Italy 2023 – Via di Francesco: Days 5-6

We’ve adjusted.
We’ve adapted.
We’ve accepted.

This is no longer a through hike…

Via di Francesco – Day 5: Città di Castello to Pietralunga

Another day on the Via di Francesco. Another stage taken by taxi to another lovely B&B in another quaint Umbrian mountain village. Once our packs were dropped off, we stretched our legs hiking on a local trail up to the next ridge line where we could see far into the distance the terrain we will not walk tomorrow.

Our day finished as most do here: a wonderful meal of local wine and the chef’s black truffles specialty.

I couldn’t be happier!

Joanie made a new friend.

We’re going way over there tomorrow, beyond those hills. Just not on foot.

How do you say “Who’s a good dog?” in Italian?

Dinner brings pretty views with soft evening light and long shadows.

Via di Francesco – Day 6: Pietralunga to Gubbio

Whenever you’re next in central Italy, we recommend visiting Gubbio!

As pilgrims instead of tourists, I shudder to think we might have walked another long stage and been too tired to spend the hours we loved while roaming through this fascinating medieval city. Free of all but a few Italian visitors, Gubbio now ranks as my favorite place in all of Italy – ever!

Gubbio is a city built along the side of a mountain, so our first order of business is to get to the high point to catch the view and get oriented. Climbing would be too cliché, so we hopped into the suspended bird cages of the funivia. It’s like a ride at an amusement park!

We should have hiked up, but the ride looked much more fun. Once at the top, while visiting the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo, we learned about an annual event that made us feel even worse for taking the easy way to the top.

Every year, on 15 May, Gubbio hosts the centuries-old Ceri Festival, one of the world’s most unique competitions. This is Saint Ubaldo Day, when local teams compete in the “Race of the Saints” by carrying tall and heavy “wooden machines” throughout the city and up the slopes of Mount Ingino to the Basilica. We can’t imagine racing up these slopes!

Here’s a photo of a poster I found from a previous year.

We saw the ornately designed ceri and thought that a return visit to see it in person would be a lot of fun! (I later learned that a similar festival is held in Jessup, Pennsylvania, on Memorial Day weekend due to many of its residents’ ancestors coming from Gubbio.)

Or perhaps we’ll visit during the holiday season when Gubbio illuminates the largest Christmas tree on the planet!

This view of the valley through the churchyard gate stirred up memories.

It reminded me of the poster for the film, Brother Sun Sister Moon. I doubt that I would be in Gubbio today if not for falling in love with this film 50 years ago.

We visited a beautiful home decor shop, Bottgeghe Caff, and met its friendly owners, Leonardo and Patricia Fumanti. Gubbio was a significant center of Italian pottery production during the Renaissance, and Leonardo continues the tradition. This handmade serving platter was shipped home to highlight our dining room – buying souvenirs is something tourists do more than pilgrims.

Another notable feature of Gubbio is its ties to ancient Rome. The ruins of this Teatro Romano are continually being restored, so we didn’t get a very close look through the security fence. But I am impressed with the descriptions and artists’ renderings of what it might been like B.C.E.

Today’s dining included cold dishes and refreshing drinks in the heat…

… and meals of substance for dinner.

We’re growing used to not walking this Via and can’t help but keep the laughter flowing.

Our interaction with Gubbio’s residents enhanced our wonderful day. In addition to Leonardo and Patricia, we found time for some volleyball with girls on the street and overheard musical practices in the warm evening. What a marvelous place – we will return!

Author: Chris

Until 2019, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

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