Dawn in the valley
On the Sunday morning at the Poggio dei Pettirossi I woke at dawn, needing to use the bathroom. On my way back to bed I paused to look out of the window and was transfixed by the sight. The whole valley in front of the hotel was filled with an unearthly mist, with just the occasional tall cypress tree poking up through it. The surrounding hills were just taking on their day-time colours, and behind those to the east a pink glow heralded the sunrise. This was a sight too lovely to ignore, so instead of returning to my sleep I pulled on some clothes, grabbed my camera and headed outside, quickly followed by Chris who was equally taken with the spectacle. I apologise here and now to our sleeping neighbours as, though we tried to move quietly and not wake them, the resident dogs were immediately excited by our appearance and rushed over to play, barking loudly.
Once we had calmed the dogs down and crossed the lawn to the edge of the property the view lay before us in all its magic and glory. For half an hour I watched the mists shift and swirl, and the colours of the sunrise start to dominate the sky. I also took many pictures, hoping that my camera could do justice to the scene – and I believe that it did.
Finally, at about six o’clock, we headed back to our room in search of warmth and another hour or so of sleep. But as we did so a final bit of magic crowned the experience for me – all the bells of Bevagna in the valley below began to ring out with the call to the first mass of Sunday, their chimes drifting up to us through the mist. Truly a special memory of our too brief time here in Umbria.
Was it something I said?
Bevagna was absolutely the most deserted of all Italian towns we visited. In this picture you will see the only 3 tourists who were there that afternoon (in addition to me), and I am related to all of them!
The time of day was part of the reason Bevagna was so deserted. In midafternoon, everything closes up. We did manage, however, to buy some very welcome bottles of cold water at a small market on this warm afternoon, but that was it. My husband and I actually had a hankering for a glass of wine at an enoteca, but all the enotecas were closed.
We heard there is more action at night in Bevagna (although it was hard to imagine this deserted town with a night club atmosphere). Nonetheless, there was something rather appealing about being the only tourists in this medieval town.
San Francesco spoke to the birds here
Legend says that it was Bevagna where San Francesco spoke to the birds. In chiesa San Francesco (at Piazza Garibaldi, a bit hidden behind the palazzos) is a stone where he is said to have stood while preaching to the birds. Bevagna locals are very proud of their saint and you will come across signs and little statues of him very often. The one in my photo was at the entrance to Il Poggio dei Pettirossi.
Arte in Tavola & Mercato delle Gaite
When I was in Bevagna, I came across the announcement of Arte in tavola. This is a local festival all around food and handicraft. Well, to use the simple word food seems not appropriate enough when it comes to Umbria’s delicious (Gaumenfreuden), so the name arte in tavola (art on the table) describes it much better. During this festival, which starts on Friday, tables are put into the streets and local specialities are offered. You can also sample the wine, and buy of course the magic delicatessen from wine to olive oil, cheese, sausage and many more. They also have handicraft stalls where they sell all kinds of products, handmade according to the old traditions, such as candles woodcraft and (Tuch).
I was very much disappointed that I won’t be there any longer when it takes place, but… next time.
In 2008, the festival Arte in Tavola was held from May 2nd to May 4th. If you plan to visit Umbria in the next years, check for this festival and try to plan your visit around it. It is definitely worth a visit and sampling. I had so many delicious foods in Umbria, so that I believe to be able to judge, even if I wasn’t at this special festival.
But the most fascinating event in Bevagna must be Mercato delle Gaite, a Medieval festival of 10 days length where many market stalls are spread over the whole town and where Bevagna locals show old and traditional skills like candle making, dyeing, knitting, where Medieval contests are held in bow and arrow shooting and others. If you are in Umbria during June, make sure you don’t miss this festival. I will definitely come back during this time! See photo, to get an idea of how the people are dressed.
Good shoes, rain protection and time
If you want to visit Bevagna and might need to park “outisde” or walk from the bus stations to your accommodation, I would recomment that you bring luggage on wheels or backpacks, they are easier to carry on the often cobblestoned roads. Definitely bring shoes with which you are comfortable for walking. Bevagna has a lot of cobblestones. Your feet will be grateful in the evening. Bring warm clothes, even in summer, as the temperature might get colder than at the coast. Umbrella or raincoat might be a good idea, depending on the season. I needed good rainprotection in April (2008). If you want to visit the churches, bring something to cover arms and legs, as you might not be let in with unappropriate clothes. There are enough pharmacies where you can get medical supply. Bevagna even has a famous one, with a tree inside. Bring translation for prescriptions. You might like to bring first aid kits with band-aid, as you might have blisters from walking. Foot cream is a good idea, too. My feet were happy in the evening with this. The most magic impressions throughout whole Umbria and especially the region around Bevagna are the churches and other buildings. Many of them, especially Duomo San Michele, have ornaments, sculptures and other details where you would need a good tele lens. There is no beach in Bevagna, but depending on the places you stay, you might have access to a pool. If you plan to hike, bring all your equipment, as it is most unlikely to find places where you can rent tents and the other stuff. Binoculars are a good idea, for wildlife watching or looking at the building details. Maybe a torch as well, as depending where you go, streets might not be lit appropriately. Italian dictionary is also a good idea.