Cielo Chiaro, came pretty stocked up. Not only with kitchenware, towels, and artistic décor (as you might expect), but with a bookshelf full of books (plus another half book shelf with books and movies—and a bottle of chilled Prosecco. But let’s talk about books now). I suppose Italian landlords/British charmers Andrew and Marianne don’t want us to become un-literary while here. When exploring the deeper recesses of these book shelves the other day, Natalie came across a small book, just more than a pamphlet, called The Upper Tiber Valley General Guide.
We started with Monte S. Maria Tiberina (which is a mouthful to say and type), and the picture at the top left of this post is the view of this hilltown as you drive the winding and ever-upwards roads leading towards it (note: if you ever make this drive, watch out for buses coming down as you are going up. The road isn’t what you’d call wide, and the drop-offs are what you’d call steep). Monte S. Maria Tiberina (now going as MSMT, and now I’m getting acronymic) is a very old town, with folks habiting where it’s at about as long as folks have been around. In Etruscan times it was a trading post, where the Etruscans on one side of the Tiber would try to get the best of the Umbrians on the other side. For about 1000 medieval years, it was run by the powerful Bourbon del Monte family (and yes, that’s one reason I wanted to visit it, and no, there was not a store full of bourbon, which is a missed opportunity I feel), and because of this family association for many years had a license to print its own money, declare its own wars, and be one of three places in Europe where duels could be fought to the death without church repercussions. A fun spot. MSMT has a very medieval feel, in part due to there still being part of the original structure in place, including an arch you have to walk through to get into the city (and by city I mean small town) center:
Citerna. Not on quite as high a hill as MSMT (which is 688 meters above sea level, and Citerna being 482), Citerna still provides an arching drive up curvy roads, as well as pretty panoramas when you get there. We, being first time visitors, got a little off track and ended up circling the town backwards until finding a spot to park. It ended up being lucky though, as around the first corner we walked when walking into the city we came across this lovely and worn statue:
Fanette Cardinali, who was there and very friendly (I can’t say too much more or I may divulge holiday presents). After walking the town, we stopped at the café in the center to have a coffee and some of the world’s thickest hot chocolate (it was like scrumptious warm pudding), while watching two kids (about the ages of my two favorite kids, Kaiser and Coen) play soccer against a wall that has probably been there for hundreds of years, with a beautiful vista in the background: