Well I’m back at work after a 5-day weekend. They closed the plant November 1 for All Saints day and then made an extended “ponte” to the weekend. It’s an attempt to save money at the end of the year.
I used this time to go on that trip to Norcia that I cancelled a few weeks ago. My trip started out with a rather uneventful train ride from Brindisi to Rome. The train was almost empty so I didn’t sit near any interesting people. By the time I arrived my neck was hurting from trying to see out the window. It was a beautiful bright sunny day but there was sinister wind blowing in from the North. The whole country has changed seasons in matter of hours. I walked around Rome on Thursday after finding a decent hotel. I think I’m addicted to walking in Rome. I went from the hotel near Termini to St. Peter’s in seemingly no time. The guards were closing the line for the “cupola” right before I got there, so I didn’t get to go up top of St. Peter’s and that’s always one of my favorite things to do in Rome. So I had to be happy with just going inside, but inside St. Peters it seems a lot more areas are roped off. I don’t want to go wherever I want but I was a little disappointed. That night I eat focaccia in a little place near the hotel. The owner and I chatted a little but he seemed preoccupied with whatever was going on outside. The hotel clerk recommended I check on the bus but I was confident there would be plenty of buses to Norcia, but I went to Tiburtina and checked at her recommendation. I was wrong. There was only one bus to Norcia at 7:30 AM and one bus back at 15:30. The bus didn’t go direct so it took 3 hours to get there. Ugh, I had to get up at 5:30 AM (on Thursday) to catch the train and now 6:00 AM (on Friday) to catch a bus. On vacation I like to sleep in, but I was on a mission.
Friday morning I worked like clockwork and I was at the bus station at 7:00 AM waiting with about 3 other people for the bus. Naturally all the other buses arrived, loaded, and started leaving but no bus to Norcia. Finally at 7:25 it arrived and everyone jumped on and off we went. The bus driver was a VERY chatty fellow. He talked constantly to a lady in the front seat. They were talking mainly about energy prices and taxes. Among other things, I was amazed to learn that he had 4 solar panels on his house and she had 5. No wonder they liked to talk about energy prices. At Terni he said we have a 10-minute break and then we’re off for Norcia. So you could imagine my surprise when in 10 minutes we left but with a new bus driver. I missed something there. Also at Terni a little old man got on and sat right behind me. He immediately started up a conversation. He wanted to tell me how the stainless steel they were producing there in Terni is the best in the world. We passed one amazing stone building that was part a company that produces huge steel shafts from what he said. I was a little sorry to see him get off shortly after we left town. Now the bus was almost quiet and the new driver didn’t talk at all. Instead he played with the radio even as the road twisted and turned tighter and tighter. He would be honking before a sharp turn, hitting buttons on the radio and turning all at the same time. You wanted to yell, just drive the bus! Then he stops about 10 km from Norcia, “get off here for Norcia” is basically want he yelled to all 6 of us on the bus. There was another smaller bus waiting and it took us the last bit.
Norcia was almost exactly like I expected. The wall around the town is still completely encircling the historic center and there are only a few buildings outside this wall. Strolling down the main street is amazing. The cold wind brought the smell of wood fires and salumi. Norcia is famous for it’s salumi made from wild pigs and also for truffles. I stopped in the first store I saw, excited to tell anyone about my connection with the town. The butcher was interested and agreed that the Ottaviani’s were an important family in the town. I walked out proud of my heritage and with two nice salumi from Norcia. I saw the monument in town to the fallen soldiers of WWI and WWII. Sure enough there was an Ottaviani, Stanchetti and Carucci. All names I remember from huge holiday parties of the past. I had lunch next door to the monument at a restaurant called “La Locanda del Teatro” (the theater was across the street). I had a lunch based completely on the famous local wild pig and it was good. No fish dishes this far inland! Then I wandered around the town staying in the sun, where it was warm. Luckily, I could wait for the bus in the sun or I would have a cold right now. Finally I have seen my Italian origins. There are a lot of other observations but this is getting long so maybe I’ll make rest another post another day.