Italy in November

26th October – 1st November

We arrived in Sacile around 11, so we packed our lunch and walked into this lovely little town which is formed by two islands standing amid the willow-lined Livenza river and a network of canals. Sacile took much of its early architectural inspiration from Venice, which is reflected in the Venetian townhouses and palazzo that line the tranquil little waterways. We visited the Duomo with its frescoed altar before strolling to the park to eat our lunch. We decided to move on to the next spot, and we had a great drive winding our way through the mountains to Lago Di Santa Groce (lake) where we were hoping to stay the night at a free aire. Not free anymore and as we know we can get a good wildcamp spot almost anywhere, we continued on for a of couple of kilometres to a spot just near the Tesa river which flows into the the lake. We have views to the mountains in front of us and the rushing waters of the river to our side.

So pretty, Sacile

So pretty, Sacile

After breakfast, we donned our hiking boots and headed out for a short 6km walk, along the river, through a small forest area with a lookout tower to the bird sanctuary and Lago Di Santa Groce. We passed the caravan park near the lake which was closed for winter but in a really nice spot with a large area in front of it that would be well used in the summer. Back to Tilly and a short drive to our next town, Belluno which is perched on high bluffs above the Piave river and backed by the majestic Dolomites. The historical old town is only small and is filled with Renaissance-era buildings. We wandered through the streets visiting the early-16th-century Renaissance Catedrale di San Martino, which like the other cathedrals we have visited to date was very wide and the altar full of biblical frescoes. Several palaces and two town gates from the 16th century were also visited before we had a nice lunch in one of the restaurants near the square. Once home, we got the chairs out and sat in the sunshine at the park across from our overnight spot for awhile before the chill in the air had us moving inside.

The markets were in full swing when we arrived in Feltre, 20kms from Belluno. A picturesque walled town surrounded by the Dolomites blends Middle Ages buildings with Venetian style frescoed buildings. We visited the cathedral before making our way up to the old town where we wandered the cobbled streets. The old town was in the walled area above overlooking the Piazza Maggiore. The markets were full of people mainly purchasing flowers and not just one bundle, some people were carrying three or four. The remainder of the day was spent reading.

Market day

Market day

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A 2.5km walk up to the “Pearl of Veneto” Asolo one of the most beautiful and enchanting small-sized historic centre in Italy is how the tourist brochure described this town and they were spot on. Dating back to the first century BC this lovely town has several monuments, the most notable is La Rocca, an austere fortress atop Mt Rico which overlooks the Asolan hills and the old town centre. The climb up to the fortress was quite steep with a couple of hundred stairs to reach the top. We walked along the wall with spectacular views all around. We also visited the cathedral, again adorned with frescoes and Piazza
Girabaldi which was a tidy square with a centuries old fountain. From our visit to the castle the views were of very expensive villas that hugged the side of the hill. We had our lunch in the square before our walk back. We continued on to our next stop, Montebelluna where we will stay for the night. We had a walk into town, mainly to look for a laundry and a phone shop as our iPhone charger broke. Success with both, and another couple of kilometres walked under our belts.

The view from the castle back to Asolo

The view from the castle back to Asolo

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Laundry done we headed to our next destination of Treviso. The drive was uneventful and we arrived at our overnight spot to find a lot of other motorhomes parked. The aire is free and not too far from town so it’s no wonder it is popular. We ventured out after lunch for a walk around the old town wall which is amazingly in tact. Surrounding most of the old town is a moat where in some places it is a double moat. There was an island in one particular spot where rabbits and chooks ran free and the city had installed rabbit hutches and chicken coops, a great idea. Being such a beautiful day, what started out as a small walk ended up with us walking the whole way round, a distance of about 6km. Back to the aire to sit under the trees and relax. At around 3.30, the aire which is a mixed carpark started to fill up. By 4.15 it was bursting at the seams so we asked a couple of people if there was something going on in town that we didn’t know about. Apparently it is a weekly thing that on Sundays, locals come into town to wander the streets and more so yesterday because it was such a nice day. Two hours later the carpark emptied again.

One of the old town gates

One of the old town gates

31st October 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

What a lovely town Treviso is. There are many canals that run through the old town which made for a really nice atmosphere. We spent the morning wandering the streets, visiting the cathedral, the crypts and a few of the other churches. There was a fountain in a courtyard called Fontaine del Tette (Fountain of Tits) where three times a year, white wine comes out of one nipple and red wine out of the other and people can drink the wine. Sadly today it was just water! Many of the interiors of the buildings we visited were covered with frescoes and there were lots of signs around the old town which gave detailed descriptions in Italian and English of the buildings history. We had our first pizza and a glass of red wine in the square before heading home.

Fountain of Tits

Fountaine del Tette

Only a short drive today to Mogliano which is 14kms from Venice. We have found a nice wildcamp spot near what once was a swimming centre and took a walk into town. Today is a public holiday in Italy, All Saints Day so all of the shops were closed but we wanted to check out the timetable for the train or bus to Venice tomorrow. We popped in to the cathedral for a quick peek before asking a young lady at the bus stop about times, cost etc for the trip into Venice. We also went to the train station and decided we would train in as it was cheaper and the trains ran more frequently. Back to Tilly for lunch and mid afternoon we went out for another walk to stretch our legs, this time along the river for a couple of kilometres before coming home again.

2nd November – 8th November

We woke to foggy overcast skies which wasn’t ideal for our trip into Venice and we were hoping for sunshine later in the morning. Our train trip only took 15 minutes and we arrived at Venezia St Lucia station at 9.15. Our first and only set destination was the Basilica di San Marco. The queue to get into the Basilica wasn’t too long, we only waited 20 minutes which was more than enough time for Dave to put our backpack into the locker room. When we were in Venice 7 years ago, we were shunted through the Basilica like sheep however this time we were free to roam for as long as we wanted. We admired the mosaics all around the building with some made from 24 carat gold leaf fused onto the glass. In behind the main altar containing St Mark’s sarcophagus is an altar panel studded with 2000 emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, pearls and other gemstones which portrays his life and is a Byzantine masterpiece. From there we roamed the streets past
Marble palaces, teal waters with gondoliers calling for business and golden domes atop many of the beautiful buildings. Lots of markets filled the streets as well as street vendors selling Venetian masks, bags and t-shirts, all of the usual tourist stuff. Murano glass was on sale in some of the shops and there were many stunning pieces. We had our lunch in Piazza San Marco people watching while we ate. We walked over the Rialto bridge and continued through the maze of streets that make Venice what it is and after 5 hours of walking, we only touched the surface. Still it was a very enjoyable day even if the sun didn’t make an appearance.

San Marco square

San Marco square

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The sun today was shining on our journey to Montegrotto Terme, which is 13kms from Padova and a natural hot spring resort area. The springs have been active since Roman times and there is a large area in town where the ruins of the Roman baths can be found. We came here for two reasons, one was to do a hike and the second because of its proximity to Padova by train. We decided against staying at the aire in Padova due to some poor reviews, specifically about safety. Once parked near where we were hiking, we packed our lunch and headed up to Monte Alto (a small mountain) hoping to find some roman ruins along the way, which we didn’t. The hike was quite steep in parts and we passed olive groves and grape vines before coming to a nice forest area with lots of oak trees and tree ferns where we stopped for lunch. Another couple of kilometres had as back at our starting point. We moved to the aire in town near the train station and spent the remainder of the day relaxing as we have walked a lot of kilometres in the past two days.

4th November – Happy birthday Riss 🎂🎂🎂🎉🎉🎉

We had a sunny day for our trip into Padova. We had a quick look at the ruins of the Roman baths on our way to the train station. A 12km train ride at 145kmh and we were there in just on 10 minutes. Our big day of walking started with us following the tram line into Piazza della Erbe where one of the many markets is held, this one selling fruit and vegetables. Apparently the produce is tiered in regards to quality with the less choice produce on the outer perimeter and the better stalls are near Palazza della Ragione. We stopped for a coffee before continuing on to the Piazza della Frutta market where all types of clothing are sold. We spent over 5 hours walking around this beautiful town, visiting the Duomo and the adjoining 13th century baptistry which is full of frescoes with biblical scenes. We had our lunch in the Prato della Valle, the largest square in Italy. Previously an ancient roman theatre, it was restructured in 1775 to include 78 statues of artists, popes, poets and saints poised on a circular wall and a canal within, which today had an otter swimming in it! Next on the list was Basilica di Sant’Antonio, a key pilgrimage site and the burial place of patron saint St Anthony of Padua. Rising domes atop a Gothic brick structure are crammed with Renaissance treasures. The Capella del Tesoro is where the relics of St Anthony reside (his chin and his tongue!) and in the Cappella del Santo, his tomb is covered with requests and thanks for the saint’s intercession in curing illness and recovering lost objects. The chapel itself is lined with nine panels vividly depicting the story of Anthony’s life in extraordinary relief sculptures. The whole building was an art gallery with so many beautiful statues and paintings, it was probably one of the most ornate large basilicas we have visited so far in Italy.

Prato

Prato Della Valle

It was a very wet and miserable day today so we had a change of plan, drive some, do the shopping and drive some more. We were heading towards Verona and we passed two accidents, both rear enders where thankfully it looked like no one was seriously injured. Shopping done, wallet emptied, we continued to our next stop at Soave. For the first time in over a month, we paid for an aire, €5 per night with all services including electricity and wifi. What a luxury to have more than one light on at a time! This town is entirely encircled by medieval fortifications including 24 watchtowers and we are hoping the weather will be better tomorrow so we can hike up to the castle and have a good look around.

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It was still raining when we woke this morning so we decided to have a very lazy day. Dave cleaned the solar panels and roof in the rain while I spent an hour and a half talking to my sister, and that was after chatting to Larissa and Daniel. We did venture out later in the morning under umbrellas to find out about the bus into Verona tomorrow but apart from that, we stayed indoors. The rain did eventually stop and the mistiness over the castle disappeared. What an awesome sight.

The misty morning cleared to sunny blue skies for our bus trip into Verona which took almost an hour. Surprisingly bigger than we though, this city is another one to just wander the streets. We visited many places on our walk today, Piazza Brà where the Roman Arena is, built in the 1st century BC and still used today for live concerts, especially opera. We had a coffee in Piazza delle Erbe which is bordered by many palaces before making our way to the Basilica of Sant’ Anastasia. The interior of the church is gothic in style and contains many artistic masterpieces and altars. Across the river and up the hill to the Roman theatre and a handful of ruins before returning to town for lunch. We visited the Duomo (Verona Cathedral) and saw a mosaic floor nearby that dates back to the 2nd century. Of course you can’t come to Verona and not visit Juliet’s house with its famous balcony. Across the lane from the house is a shop which sells all things Romeo and Juliet including magnets, locks, cups etc. however we did manage to keep the wallet in our pockets! We did walk to where Juliet’s tomb is housed but we didn’t venture inside. Back to the bus stop and our journey home after another big day of walking. Once back in Soave, we walked around the perimeter walls of the old town on our way home. A very enjoyable day in what is called “The city of love”.

Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo!

Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo!

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8th November – 14th November

Another sunny day and a drive of around 70kms to our next stop Castleguglielmo. There is nothing here but a very small town, however the aire is free and it is a break in our journey to Ferrara, which we will complete tomorrow. The aire has a great setup with electricity, water etc and there is room for 10 motorhomes, each having their own water tap, electricity plug and room to put out your awning. They do have wifi, however it wasn’t working while we were here. We had a walk around town (which took about 10 minutes and that was with a stop at the supermarket!). We have a view over the fields that have been ploughed ready to plant. The remainder of the day was pottering around, me doing a spot of cleaning and Dave doing a service on the water pump.

Upon arrival in Ferrara about 30kms away, we headed for the old town which is inside 9km of intact medieval walls. We picked up a map from the tourist office and commenced our mapped walk of the medieval centre starting at the castle. Once the home of the Este family it now houses a museum and government offices. We continued on to the cathedral which dates from the 12th century with the interior having been redesigned through the 16th – 18th centuries. Statues, religious paintings and frescoes adorn the walls and we caught glimpses of the roof paintings which are netted off due to renovations. The remainder of the medieval walk had us visiting many piazzas, one in particular was where the Christmas markets were being constructed, past the old Jewish quarter and a couple more of the Romanesque churches. On the way home, we had a walk around the lake in the park which is just outside the old wall. We spent the remainder of the afternoon waiting for our son Daniel to call to announce the arrival of our grandson.

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10th November – 👶👶👶🎉🎉🎉

Walter Lionel Boaden was born at around 12.45am Perth time from what we can gather. We received the phone call just after 6pm last night our time (7 hours behind Perth) from Daniel who was very excited but very tired. Mum and baby are great, no measurements yet as the doctor was still with them. Nothing written today will surpass that news, but here we go anyway. Our morning was spent walking around the 9km of wall which is in amazing condition in some places. Remains of several covered waterways were visible as well as some of the many towers. We stopped at McDonalds along the way to get our first look of our grandson who of course is beautiful and had lunch back at Tilly before driving 85kms to just outside of Modena. Our overnight spot is next to a large park with a copse of autumn coloured trees to our left. Not sure if there is a major bushfire nearby but it is quite smoky, so we will stay indoors and rest in preparation for our trip into Modena in the morning.

First stop in Modena for a bit of shopping was the Maserati showroom. Unfortunately we had left the cheque book at home! Found a couple of nice his and her cars if we decide to go back there. The walk in from there took about 15 minutes and we arrived at the Piazza Grande and the Modena Cathedral. Of Romanesque design, the interior is very dark with the Gothic Rose window that lets in rays of light when the sun is out. The Torre Ghirlandina adjoins the cathedral and is an 87m tower that can be climbed for views over the town. Both buildings are being constantly monitored as they are being affected by subsidence and have obvious leans, not quite Pisa but easy to spot with the tower being the worst of the two. We wandered the streets passing some beautiful buildings before stopping at a small church whose interior was being used as a shop selling Christmas trees all brightly lit and ornaments of glass, wood and ceramics. We had a nice lunch of pasta and chianti at the Cafe Grand just near the square before the bitterly cold wind and rain had us scurrying home.

It's crooked!

It’s the leaning tower of Modena! Torre Ghirlandina

The ancient lion (not the one standing!)

The ancient lions (not the one standing!)

 

Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande

The beautiful cathedral

The beautiful cathedral

We took a small detour on our journey to Bologna as we wanted to do a hike. Dave had found a review for a free aire through Camper contact that was in the Natural reserve of Salse Di Nirano so we decided to head there. After making our lunch, we plotted a circular route that would take us up to the ridge line of a small peak (380m) through some farmland and back down the other side. There was nothing written about this reserve in either Triposo or Lonely Planet so we were not really sure what to expect. A few hundred metres or so into the beginning of our hike, we came across these unusual mounds that looked like small volcanic peaks. On further investigation (after reading the info boards) we found that they were mud volcanoes, all active with bubbles of mud erupting not only at the top but down the sides and from spots at ground level too. What a find! There were five in total in the area we were in and more on the other side of the peak which unfortunately we couldn’t find the path for. Not always active, we were so lucky to see them. Continuing on up a steepish incline, we had views across the valley to the snow covered Appenine mountains. We stopped near a winery to have our lunch with views across the valley of the red grape vines common in this area. Due to all of the rain yesterday, we decided against walking back along the river and opted for the panorama trail instead. The landscape included a range of small peaks of similar geology to the mud volcanoes with obvious areas of landslides along the front. We passed the ruin of a large house on the hillside on the final leg of our hike and spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting in the sunshine.

Mud volcano

Mud volcano

We set off on a very cold morning -2.5° towards our destination of Bologna. We stopped along the way to fill up with water at a mini race track where men were racing their formula one model cars on a track that was set up exactly like a real one. It had an area for the pits, mechanical and tyre modification and a computerised leaderboard, they even ran these cars on racing fuel. We watched for a little while, with some of the cars clocking over 100km an hour on the straight. The men racing them had amazing control over their machines, it was great to see. We were in two minds as to whether we should stop in Bologna but after reading up on it, we decided to take a look. We drove to a carpark in the suburb of San Lazzaro Di Savena where we will stay the night and catch the train into Bologna in the morning. We took a walk to the train station for details of times and cost, €1.50 each one way for a 6km journey with frequent trains. Now to do a bit more reading about where to go and what to see.

Sometimes life throws surprises at you that aren’t expected and Bologna was one of them, a must see destination. Once off the train, we headed towards Piazza Maggiore passing terracotta medieval buildings adorned with kilometres of porticoes. Bologna cathedral, dedicated to St Peter was our first stop and what an impressive building. A grand and majestic interior of Baroque design, the artwork, statues and frescoes were just beautiful. We have been very fortunate to see some wonderful cathedrals and basilicas and this was up there with the best of them. We also visited the San Petronio Basilica which has an exterior that was never finished however it is the largest church built in bricks in the world and like St Peters was full of statues, frescoes and artworks. We continued on to our next stop, the Two Towers, the Asinelli Tower (97 m) and the Garisenda Tower (48 m) which are the landmark of the city. The Garisenda tower was originally 60m tall but due to ground settlement (it has a 3.2m tilt) it was cut down for safety reasons and as you would expect is heavily monitored. The leaning tower of Pisa’s tilt is 3.9m. The Asinelli tower can be climbed by going up 500 steps, however as the weather was very wet and overcast, we decided against it. Our last stop was at the Basilica Di San Domenico, the founder of the Domenican order whose remains lie in an elaborate sarcophagus covered with ornate marble carvings, his head is housed in a gold reliquary at the base. Having seen so many churches, we spent the remainder of our time in Bologna walking the streets before returning home on the train.

15th November – 21st November

We had a nice drive of around 70kms in the sunshine to our next destination of Ravenna, arriving at lunchtime. We had a walk around the nice park area where we are parked before making our way to the castle ruins just outside of town. Many information boards in Italian and English were scattered around the area which provided us with a history of the castle and the town in the 16th century.

We spent a few hours walking around the town of Ravenna. Sadly a lot of the Unesco sites are tied up by having to purchase a combined ticket to enter 5 of the sites and not ones for paying to see a church, we were limited in what was available. Not to let that upset our day, we did get to see the Battistero degli Ariani (baptistry) that houses a beautiful dome mosaic depicting the baptism of Christ. We stopped at the Tomba Di Dante, a mausoleum which houses the bones of Dante Alighieri, Italy’s Sommo Poeta (supreme poet). He was expelled from the city of his birth Florence in 1302 for political reasons and spent many years ‘on the run’. He finally sought refuge in Ravenna, where he died in 1321. As a perpetual act of penance, Florence still supplies the oil for the lamp that burns continually in his tomb. Just outside of his mausoleum is a garden which contains a plaque that is positioned where his bones were laid for safe keeping during the war. We had a bite to eat in town before driving 12kms to the marina/port area, where we will stay the night. We had a walk out along the harbour breakwater which is 3kms in length, past many fisherman. There was also a number of buildings built on posts in the water where huge nets were suspended to be dropped into the water. We don’t know what type of fish they were designed to catch, but we watched two of them being hauled in and they were both empty! A beautiful sunset with a bright pink sky finished our day before another chilly night.

Dante's final resting place

Dante’s final resting place

We drove about 45kms to the town of Cervia for a look around as the lady in the tourist office in Ravenna said how nice it was, but limited parking had us continuing on. We did get a bit of a look along the canal area while driving out of it as we headed to Pinarella, a major beach resort town on the 40km strip of Adriatic beaches in this area. We packed our lunch and took off for a walk along the beach. Huge walls of sand have been put up to stop winter erosion and all along the beachfront were cafes, restaurants, change rooms for hire and toilets that were also boarded up for winter. There were a few people out walking in the sunshine but apart from a group of adults waiting to pick up their children from school, the place was like a ghost town. All of the shops in town were closed, hotels boarded up as were the holiday rental apartments. The only other place we saw people was at the heated pool where we are parked for the night. A quick check of prices and at €6.30 each for a swim we decided against it, showers were extra!

A sea mist rolled in during the night and stayed with us the whole way to Rimini, about 25kms away. We arrived in Rimini just before lunch so we had a bite to eat and then walked in a light rain to town through the park The first landmark we came across is Arco di Augusto (arch of Augustus). This great Roman ruin was commissioned by Emperor Augustus in 27 BC and stands 17m high and is in remarkably good condition for its age. It was once the end point of an ancient road that linked Rimini with Rome. As it was lunchtime, all the shops were closed (you would think we would have learnt by now!) but we still wandered the streets, stopping in Piazza Cavour where the city’s two finest palazzos stand, both originally built in the 16th century and reconstructed after WWII but closed to the public. The next landmark was the Ponte di Tiberio, a majestic five-arched Tiberius’ Bridge that dates from AD 21 and was the start of the arterial Roman road. It still links the city centre to the old fishing quarter and rests on its original foundations consisting of an ingenious construction of wooden stilts. The rain had become heavier so we decided to head home back through the park, past Rimini’s congress hall which is shaped like a giant round spaceship.

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19th November – Happy 2nd Birthday Eleanor 🎂🎂🎂🎉🎉🎉👼🏻👼🏻👼🏻

A very quiet day today. We did the food shopping before continuing onto San Marino, a short drive of 20kms. The weather was wet and a heavy fog hung over the mountain, so not much good for anything, particularly when one of the features of San Marino are the views down the coast. Spent the remainder of the day relaxing and hoping for better weather tomorrow.
The rain held off for our trip up to Città di San Marino although there was a heavy fog in the valley. San Marino is a sovereign state and is the oldest surviving republic. The city of San Marino sits 750 metres above sea level on Monte Titano, it has the lowest unemployment in Europe and one of the highest GDP’s. There are two options to get to the top, either by cable car or to walk up a steep incline, in places with a 25% gradient. We chose to walk! We had some great views back down to the foggy valley on our way up which took about 30 minutes. There are two castles at the very top, each on its own peak and our walk there took us through the medieval streets of this very old town. Absolutely geared for tourism because of its duty free status, the shops along the way were selling San Marino wines, Italian leather, jewellery, perfume, alcohol and surprisingly a large number of shops were selling weapons. Cross-bows, swords and guns of all descriptions (they looked real) as well as pepper sprays, BB guns, hand cuffs, grenades, we are still scratching our heads as to why???? The fog had cleared somewhat when we reached the castles and the view across the valley to the hills was just lovely. On a clear day in the other direction you can see out to the Adriatic and back to Rimini, but not today. We had our lunch on the way back down admiring the view as we ate. We stopped at the local market near the bottom, this one selling all sorts. No food, but old records, gramophones, old medals, more guns (these were real), old phones, old irons. There was even a stand that sold coloured pencils, ink fountain pens, all in mint condition, took me back to my school days. One of the stands sold brand new barbie dolls, with many different outfits, there was even a container full of barbie shoes and boots!

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We tend to steer clear of the autostrada and stick to secondary roads. Today we took a tertiary road on our travels to Urbino, 70kms from San Marino. Did we make the right choice? Absolutely. The scenery along the way was just beautiful. We travelled through hills with rolling greens all around. We could see San Marino and Rimini in the distance behind us and many castles on the hillsides. We drove through a number of little towns where the residents jaws dropped on seeing us in our motorhome, we don’t think it was a major tourist route! Urbino as well as being a renaissance town is a university town and the parking situation confirmed it. Our first aire that Dave had picked was not only full, but on quite a steep slope and we are scratching our heads as to why it got such a good rating on Camper contact although it is very close to town. Second choice (we always have one) had us driving back down the hill from the old town to our current overnight spot, just near the sports ground and on reasonably flat pitches. We did venture out for a bit of a walk before coming back and lapping up the lovely sunshine.

22nd November – 28th November

As with most town visits, we have walked for miles. Entrance to the old town is down the steepest road we have seen to date. The town itself is full of beautiful renaissance buildings and palaces with the majority of them now being used for the university. The whole town is a world heritage site and the Palazzo Ducal houses an archeological museum and an art gallery with works from Raphael. The building has an unusual Facciata dei Torricini, a three-storey gallery in the form of a triumphal arch, flanked by circular towers and is impressive to see. We visited the cathedral and walked around the perimeter walls which gave us a great view over the valley with the Apennines in the distance. We had lunch in a nice restaurant off the main square and had to tackle the big hill to get back home with tummies full of pasta, bread and wine.

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We travelled 60km through the beautiful Umbrian countryside to our destination of Gubbio, a medieval town at the base of Monte Ingino. Our first stop today was at the Roman theatre, built in the first century and sections of it are held together with modern day brickwork. The seating area, which held 6000 spectators has a small section remaining and apparently is still used for concerts. In the old town we made our way to the Piazza Grande which is dominated by the Palazzo dei Consoli, with its facade and tower which can be seen from all over town. We visited several of the churches and had our lunch in Piazza Grande which overlooks the town. Atop of Monte Ingino is the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo, which can be reached either on foot or via a cage like ski lift that whisks you to the top. Today it wasn’t running so we hiked 2kms up the hill to a height of 810m. The view was breathtaking (so was the walk but in a different way!) with the entire valley spreading picturesquely before us and the little toy town far below. The basilica displays the body of St Ubaldo, the 12th-century bishop of Gubbio, in a glass coffin above the altar with beautiful stained glass windows behind. The walk down was a lot easier and we wandered though the streets and cobbled lanes of this really nice town.

The view to the top

The view to the top of Mount Ingino

The view from the top of Monte Ingino

The view from the top of Monte Ingino

We took another tertiary road through more of the beautiful countryside with thick fog in the valleys and patterned with fields as we climbed to around 700m. Our destination was Perugia, the capital of Umbria, another hilltop town that’s perched above the Tiber river. Today is a rest day to give our knees a break before we tackle yet another steep climb to town.

We are staying in Ponti Rio, at the bottom of the hill so there was another steep walk up to the town of Perugia. All old towns are dominated by a cathedral or Basilica, usually around the main square and today was no different with Piazza IV November being the meeting point for the ancient Etruscan and Roman civilisations. The Cattedral Di San Lorenzo was our first stop. Massive marble pillars and bronze statues as well as some stunning biblical scenes adorn this beautiful place. Irrespective of whether you are religious or not, just to see these artworks and give thought to the countless days (as well as stiff necks) it must have taken to paint the ceilings and walls which look so lifelike in many instances is a treat. We wandered through the maze of cobbled alleys, arched stairways and piazzas framed by magnificent palazzi (mansions) visiting many of the churches, one in particular was the Chiesa de Sant’Angelo one of Italy’s oldest churches which dates back to the 5th century. A visit to the Rocco Paolina (fortress gardens) afforded us with expansive views across the city’s spires to the countryside and cypress-cloaked hills beyond. We walked along the top of the aqueduct before tackling the downhill journey home. We had a short drive to our next destination, Togliana about 20kms away and our view from the aire is back to Perugia across golden vineyards and olive groves, which this area is famous for.

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Another short drive today to the town of Santa Maria degli Angeli which is 3kms from Assisi. We did try and find a park in Assisi but to no avail so we will catch the bus from here in the morning. It is a very cold and foggy day however we walked into town to visit the Basilica entering through a gate that was manned with three heavily armed military personnel. Inside is a 9th century church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor and thus started the Franciscan movement. The Basilica was built around it in the 16th century and is the seventh largest church in the world with many scenes depicting his life painted on the walls. We were very fortunate to be there at the beginning of the Sunday service where nuns along with the choir were singing, it was very moving. The chapel was erected over the place where he died and the rose garden is where he is said to have thrown himself into the thorn bushes which the Lord transformed into roses which are still growing there. The chapel of the roses was built where Francis’ hut lay and inside it is covered with frescoes dating from the sixteenth century.

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One Response to Italy in November

  1. Baxterbus says:

    Fab to see your Blogs back 🙂 – Italy is wowing us with where you have been and what you have seen.

    Like

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