On Sunday we took the last of our trips, at least the last long trip, that covered three regions of Italy; Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria. We headed towards Rome again and first stop was Bagno di Romagna which is a nice small town famous since Roman times for its thermal baths. Like last year we headed straight for the Roseo Hotel Euroterme which has an excellent indoor-outdoor thermal pool that visitors can use. We paid €15 each for two hours (which includes the time you spend changing before and after) and had a very enjoyable time floating around in the warm mineral rich waters.
A sandwich and drink at the local cafe, a failed attempt to get cash from the towns only ATM and we were on our way to Deruta, another hour or so down the E45 just past Perugia.
Deruta is famous for one thing, maiolica (majolica) ceramics and the shops line both sides of the high street. We wanted to take something home this year and a pretty serving dish for our dining table was on the list. We’ve recently changed our crockery (dinnerware / tableware) from the patterned set we got for our wedding 16 years ago (which refused to break no matter how much we tried!) to a plain white Alessi All-Time collection. The idea now being to fill the middle of the table with a mix of colorful stuff.
We could have spent hours checking out different shops, hearing their stories, negotiating prices, but life is too short. In the first shop was an old man and a lot of pots. The shop went back three or four sections and the further back you went the more expensive things looked. I have trouble making decisions on things like this unless I can get a handle on costs and nothing had a price tag, no doubt because they vary so much depending on the customer. You know you’re in trouble when the owner sidesteps the cost question and gives you tales of how his forefathers have slaved over hot potters wheels since the Middle Ages. By the end we were talking to the whole family; the daughter who spoke English, the old man and his batty wife who smelled like she’d been out back smoking hash and was so unstable that it was only a matter of time before stuff was going to get broken. The daughter’s mobile phone was the only casualty while we were there.
It quickly became clear that the one-off very fancy stuff was more than we wanted to pay at about €120 for one small bowl when a bigger simpler bowl was anywhere between €50-80. The good stuff was also more for collecting and displaying than serving up meat and veg. After a while my wife’s eyes settled on a large long serving plate and two matching smaller ones in a reproduction of a 13th century design, primarily white with blue flowers. The guy suggested a price and then told us his “special price” of €140 for the lot. No doubt we could have got it for less but given the family effort over the centuries we shook hands and walked out with the dishes. Job done.
The pots join the 12 bottles of wine and 4 bottles of olive oil bought from the next door farm and the special pasta from Arezzo as our trophies from this holiday. All we need to find now is the stinky cheese and the fig jam that goes with it and we are done.
From Deruta we went to visit Perugia, the capital of Umbria and strong in culture and education. We like it.
As usual it is on top of a hill. The roads were hard to navigate and parking hard to find. After accidentally driving through the old town, nearly killing half the town or getting the Volvo stuck in a road too thin we finally found a parking space and fired up Mrs Google maps to see how far away from the action we were. As it turns out we were a short walk away but a lovely walk along a path that used to be an ancient aqueduct and cut across the town at first or second floor level before delivering us to the old town and the cathedral.
Perugia looks like someone took a collection of those wooden kids play blocks that have squares, rectangles and arches and just threw them in a jumbled heap. Ancient brickwork bumping into itself at all kinds of strange angles and heights. Hard to navigate but very enchanting.
As this was the night of San Lorenzo’s tears there was plenty of action with music playing in everywhere. As we wandered we caught parts of a classical concert with piano and orchestra, a mainstream band called Chris & Moira and a more edgy group trying to sound like a cross between Nirvana and Kings of Leon but not quite managing either.
Apparently Perugia has a micro-climate and it certainly seemed more pleasant than the stifling heat of, for example, Florence. A lovely breeze blew down the main street making it a comfortable city to wander around after 30C+ daytime temperatures.
We left Perugia around 22:30 and got back to Roncofreddo a couple of hours later.
Today is a relaxing day by the pool, thank goodness!