May 19, 2013 — Ceselli to Arrone
Today ended up being about clothes — clean pilgrim utilitarian, dirty pilgrim utilitarian, and fancy Italian festival.
After we awoke in our Ceselli “agritourismo” (rural guest house) our first task was to check whether our hand-washed clothes had dried overnight. No luck, they were still damp. We’d managed to wash a load of laundry back in Spello, but by now all 2-3 changes of all our clothes were dirty. Our hopes for a washer and dryer at Ceselli were quashed by our host, who told us (standing in his immaculate outfit) that the nearest laundromat is in Trevi, 20 miles away. So we’d washed a few things and set them out to dry overnight, hoping for better luck at tonight’s lodging in Arrone.
Even as we checked our clothes we noticed it was raining outside, so we put off our departure until 9:45, when the rain had let up a bit.
Departing under cloudy skies
We knew today’s track would be quite flat, so we began our walk in good spirits, in spite of the fact we were each wearing dirty clothes. The path followed a quiet gravel road alongside the river all morning,
Along the way we met our first fellow pilgrim in two days — Johann of Holland. He is a well-traveled, older man, walking from somewhere before Assisi, like us to Rome. We said goodbye when the sun became too warm for our raingear and we had to stop for a change of clothes mid-path.
We enjoyed a quick coffee at 11:00 at a small cafe staffed by three older women and then an elegant luncheon (with cloth napkins) at 12:30 in Ferentillo.
I asked our lunch host if the twin ruins opposite each other on the high walls of the gorge were churches or castles. “Castles,” he answered in Italian. “One on each side so people walking through would have to pay taxes.”
As we continued our walk, we came across two Italian pilgrims walking toward us, older women who’d already been to Rome. The phone of the one wearing a parka rang just then and, busy with the distraction they left in a chorus of “Ciao!” and “Arrivederci!” In about 250 meters we found a new women’s North Face baseball cap lying in the path and were certain it belonged to the Italian women, who by now were too far away for us to find easily. So, Jacqueline now has a nice, new hat — a pilgrim blessing.
The valley broadened out as we walked and it was clear the mountains on either side were receding. We knew we would soon be in Arrone, our goal for tonight. We arrived at the upper piazza, where we were directed to an agritourismo below. At the reception desk we were offered a huge, three bedroom, two bath suite for 27 Euros each — the “pilgrim price.” We quickly accepted, then asked the day’s important question: do you have a washing machine? To our delight, the answer was “Yes!” (emphasis mine).
We’d noticed the posting for a Pentecost Sunday evening service at the church in the upper city, so our next question was, “Which dirty clothes shall we wear to church while our other clothes are being washed?” We chose various odd pieces, with and without underwear, and headed to services.
Under the 15th century frescoes of this smallish church were 250 well-dressed Italians enjoying confirmation, with the local bishop presiding in his finest regalia. Several of the men were dressed in the finest Armani. Most women were dressed, made-up and coiffed to kill. Even the kids were scrubbed clean and fitted out in the newest fashions their proud parents could afford.
We in our grimy gear had only the solace of knowing that, like St. Francis whom we were following, we were living a simple life of patience and humility.
Sadly, we learned after our dinner of pizza and profiteroles that the spin cycle of the agritourismo’s washer wasn’t working just right, and our clothes came out of the early evening wash quite wet. Will they be dry in the morning? Let’s hope.