I am finally on the return journey from Italy (there were complications, a missed flight and a great deal of swimming in guilt, and frantically trying to sort things out), wearing a new green hat that makes me look like a frumpy female Indiana Jones wannabe, but I can’t bring myself to abandon it because it’s a great hat for sunny, sight seeing and seriously who doesn’t want to be Indiana Jones? (Even Harrison Ford, the world’s most serious actor, can’t resist going back to being him over and over again.) The passengers either side of me are trying to sleep as I merrily tap away, elbows flying over the strict boundary line of the armrest.
So we arrive at the delightful Cequara Rosara in Voltapino, and spend the morning splashing about in a refreshing pool that overlooks nothing but glorious mountains and big sky. The kids in our tribe are happily alternating between swimming, table tennis, archery, and watching Italian cartoons, or fighting over the iPad. Obviously this contentment cannot last. We, the adults, wish to go sight seeing, the kids are about to be miserable.
We head off to little town called Bevagna, two cars pootling along autostradas and country roads, the car with GPS, following the one without. This is no accident. The car in front is being driven by the human equivalent of a homing pigeon who without map or sat-nav can find her way anywhere, furthermore the GPS is directionally challenged, demanding that we turn right when the arrow on the screen is doggedly pointing left. Given that it took around 4 hours to get the car hire sorted, it does not surprise me that we have ended up with a navigation system that is literally bi-polar.
Bevagna turns out to be one of those picture perfect small towns that has been around for centuries. To be honest we had no idea what was there or what we should see, we had gone there with the recommendation that it was a pretty place not too far away, and there would be wine. We had bugger all idea that it had been a Roman town in 700BC and the masonry we were seeing today was a mere spring chicken in existence from the 13th century. Nor were we aware that there were 7 churches, 3 castles, and a host of Roman relics including theatre and preserved mosaics from the town bath house. Instead we came away from there knowing that there was a river, some charming piazzas, a music festival taking place, and a really lovely gelato shop where the staff patiently taught us how to say: piccolo (small), medio (medium), and of course the important one, grande.
Bevagna’s lay out – like other old Italian towns – has the traditional Roman lay-out of a high circular wall, with several (six) gates into the city, and roads from the gates leading upwards and inwards to wide piazzas, and narrow cobbled streets. Tip for travelling through Italy: thick soled shoes! Do not envisage yourself wearing skin thin ballet slippers, or a casual pair of foam flip flops from the $99 cent store, the cobble stones might be smooth as glass from years of wear, but they are still bloody hard and will bruise the soles of your feet. Even the effortlessly chic Italian ladies eschew heels in favour of something with more grip and absorption. We wandered up through the Piazza Silvestri, let the kids drink the water from the drinking tap below the fountain (whilst obviously purchasing a daily 12 litres of bottled water rather than drink from the taps inside a nice modern building), and found our way into the Chiesa de S. Margherita, admiring centuries old frescoes and blithely ignoring the insistent cries of, “Why are we doing this? Can we go? I just want to go back to the pool, this is BORING”. We then meandered through alleys with apartments and hotels lodged in the tall, shade giving, buildings above the delicatessens, restaurants, cashmere boutiques and tourist knick knack shops on the ground floor (“No I will not buy you a gun, or a sword. It won’t be allowed back through customs”).