Umbria continued.

The following day we went walking in the Reserva Naturale Monte Rufino, it was quite warm and sticky, we did see several different butterflies and cyclamen growing wild under the trees, but not many birds, which was a disappointment. Not sure if the hunters shoot the birds?



The journey in the car, to and from Monte Rufino was good, lots of different types of scenery, and we did get lost and ended up on a "White road" on the map, it lived up to it's name. The car was covered in dust.

On Tuesday we had a more relaxing day, we strolled through the village, and found that the local supermarket was in fact quite large inside, and had just about anything you could want. One thing we found unusual was that other than the sliced wrapped bread, all the other bread was sold by weight. Anyway we enjoyed some of the bread with our dinner, sat on the patio back at the Casa. Afterwards we headed to Lake Trasimeno, and stopped on the shore at San Feliciano, where you can get a boat to one of the islands in the lake. San Feliciano was an extremely quiet place, hardly anyone about, ok it was siesta time, we sat and watched egrets fishing on the shore.

We tried to find the World Wildlife Fund nature reserve which was supposed to be in the area, we drove along the coastline several times, but couldn't find it. The guide book says that at weekends, you can drive an electric powered boat through the marshes to see the wildlife, ah well another time perhaps.

The next day determined to see some wildlife, we drove to Oasi de Alviano, another WWF site, a fair distance away from Papiano. We had researched it on the internet, and it was supposed to be open from September through to Spring.
This time we did find signs leading to it, and ended up at a large notice board, all in Italian, but we were able to make out it was open.
So we pulled on our walking shoes, and gathered binoculars and camera, and set off down the track. To find a deserted hut with a ticket office sign above, and not a soul around. Undaunted we carried on past the hut, and round a corner, to a tall locked gate. Another wasted journey?
We slowly walked back up the track to the car, Lyn grabbed her Italian-English dictionary and went to the notice board to see if she could glean any more information, I sat in the car looking at a map of the area to see if I could find any where interesting to go to save the day.
Suddenly a white jeep came up the road passed the car, and I could make out WWF on the door, I shouted out to Lyn, and she waved the jeep down. It did stop, and out got a suntanned lad. Lyn managed to ask when the reserve would be open, and the lad said, no problem, he would give us the key. Not only to the locked gate, but also to the hide within the reserve. So back down to the gate, which he opened, and locked again after we passed through, and said when we had finished, take the key back to the Bar near where we had parked the car. We hadn't seen a bar near the car, but said yes we would, anyway.
So we had the reserve to ourselves, and spent time taking video of the birds, as they searched for food on the lake. We signed the visitors book in the main hide, overlooked by a stuffed swan perched on a shelf in the darkness.
We let ourselves back out of the gate, and began to look for the bar to take the key back to, it was only about 100 metres up the road from the car.
The bar was empty apart from a lady behind the counter, we had decided we would have a drink while we were there. We handed the keys over, it seemed no surprise to the lady, so we assume it had been done before. We then opened the door of the cold cabinet which had all sorts of drink inside, and pointed to the ones we wanted, a stream of Italian words were shouted, and we both looked at each other. What was wrong?
It turned out that the cold cabinet was not working, but more drink was stored behind the bar in a cabinet that was working.
So we got our drinks and sat outside. A couple of cars pulled up outside the bar while we were there, and the occupants disappeared inside, and came back out with bags of provisions. The bar also had a small shop within.

On the way back to Papiano, we stopped off at the Roman ruins at Carsulae north of Terni.

The Roman road passed through the ruins, and disappeared into the countryside, cart tracks could be plainly seen, worn into the stone. An impressive sight as the sun began to fall behind the hills.

Thursday had a little more cloud, and we didn't get up too early, but there was time to go to Deruta before dinner.
Deruta is known for it's ceramic production, especially the Majolica, but at 355 Euros for a large plate about 24 inches in diameter, it was not something we desperately wanted! Especially if it got broken on our way back to England. Mind you, there were quite a few Americans around buying from the shops.
We didn't come away empty handed though. We bought a thick tile with a bunch of grapes painted on, for 13 Euros !! It will go well in the Mediterranean part of our garden.
The afternoon was spent walking through the fields above Papiano.

Friday we headed south east towards Norcia, which was about one and three quarters of an hour away. The approach to Norcia was through a 4000metre tunnel, and then into the valleys, with mountains towering above. Our first stop would be at the "Piano Grande" which is beyond Norcia, with a zig zag road up into the mountains. As we passed the outskirts of Norcia, we spotted some easy parking, so made a mental note to park up there on the way back.
 We climbed up on the hairpin road, hang gliders came into view, and then suddenly we came over the top of a ridge and saw this...........................

The Piano Grande, a vast area of flat land, with mountains on each side, and a small village called Castelluccio at the far end of the plain. The village is more or less cut off from the outside world in the winter snows, and most of the people living there move to lower towns. The area is known for the production of special lentils, and also for the wild flowers that cover the plain in Spring and early Summer. We did see a variety of flowers during our stop.


                                   Castelluccio

We spent several hours in the area, and then headed back down to Norcia. The parking was easy, and we then walked through one of the gateways in the town walls, to the Piazza. The town was very quiet, as we had arrived after most of the shops were shut for siesta in the afternoon.

A few were still open, and we took a fancy to a copper "sun face", but it was fairly expensive, so we left it there, perhaps for another day.
The next shop we came across, had all of the local delicacies of the area on sale.

I won't try to describe what the "Coglioui de la Mulo" is supposed to be !

The shop front also had a variety of "interesting" animals hung on the walls.

A far better shop was just around the corner.

With a small bag of chocolates we left Norcia, and agreed to come back, when all the shops and  museums would be open.
The trip back to Papiano was again interrupted by losing our way on the country roads, the map was blamed again, not the navigator.
We arrived back at Casa Mimosa in time to walk down to the village shops for a top up of food and wine. The clouds had become blacker, and as we climbed the steep streets back to the casa, it started to rain heavily, we rushed indoors just as thunder and lightning started. The torrential rain and gale force wind lasted for a couple of hours, and then it became quiet and still. The temperature had dropped from the middle twenties centigrade, to sixteen and the inside of the windows misted over as darkness fell.

Saturday. Much cooler today.
After the long drive yesterday we stayed a bit more local. We needed to top up our vegetable store, so we popped into Marsciano to a local supermarket. Lyn went in the shop, and thinking she was asking for a quarter of a kilo of green beans, she actually asked for 4 kilos! It was only when the lady started to put the beans into a very large plastic bag, that Lyn realized something was wrong, and hurriedly corrected herself.
It is my first time on holiday in Italy Lyn said, and the lady fell about laughing.
Afterwards we visited a very small village called Rotecastella, it didn't take long to explore, but it was very nice.

Later in the afternoon Lyn went horse riding near Castiglione della valle. Fortunately the girl leading the trek could speak a little English, so Lyn could ask a little about the area, and also booked to ride again during our second  week. The horse was called Jason, and was 27 years old, but was still very keen, probably glad to get out in the countryside instead of being used for schooling in the old barn.

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