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.
Favorite thing: 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.
Favorite thing: Compared to Germany, any kind of coffee is much cheaper in Italy. Haha, while writing this I realise that I want to be back in Italy, just for the smell of caffè! Espresso/caffè is usually less than 1 € in most of the Umbrian villages and caffè latte/Latte Macchiato is around 1,50 € (maybe more in Assisi and Perugia, but as I wasn’t there I cannot judge). But the very best price for “my” caffé latte I found in Bevagna, where I only paid 1 €!! This was at the bar near Porta Todi, in Micceleotto Hostaria. They also have a nice terrace outside, with parasols in summer.
Retrospectively, this was one of the most permanent impressions why Umbria caught my heart and soul and makes me want to come back again and again and again. I already mentioned in my intro that the weather wasn’t “the best”, but then what is best and what would be worst? It was raining very often, but then it was April and we all didn’t have splendid Aprils here in Europe’s 2008. When I look at the photos now, I am still caught by these light scenarios Umbria presented to me.
Umbria is called the green heart of Italy. And it seems that it is so lush and green not without a reason – which is the rain.
I was a bit worn out anyhow before I started my April holidays, so the rain didn’t matter much to me, plus I had some very interesting books in my luggage. It was most fascinating to watch the weather. During the rainy days it was not grey at all, but the days started with shining sun but very soon some clouds popped up which were darkish and then very dark. As if someone would open the zippers, water fell out in streams and only a good raincoat could protect me. Or the car, although driving in this rain wasn’t fun at all, the wipers had to work hard but I still almost could not see the road.
But at a point in time during these rain days the sun would reappear behind these clouds, mostly in the late afternoons and these brilliant light scenarios started. So often I ran out to look for the rainbow and often found it. Very often I also found two, as in one of the photos. Most magic was this very strong low light which gave special illumination to the trees or the landscape. These were the moments for me when I started to understand why San Francesco had chosen this part of the world to inaugurate his Franciscan order.
Sometimes also some rays of sunshine found their way through the clouds and illuminated the landscape. When these rays did hit one of the villages, it almost looked as if God sends blessings to this village (photo 3 and 4).
What I want to say here is that it is not necessarily bad to experience rain in Umbria. In contrast – it is one of the most powerful things one can have there, and it is even free of charge and unavoidable off season. April is highly recommended :-)
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).
Fondest memory: Nonetheless, there was something rather appealing about being the only tourists in this medieval town.