Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Trip Over the Hills to Preggio and Beyond

We usually, when leaving the house to go farther than our local towns (being the twin cities, Lisciano Niccone and Mercatale), heading into Umbria (or Le Marche), go along an East-rolling-and-curving-road (the SS something or other) that’s a small highway, taking us through towns and fields to Niccone, where we either turn left to Verna (where Nestor’s is) and such or right to Umbertide and bigger highways. There’s another road from Umbertide that heads to Cielo Chiaro, but it’s mountainous and via a small hill town we’d never visited before called Preggio. We’d driven past the Umbertide exit for this route, I dunno, hundreds of times, but finally recently decided to take it. It was a fairly swell day, and it ended up being a wonderful drive. Firstly, because there were tons of vistas on each side as we drove:
and then all-of-sudden we went around a corner and saw this stately-but-homey castle:
Someone lives there (lots of “privato strada” signs), and what I say is: “lucky them.” Dang. Who gets to live in a castle like this up in a remote part of the Umbrian hills? George Clooney’s second Italian home perhaps? We passed many attractive smaller houses, too, a couple eating spots tucked into the hills, and one handsome horse who decided he was going to try and open the gate to visit us:
After about, oh, fifteen or twenty minutes we came upon Preggio (which is about say 14 kilometers from our house after driving a “U”), which was a lovely little hill town:
Mostly famous for its chestnut (or “castagna”) festival when loads of folks descend (enough that there’s a whole parking lot outside the town for folks coming to it), Preggio is another picturesque example of a hill town tourists rarely even drive by. Which is shame, because we spent oh, twenty minutes walking around its attractive stone streets, looking at the church, which has an super intriguing, pagan-y-folk-art-y cross on the side:
and at the views into and off the edge of the town:
There’s also a snug restaurant (La Castagna) that wasn’t open for lunch (when we were there), but which we can’t wait to go back to for an evening meal. Now, sometimes, isn’t it better to go the backroads?

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