Umbria Italy

The start of our journey began at 3.30 in the morning when we set out to Gatwick for a 7.35 departure for Fiumicino Airport on the outskirts of Rome. The British Airways flight arrived in Italy exactly on time.
We waited for quite a while for our cases to show on the reclaim conveyor, and then made our way on the maze of passages and escalators towards the hire car offices.
Fortunately we had researched the airport on the internet prior to leaving, and the information and pictures on "Slow Travellers" site enabled us to find our way relatively easily, but they could not have warned us about the queues that were emerging from the hire car offices, and guess what, ours was the longest!. So Hertz rent a car must get the majority of bookings, something to remember if we should come back again.
It was hot waiting in the queue, but very very slowly we entered the office area where the air conditioning made it a little more bearable. There were about 4 or 5 people behind the desk taking the bookings, but it took an age for each person to give the information required to finally be given the keys to the cars, I timed one person who was at the desk for 17 minutes. After about an hour and a quarter in the queue, it was our turn, and even though we had pre booked the car it took a similar time before we received the keys.
Back out of the office we went, noting what other car hire firms were at the airport. We passed the long queue we had been in, people with long faces like we must have had, but now we were on our way to the cars. The last words we had been given before we left the office was " check the car for damage before you leave", something we always do, and guess what, a big graze along the front wing. So off I went to the top office, where the cars are garaged, not a long queue here though, but absolutely boiling in there, lord knows what it must be like in the height of summer, and no sign of any air conditioning.
Our car is damaged, I reported, and as I did, I could hear Lyn shouting at me from afar, Malc, Malc. I went back to the car with the lady from the office in tow, Lyn had found that the plastic cover over the headlight had a hole in it that you could put your hand through, and there was no bulb in the headlight. The Hertz lady agreed that it was not driveable, and told us to wait, which we did for another 10 minutes.
She came back and asked me to come to the office. as she would have to alter the documents, oh come on we want to get out of here.
We finally did, with a different, undamaged car, and made our way gently down from the top floor of the covered car park to the exit road below. Lyn was the navigator!! as we left the airport and headed towards the Rome ring road. I had heard much about the Italian ways of driving, so was a little apprehensive as we approached the busy road, made all the worse by miles of road works, but fortunately no traffic jams.
We reached the exit for the three lane Autostrada, a toll road which runs for nearly the length of Italy. We were on this road for about 3/4 hour, and after paying the 3 euro toll we headed towards Terni, and then north towards Perugia
. We would be staying in the small Medieval hill village of Papiano south of Perugia. We had telephoned Rob who looks after the house, after we left the airport, and he had arranged to meet us in one of the two bars in Papiano square.


                                              Papiano Square

We finally arrived at the bar at 4pm local time, exactly eleven and a half hours after leaving our house in Ferndown. Rob had seen us arrive, and after greeting us, told us to follow him with the car, up towards the top of the village. Being a Medievel village the streets are very narrow and steep, so we had to leave our car short of the house, and carry the cases up through the square and up steep steps to the little house where we were to spend the next two weeks, we fell through the door and sat on the sofa, having just about had enough of travelling for the day.


                                              
Streets leading to the house

But we hadn't finished yet. As it was a Saturday the shops would be shut the next day, and we needed some food/drink to see us through till Monday, so we didn't sit down long before we were back in the car and on our way to Marsciano, the nearest small town. We drove through Papiano village square again, passing the little local Supermarket and Butchers which of course were closed for siesta.
We found a couple of shops open in Marsciano, and after some pointing and gesticulating, and there was much laughter from one of the ladies serving from behind the meat and cheese counter, as we could hardly speak a word of Italian.
Back in the house which is called Casa Mimosa, we eat a simple meal and unpacked our cases, it wasn't long before we retired to bed.

The next day we woke to the bells from the "Campanile"  which was built on top of the only remaining medievel tower. Time to get up and explore the village. Our first view was from the bedroom window.



It was a nice warm sunny morning, time to forget the hassle of the previous day, it was easy to do, walking through the quiet village and into the countryside.



                                                        
Papiano from across the valley



The people in the village were very friendly, but we could not hold a conversation with them, we needed a crash course in Italian.
After lunch we decided to go out in the car to Trevi, a hill town about three quarters of an hour away.
On the way we passed below another hill town called Gualdo Cattaneo, one of many we would visit during our holiday.



We didn't have time to stop today, so carried on our journey through the countryside.

There was no mistaking Trevi, we could see it from miles away.



As we motored slowly up the steep road towards the town, the road became increasingly narrower. We were looking for somewhere to park, not wanting to go too much further up in case the road ended in a small square, where you have difficulty turning round, like we had encountered in Spain many times. Gives the locals a laugh though.
We did find a parking space, and a new learning curve of Italian parking signs, not that Italians take any notice of them, but we felt we should, not wishing to encounter the law, on our first day out in the car.
Italian Parking signs, well there are those that allow you to park for say an hour, and you have a little cardboard clock face, attached to the windscreen, which you set to the time of day you parked the car. Then there are the pay at meter signs, parking bays marked out in blue lines, and believe it or not, scratch cards, which you purchase in nearby shops, don't ask what you do with the cards, we never tried that one.


                                                        Street views in Trevi


           And views from the town walls

We returned back to Casa Mimosa, had a rather late dinner, and fell asleep on the sofa!

To continue on our holiday click HERE