An early start in order to get to Montegabbione by 8:45. This hillside walk should take us along the paths and to some of the refuges used by local people and Partisans during the last war, in order to hide from the Germans who had occupied the local towns. There was a slight breeze but clear blue skies accompanied our group of about 20 walkers. The views were astonishing and made all the better as the trees have not yet grown their leaves and so we could see for miles around. The path was rugged in places but we had the luxury at the end of being collected by mini van so we didn’t have to re-trace our steps back up the hillside. Daisy-dog always loves trotting along and being made a fuss of by everyone and today she had the added bonus of a little stream and pools to have a paddle in.
The old buildings have now been abandoned due to their remoteness and the people who lived there self-sufficiently have now passed away. The land would have been terraced and worked to provide crops and feed for their animals as well as small groves of olives, almonds, peaches and figs. The trees are still there although much is overgrown and the wild flowers have taken over including a couple of species of field orchid.
Returning back to Montegabbione we were invited to a talk by a 99 year old resident of the town whose life story has been turned into a book recounting his time as a soldier and prisoner of the Germans until the Liberation when for a couple of years he became a prisoner of the British. Unfortunately I couldn’t really understand his Italian as he spoke in the local dialect and quite fast so we adjourned to the local bar to wait for the small ceremony in the main square, that would commemorate the fallen of the last wars.
Conducted by the local priest at the war memorial flanked by a smart Carabineri and a police officer, there was a short ceremony and laying of laurel wreaths, and then the local mayor gave a speech and proceeded to play the ‘Last Post’ on his clarinet.
There followed a rousing patriotic song about the Partisans and while the dignitaries set off for two other villages to repeat the ceremony, we adjourned to the bar/local store. This looked like it had been there since the ‘50’s with its formica tables and amazing counter with drawers for different pastas, an old coffee machine and weighing scales.
Now run by the daughter of the original family we were thrilled to be introduced to her 95 year old mum, Eva. They live a good long time in these parts and Eva was full of life and seem delighted to hear our story of choosing Umbria for our home. Certainly nothing wrong with Eva’s memory, or appetite, as lunch was delivered for her from the nearby sports centre, where we too were booked in to eat. First course was a chickpea and vermicelli soup and then a plate of spaghetti all’Amatriciana (bacon and tomato sauce). A plate of tasty grilled sausages and pork slice with a green salad arrived next and all served with water and local red wine. We opted out of dessert as we were full but for 12€ it was still great value and delicious.
Such a lovely day as we were walking and chatting with friends from Citta della Pieve, enjoying the beautiful countryside. Then watching the commemoration ceremony and chatting to Eva and her daughter in the bar: we felt so welcomed by everyone’s friendliness. Even the Carabinieri commented on how cute Daisy was, which is a given.