When in Rome: Final Days, Part 1 of 2

View from Janiculum Hill

We settled on a new strategy for our final two days in Rome. We were again “based” in Trastevere. This time our plan was to explore only more-or-less immediate neighborhoods in an effort to minimize time spent in the logistics of finding our way around. The strategy worked better than we had any right to expect. With a minimum of time spent getting lost, we discovered a trove of Roman treasures most of which would likely not have made it to a short-term visitor “must see” list. Continue reading

When in Umbria: Spoleto, Part 2

Rocca Albornoziana, second courtyard

The Umbria portion of our travels ended with a final full day in Spoleto. Our first days in Spoleto had coincided with the Rocca Albornoziana closing days, though there was plenty to see looking out over its ramparts. Continue reading

When in Umbria: Spello

Marcantonio Grecchi, Madonna con Bambino, San Felice Vescovo e il Beato Andrea Caccioli (17 C, detail)

More frescoes, specifically “Pinturicchio’s superlative frescoes in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore,” awaited us at the hill town of Spello . . . or so we thought. [cite] Vasari didn’t think much of Pinturicchio’s work: Continue reading

When in Umbria: From Spoleto to Norcia

Vallo di Nera

For our next outing, though we knew the 2016 earthquake damage would truncate our journey, we headed east. The prospect of mountainous countryside, dotted with hill towns, was the key enticement. Frescoes, at least theoretically, were also on offer, but, as we suspected, issues of access foiled our attempts to see them. Continue reading

When in Umbria: Assisi

Norberto Proietti, Il Ritorno di Francesco

Our initial decision was to give Assisi a miss, for forewarned is forearmed, as they say:

Be warned: this is the third most visited pilgrimage site in Italy (after St. Peter’s in Rome and Padre Pio’s shine in Puglia), meaning often impenetrable crowds in the main visitor hotspots. [Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbria]

But, after viewing frescoes by Da Volterra in Rome, Fra Filippo Lippi in Spoleto, and Benozzo Gozzoli’s St. Francis cycle in Montefalco,  it seemed preposterous to miss out on Giotto’s* St. Francis cycle in St. Francis’s home town. We’re pleased to report that, while the streets were gently “peopled,” we didn’t encounter crowds. Continue reading