Sunday, August 21, 2016

Itinerary planned and booked

We went through many ideas. Of places to stay and how to get to them.
We have found another week is possible so we can leave Australia on 11 March 2017 and return on 17 April. Leaving houseminder and dog and chickens to defend the house. A house containing for the most part aged technology and recycled furnishings. :-)

Our criteria were:
 • ease of access for my creaky legs
• places away from the main tourist traffic, for the most part
• places with communities around them. There were some lovely offerings on airbnb of apartments in remote and scarcely inhabited villages, also on farms, but we would prefer to be in or close to a live town.
• to stay in only a few places.

 So we have decided upon:

Vasanello, a village near the Orte exit from the Autostrada del Sole, about an hour and a half in car rented from airport in Rome. We arrive Rome 12.30pm on Sunday 12 March.

click on any image to enlarge all

Wonders of Google Earth: we enter the village, from left, turn right into Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and find Via Roma, go down to the end of Via Roma near the green vegetable crops, turn right and right and come back into the Piazza Ortaccio, the white concrete space that seems to have a cricket patch in the middle. A recuperative place with spa and sauna. Three nights, two days, in which perhaps to wander to Soriano nel Cimino and other places we know.

After three nights at Vasanello, we drive through Umbria and a corner of Tuscany, on the way visiting either or both of Spoleto and Spello.

from the airbnb ad for La Quercia Blu
Then into the Appenine range and the region known as Le Marche, staying in  
San Severino Marche for nine nights at La Quercia Blu (The Blue Oak).

Le Marche is a less frequently or (for most, including thus far ourselves) never visited province which is said by its advocates to contain everything of Italy. And where much medieval is retained amidst modernity.

Piazza del Popolo, San Severino Marche

The central piazza of Cupramontana.
Ms Google says Cupramontana is just 40km
away from San Severino Marche,
but the road marked out is exceptionally squiggly!

San Severino Marche, interesting in itself, is within easy reach of a number of other 'big' places we may visit, such as Fabriano, with its major place in the history of paper, Camerino and Iesi. Here is an index of places of interest.

But beyond the bigs are all the other places in between, lacking great walls or fine cathedrals (and perhaps for that reason murderous history) but assuredly with village life. The host of an airbnb apartment, which did not quite meet our needs, suggested that at her place, in Cupramontana, one need only take a table and chair outside into the town square to be part of life. We may never get to the big, always distracted by the small!

We will only see a fraction of Le Marche in eight days, but the essence of travel in Italy, with such crowds of things to see, is to avoid the temptation to try to eat the whole lolly jar. What we can be sure of is that while hundreds of tourists every moment are tramping the tiny pretty villages of Cinque Terre, we may see few tourists where we are going.

Villa Viola
From San Severino Marche we then must drive, on 24 March, 200km to Forli, in the east of Emilia-Romagna. Earlier in this blog I dwelt on the fascinating Po Delta. We will be on the edge of that in Forli. We will be staying in the wonderful Villa Viola.

The ex-College of Aeronautics in Forli, the
"vetrina nazionale dell'architettura razionalista" (photo credit)

Forli is less visited. Its own distinctive history and architecture is influenced by Mussolini's bestowal of much on his home town. Forli is so close to many interesting places, including Ravenna with its astonishing mosaics from its history 1400 years ago as capital of the western Roman Empire.  There are eight UNESCO listed historical sites in Ravenna. But again there are many other places near at hand, including Cesena, Adria, Faenza and Brisighella. The task is to choose...
Adria, Veneto (photo credit) 

Brisighella, the fifteenth century Via del Borgo, also known as Via Degli Asini (photo credit), street of the donkeys
— because the street at one time was where carters lived, with carts in the warehouses below,
the donkeys in front, carriers of chalk from quarries.

After seven nights in Forli we return the rental car in Bologna and take the train to Mantova. City of Culture in Italy 2016, European City of Gastronomy 2017, our accommodation in the Casa dell'Architetto itself likely to be a miraculous, mind-stimulating experience.

Mantova: from
click to enlarge all
La Casa dell'Architetto (above and right)

In Mantova, much to do in town (including just being there); also Sabbioneta, which got on the UNESCO list with Mantova. And places more alive than Sabbioneta, like the scarcely known Montagnana (wonderful some visitors report; just a dull town say others).
Montagnana, from the wonderful blog of Nicole Pasini

Oh and also, minutes away on the train, Verona, with the tramp of feet going to see Juliet's balcony... and a short ride from there to Lake Garda.

A view of Verona and Piazza dell'Erbe (photo credit)
We were attracted to Verona but have chosen Mantova as less tramped.. and to stay in the Casa dell.Architetto.

The much visited Juliet's balcony in Verona is the essence of popular tourism:
derived of course from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but location invented in the 1970s.
We are withal, forsooth, amidst it all almost as much to be in Mantova.

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene 5 [Open Source Shakespeare]

Methinks we must with care choose what we drink in that same Mantova.
Mantova in Italian is Mantua in English - but also Mantua in the Mantuan dialect...

The wikipedia entry in Italian on Romeo e Giulietta, with extensive discussion of circumstances in Italy
 and references to the feuding families of Verona, ALSO references to the same or similar story
written earlier in Italy, is more complex than the English wikipedia entry on Romeo and Juliet.
This is a google translation of the Italian entry. Italians love Shakespeare.
As an even more transformative experience we could head for Lake Garda and see if anyone is doing what Ms Google recommends for crossing the lake. I think they lack a symbol for ferry, but I may be mistaken...

Seven nights in Mantova and then by the Frecciargento (Silver Arrow) five hundred kilometres to Rome.
of course the timetable may change, we book closer to the time, within 120 days

Frecciargento: source

In Rome we have decided to stay somewhere away from places focused on in the past, an apartment for nine nights in Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore. We hope very much that there will be no problems with the elevator as we will be on the sixth floor.

With a large veranda, with this view of the basilica. And around us the interwoven everything of Rome, if one can stay out of the way of tourists running to get to the next Big Thing and missing everything in between.

source wikipedia
A walk from the station, Roma Termini, a walk from the largest market, Esquilino, access to other parts of Rome on the Metro and buses. The weekly ticket takes you everywhere. For example, a tiny example, via the Metro to Piramide for the Testaccio Market and the Cimeterio Accattolica (non-catholic) where among others, and diversely, Antonio Gramsci (among founders of the Italian Communist Party and source of the concept of cultural hegemony) and the English romantic poet Keats and the Shelley family, this from Wikipedia:
Shelley, who did not know how to swim, drowned in 1822 while sailing in his yacht off the Italian Riviera. When his body washed up upon the shore, a copy of Keats' poetry was discovered in his pocket - doubled back - as though it had been put away in a hurry. He was cremated on the beach near Viareggio by his friends, the poet Lord Byron and the English adventurer Edward John Trelawny. His ashes were sent to the British consulate in Rome, who had them interred in the Protestant Cemetery some months later.
Shelley's heart supposedly survived cremation and was snatched out of the flames by Trelawny, who subsequently gave it to Shelley's widow, Mary. When Mary Shelley died, the heart was found in her desk wrapped in the manuscript of "Adonais," the elegy Shelley had written the year before upon the death of Keats, in which the poet urges the traveler, "Go thou to Rome ...".
Shelley and Mary's three-year-old son William was also buried in the Protestant Cemetery.
Shelley's heart was finally buried, encased in silver, in 1889, with the son who survived him, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, but his gravestone in the Protestant Cemetery is inscribed: Cor cordium ("heart of hearts"), followed by a quotation from Shakespeare's The Tempest
Nothing of him that doth fade/But doth suffer a sea change/Into something rich and strange.
As regards the report of Mary Shelley having kept her husband's heart in her desk drawer, it is pertinent to note that he did not drown until a decade after the publication of Mary's Frankenstein in 1812. Earlier it had been
...a rainy, gloomy day on Lake Geneva, and a bunch of Romantic poets were stuck in the house with nothing to do. To pass the time, Lord Byron suggested that they each write a ghost story. Nineteen-year-old Mary wracked her brain to think of a good one. "I busied myself to think of a story, - a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror -- one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart," [source]


from our 2001 blog, just us,
looking in a shop window,
in its complexity
And then we fly home at 11.15 on Easter Sunday, 16 April 2017. The timing pleases me. I first arrived in Rome early on the morning of Easter Sunday, 14 April 1968.  Quasi un giubileo. Having to that time as a student and in foreign service been immersed in southeast Asia, I realised in moments, arriving in the city of Rome how little I knew of... well, most things.

Now at age 73, I must confirm that there is nothing more important than continuing to learn and, for me, nothing more rewarding than immersion in Italy: the language (with my limping limitations). the aesthetic eye, the generosity of people and the sheer complexity of everything.

We will have internet connection (as well as kitchens and washing machines!) throughout, so hopefully some nice stories to blog. :-)

Half a year from now.