I’ve now been writing and editing my walking guidebook, The Way of St. Francis, for five days solid and thought I might share some additional examples of life at my temporary hangout in this charming town of Perugia. I’m coming to love it very much and will miss its warmth and charm in three weeks when I leave. When I do leave I will have completed the entire first draft of the book.
The writing and editing are going well. Essentially I’m changing my dictation transcriptions — painstakingly typed from voice recordings made during each walking stage — into actual book chapters that contain walking directions for each stage. By tomorrow morning I’ll complete my first draft on the walking stages I’ve already finished — 22 of 29 total. Then I’ll hit the road and walk or re-walk the remaining stages, returning to Casa Sandy each night to write and edit the day’s results. The process is a little tedious as I reconstruct some of the transcriptions that are now a month old, but at least my notes became increasingly specific and much more helpful the farther I walked last month.
So, when I’m not writing I’m simply enjoying life here in this town of 150,000 or so inhabitants. My daily routine in Perugia is simple: each morning after completing a chapter I walk to the grocery store to pick up the day’s supplies, carrying my cloth grocery sack. Afterward I return to my apartment and write some more, and when I’m done with that I write some more. This month there’s a nightly organ concert at the cathedral, so that becomes the highlight of each day. But the second best thing is my daily walk to the store.
Today is Saturday, so people are strolling about or having a slow coffee at an outdoor cafe, enjoying the coolness of the morning before the sun makes everything a little too warm. For fun, I decided to take a photo every 50 steps of my walk to the grocery store so others could see what my neighborhood is like. The results are in the gallery below.
This walk highlights for me what makes these medieval towns so wonderful — they are human scale, mostly free of cars and even mostly free of bikes. Back in the U.S. there are very few places where you can take a 15 minute walk to the store, pass restaurants, shops and churches, and never cross an automobile road.
More quotidian details: today I’ll have pasta for lunch at my apartment, so I bought a fresh loaf of bread, some fruit and, anticipating completion of the first stage of my book, I found a bottle of Sicilian limoncello to celebrate. That’s enough to last me a year, but what is Italy without an evening glass of that delightfully sweet, tart digestivo?
If I may say so, please, try to bracket your shots–if you know what I mean. That way perhaps your foregrounds will not be too dark. Thank you.
There are programmes for your iPhone that can turn speech into text for you automatically. If you look up in the Apple Store under the name of “Nuance,” you will see a whole bunch of them. Then you could sit back with your Sicilian Limoncello and enjoy the UFO’s in the night while your speech magically turns into text! You could even let your iPhone read the text for you as well.
God bless you intimately.
I could AE lock these exposures, but since they’re just snapshots I didn’t take any extra time — too busy counting, “one, two, three….forty-nine, fifty. ‘Click.'”
Sorry, I forgot that you had a dedicated camera for pictures! When is your guidebook going to be published?
I am anxious to find out if the guidebook is available yet, as I am extremely interested in making this trek on my next visit to Italy to visit family in Rome and other parts. I want to take my father’s ashes to his father’s home town in Piumerola, a small village in the valley below Mountecassino (where my great grandfather was a cook for the monetary).
But I haven’t skipped ahead yet, rather taking your blog one page at a time.
Please indulge me while I relay a memoir of my short visit to Perugia.
I remember Perugia well – the Coop, the concert in the church (standing room only, we couldn’t get in past the vestibule). We stayed at Hotel Fortuna, but finding our way into the centro storico was a fiasco. We kept driving up this narrow, wall hugging road that our GPS insisted was the route to the hotel, but we kept going in circles. Each time we got to the place where we should have been able to go straight, there was a three foot round concrete column blocking the way.
In frustration, we stopped to park at the Tre Archi. Here my memory fails me. I don’t know if Tre Archi is the name of the arches by the city entrance or the restaurant where we ate. A quick google search now leads me to a hotel in Perugia. Anyway, we decided we would stop for lunch, decompress, and tackle our search with renewed vigor and temperance. Of course, we were on American time in an Italian world.
Looking around once we got out of our vehicle, and a few minutes of trying to be sure we understood the protocol of the parking lot requirements, I spotted a gentleman in front of a restaurant. We headed in his direction only to find that the restaurant was closed between lunch and dinner, and we had arrived in that time frame. I then explained to him our frustration and if he could help us understand what we were doing wrong in approaching our destination.
At this point he told us to come on into the terrace, and he started taking chairs off of the tables and setting one up for the five of us. I was traveling with my elderly parents, sister, and daughter. We told him we were passing a few days in Perugia before heading to our cousin’s wedding in Roma.
I did not realize he was the owner until later, but he then proceeded to ask us what we would like to eat, giving us some suggestions from his offerings. My father loves bacacala, so that was the dish I remember most, along with the gnocchi. He took our orders, prepared our meals, served us, and helped us make some phone calls to the Hotel Fortuna, and sat down to talk with us about our journey. It was a most delightful day in June, 2005.
I know I’ve begun to ramble, so let me finish. Once we left and began our new fortified approach up the winding road to the point where we kept getting dumbfounded, we stopped just long enough to analyze and while we hesitated, a gentleman saw our confusion and pointed to a large button imbedded in the stone wall. We had to get out to press the button, and to what did our wondering eyes appear, but the stone column barricade receded into the pavement and we were allowed to pass into the city center! There is so much joy in the smallest of triumphs! But what a wonderful day we had because of our mishap.
Thank you for listening.
Thanks for your charming story about Perugia. I loved the 2 months I spent there last summer. Bookwise, we’ll see “The Way of St. Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome” in September of this year. Stay tuned!