Day 7 – Paciano e Panicale
- Barb: Planning
- Mike: Foggy
- Jen: Fortress
- Barb: Stormy weather
- Mike: Local surprises
- Jen: Catching up
Three or Four Words
- Barb: Neat as a pin
- Mike: Roses per le donne
- Jen: They drive down that?!
- Barb: We’re in the country now!
- Mike: Every hill has its town
- Jen: Rocks and bricks living together.
We slept in and had a leisurely morning, largely because it was cloudy and raining. Mike and Barb made plans for where to go and what to do during our time in this area, and I caught up on the blog (ha!). After lunch, we visited the nearby towns of Paciano and Panicale; our first hill towns.
Today’s themes: Hill Towns, Festa Delle Donne
Driving through the countryside, hill towns look kind of funny. As Mike said in his summary, every hill has its town, and the jammed-together buildings look like a cluster of kids pushing and shoving, vying to be king of the hill. There’s all sorts of space around, lovely space; they could spread out, but they all want to be in this one tiny space. It’s looks rather silly.
There was a good reason for it, of course: safety. They were built during violent times. Most, it seems, started as Roman and Etruscan fortresses: walled areas protecting troops or settlements. Later, medieval people further developed these fortresses as towns. You can see some of the alterations and additions in the stonework.
Now, these hill towns are quaint, compact towns, with modern elements retrofitted into the old spaces and structures. Cars now drive where people and horses used to walk and wagons rolled, despite the twisty, tiny passageways that were never intended to accommodate cars.
These towns are adorable and fascinating! We got to peek inside one building that was being renovated.
Festa Delle Donne
We were, as always, in need of food. Shops, especially small ones, are open from something like 8 or 9 a.m. to about 1 p.m. and then again around 3:30 or 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. For some reason, this doesn’t seem to work very well for us. We’re out touring when shops are open, and we want to shop when they are closed. (See why I worry about not having ample food on hand?)
Everything was closed during our walk through Paciano. We found a store just outside the walled area that was bigger than most of the shops we’ve seen, but still quite small. It, too, was closed for the midday nap. So we drove to Panicale—another walled hill town nearby—and walked through it.
On the way home, we caught the outside-the-wall store while it was open and purchased a fair quantity of food, including pasta, tomato sauce, cereal, and yogurt. The produce was very expensive, however, so we opted to wait to find a produce market.
After checking us out, the man behind the counter pulled two roses from a bucket and handed one to Barb and one to me. He explained in very slow Italian that today was Festa Delle Donne, Feast or Festival of Women. Who knew? So our lovely old wooden table in our stone house is now adorned with two yellow-pink roses.
Before heading home, we remembered a macelleria (butcher’s shop) in the walled Paciano, and decided to see if it, too, was open. It was. We spent a good 15–20 minutes, maybe more, deciding what to get and how to say, “Macinata, mezzo kilo,” a half-kilo of ground beef. Mind you, the butcher probably speaks at least a little English, and if not, pointing and some hand gestures would have sufficed. But we had the time, and I wanted to speak Italian. I said “Hacinata” instead of “Macinata” because the handwritten M on the sign looked like an H to me. (H is always silent, which begs the question, What is the point of that letter, anyway?) The butcher kindly corrected me, and smiled at the time and effort we put into the purchase.
We had her tend to another customer while we made up our minds, identified what we were looking at, and looked in the phrase book for the words we wanted. We got to watch her slice some sort of lunch meat by hand. Impressive! Thin, even slices, time after time. Naturally, she was also able to eyeball a lump of hamburger that was very close to being a half-kilo.