Posts Tagged With: Italian

The Way of St. Francis: Mountaintop surprise

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Three carryoncouple posts in one day, you ask? Probably too many, but please forgive our enthusiasm. The Way of St. Francis just gave us another reason to celebrate.

After yet another climb, we reached our accommodation Saturday afternoon on an isolated mountaintop with sweeping views of Umbrian valleys. We were welcomed to the Casalotto Francescano like family. Our en suite room is part of a building below the two-story main house.

We tidied up and shared a bottle of very nice white wine from our kitchen while sitting outside, watching clouds march by and trees bend in the breeze. We took turns telling about our favorite parts of the trek and the biggest surprises.

Soon it was time for dinner. Our host, Luca, a firefighting helicopter pilot who has traveled the world, delivered his mama’s finest.  Zucchini and eggs never tasted so good. Salad, marinara penne pasta, parmesan, superb red wine, and fresh strawberries. All marched down from the main house, just for the two of us.

Luca was celebrating (we hope), too, because he said we are the first Americans to stay here. Tomorrow, we face a particularly difficult trekking day to Valfabbrica. But the gratitude we pack will lighten our load.

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: All smiles in Italy

 

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Our hotel lobby has the perfect answer for visitors to Gubbio who want the selfie without leaving the building. This city of 33,000, with most buildings dating to the 14th and 15th centuries, is a wonderful maze of alleys and passageways that author/philosopher Hermann Hesse loved to explore. A medieval church is never more than a shout away.

On our way here, we enjoyed getting to know a family from Paris who is walking a section of the Way of St. Francis. They are Gildas and Geraldine with their 23-year-old son Gregoire. Their engaging conversation helped us conquer some steep climbs Thursday without noticing the pain. Gregoire is a political science major studying at a Paris university. He is every teacher’s dream student. He knows so much and wants to learn even more.

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The Way of St. Francis: On the 7th day, we rested

 

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Our journey through the Umbrian mountains the past two days has provided stunning beauty, fascinating history and nearly constant trekking challenges.

The 4th century church Pieve di Saddi (shown from the outside and inside) stands miles from any village. Caretakers welcomed us to picnic on the grounds and to tour the inside. A family of three, fellow trekkers from Paris, joined us for delightful conversation during lunch. (More about them in our next post.)

We spent last night in Pietralunga, bottom photo. We dined in a fantastic pizzeria, along with pilgrims from Italy, France and Canada.

Now, for those of you who like tracking numbers: six days on the Way of St. Francis, 80 miles under foot, 25,022 feet of ups and downs.

All of which lands us in Gubbio, a city worthy of a day of rest. (Although we will spend it exploring on our tired feet, but we can’t resist.)

 

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The Way of St. Francis: Chiusi della Verna

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The sleepy village of Chiusi Della Verna awoke to brilliant sunshine today, Friday. We started with pastry, strong coffee (yum!), tangerines and packaged toast and jam downstairs in the hotel Bellavista, in photos above. Our room’s small window shows a burst of early spring.

We are pausing in this village, dating to the 13th century, to get our time-zone footing before our first steps on the Way of St. Francis on Saturday. The village, at nearly 4,000 feet in Tuscany east of Florence, is dominated by stone buildings with red tile roofs. The monastery and chapel stand on the mountaintop behind us.

We have yet to hear a word of English from the friendly locals, who have smiled with question marks in their eyes when we speak Italianish.

At a tiny market around the corner (most corners here are hairpins), we bought cheese by using our fingers to show how much we wanted. We greeted two wiry Austrians, who carried huge backpacks, as they began another day on their trek from Florence to Rome.

We already have a sense that this is a trail few travel, if we compare it to our other treks in Europe. We shared a restaurant last night with three other hiking couples, including the Austrians we  saw this morning. As far as we know, the eight of us make up the pilgrim total here, one of the most important stops on the Way of St. Francis. All appeared beyond working age. We had a nice chat in English with two other Austrians.

Later today, we look forward to visiting the monastery and historic churches, but the stone path will be a steep challenge. Peaceful is the word of the day.

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Backroads Across America: RVing in Las Vegas

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Yep, we are RVing on the Las Vegas Strip near this clown! (I didn’t mean it that way.) After two long days on the windy roads, we needed a walk down the Strip to the Venetian, where we had wine and a meal that would have made a Tuscan chef proud. So much for saving money by cooking in the trailer.

 

 

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Learning Any New Language Is Foreign to Us!

Conventional wisdom says travelers should learn a few basic words in the native language for convenience and to show respect. I think this is true, so here are some Italian terms we found useful:

First, I found many Italians spoke English as soon as I tried my Italian. My theory was that they were proud that they knew English. Sue disagreed; she thought they wanted to avoid hearing any further assault on their beloved tongue.

Unmini (men's room): Sue learned this on our last day, after-the-fact.

Per favore (please), grazie (thank you).

Buon giorno (good morning, good day), buona sera (good evening). I had trouble here because I could not figure out when sera began. I once said something like buon giorno and was greeted with (I hope!) buona sera at 3 p.m.

In Italy, this pizza and calzone are each meant for one!

Arrivederci (goodbye), ciao (hello or so long, familiar)

Stazione (train station). Centrale (central). In big cities that have several stations, such as Florence, it helps to know which station is best for you. Stazione Centrale put us in the right place most of the time, but not in Florence.

Autobus (bus).

Parli Inglese? (Do you speak English?)

Prego (Our book says it means “you are welcome,” but it is used for more basics. Servers used it to tell us they were ready to take our order, for example.)

No need to know: Sono Americano (I am American.) They know that before you speak, whether you are in London, Beijing, or Rome.

Mi scuse (excuse me)

Si and no.

We didn't know many of these, but it would help to know some food words. Kinds of meat, sauces, vegetables, milk, juice, salad, etc. Or have them in your phone or on a cheat sheet. Many menus have English, but stores usually do not. Some menu items are not traditional American fare. Or, be adventurous! A few times, I wasn't sure, but it all tasted good.

Dov'e il bagno? (Where is the bathroom?) In cities, carry some change for public restrooms. Prices usually range from 50 cents to one euro.

You can see this is a very short list. We got by with these and often did not need to know them. We welcome your suggestions.

We try to remember to be ready to laugh at ourselves. Sometimes sense of humor is the most difficult thing to pack everywhere. We often tell each other that we will never see these people again, so it is alright to make mistakes. This did not work so well in Scotland because we have great friends there who remember our miscues, and they still get a good laugh at our expense! Don't worry, I won't mention any names, Trish!

 

Categories: Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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