the station in Milan where their time didn’t match ours!

We’d tried for days to contact Geoff, after having had a note from him placed under our door, and we finally got hold of him only to learn that he wasn’t coming to Perugia this weekend and so we weren’t going to be able to meet up after all. He did however give us a couple of hotel leads for Rome (one of which, Panda, we subsequently booked).

Back at the apartment, Suzanna called in to see what was doing, and we all decided to go on a mystery outing (well, that’s what it became). We thought it might be interesting to try out the Sant’Anna train line which we understood ran to more local places than the main FS station, and although we knew where the Sant’Anna station was, we seemed to have difficulty finding our way there (even with, or perhaps because of, several directions from passers-by). The weather was looking rather ominous and as the station finally hove into view, the rain also became heavier and we hurried down only to find that there were no trains from there on Sundays.

We were now at the wrong end of town, and there seemed to be nothing interesting (or sheltering) around, so we trudged back to Corso Cavour and Suzanna suggested we look in at the nearby Basilica di San Domenico, the largest church in Umbria. It was a very imposing building though rather plain and austere inside, but with a huge and impressive stained glass window.

Adjoining the church was the Museo Archeologico so we dashed in there as the rain became even heavier. It turned out to be a real find with so many separate areas that it was impossible to see it all in one visit. There were interesting timeline displays, many Etruscan coins and jewellery, some beautiful statues and sculptures and beaten bronze plaques. On the upper level we bumped into Bernadette and Bob, then a little further on, Angela and Peter. The doors closed at 1.30, and as we were leaving we met Debbie and Roland who had just arrived.

Bob and Bernadette went on their way while the rest of us decided to dash through the pelting rain to a pasticceria back near Tre Archi for something to eat. We had coffee and pastries, chosen with great difficulty from the sensational selection on show, then Debbie and Roland left – apparently to go to the movies. The rest of us stayed on and we discovered that Angela and Peter also liked the pizzeria on the steps which we’d discovered last week with Margaret, so we all decided to move on there for some proper lunch.

The moment that we stepped out into the street coincided with the heaviest downpour imaginable, but we all kept running, trying to keep close to the walls for what little protection there was till finally we all tumbled into the pizzeria. As we hung our dripping raincoats on hooks we realised that Angela and Peter had not had coats and they looked as though they’d just showered in their clothes. We were most fortunate to find a table about to be vacated which was big enough for the five of us. Angela’s hair continued to drip and her clothes clung to her but she seemed hardly to notice, and we enjoyed our meal, despite a mix-up over Peter’s order of salsicce which was eventually resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

We went our separate ways after lunch (Peter and Angela no doubt keen for a hot shower and some dry clothes). We window-shopped our way back to the centre and then decided to visit the Pozzo Etrusco. As wells go, well… we met some people coming out as we arrived who said it was well worth it (boom boom), so we decided that we might as well (boom boom) but it was rather spooky and when we emerged we didn’t feel too well – ha, ha – no, we felt fine actually. Thirty-five metres deep and five metres wide, the walls were shiny and wet with trickles and there was some very pretty moss growing out of the crevices. Dating from the 3rd century BC, the well is a remarkable monument to Etruscan civilisation.

We learned that our combined entry ticket also included a visit to the Cappella di San Severo which boasted frescoes by Raphael and Perugino – a bit of an anti-climax as there was no access to the church, entry being straight into a very small chapel with Raphael’s fresco, Trinity with Saints (thought to be his first fresco) dominating the space and a few smaller ones by Pietro Vannucci, otherwise known as Perugino, competing for attention.

Arriving home cold and damp, we were happy to stay in for the evening, with some home-cooked pasta and bread and cheese.

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