One ferry ride, two bus rides, and one flight later we pulled into Bevagna; well, we pulled as close to Bevagna as we could. The village is a former Roman pitstop in Umbria on the Flaminia Road, the old Roman road running from Rome to the Adriatic. Consequently, with only about 4000 people and narrow winding streets, we had to park the bus on the edge of town. The drive through Umbria (the province containing Bevagna) was nice, and our first chance to see Northern Italy- lots of hill towns.
We walked into Bevagna with our instruments and baggage, a surprising pain on the cobblestones. Our hotel was awesome: it was an old monastery converted into a hotel. Subsequently it may have had the craziest floor plan I’ve ever seen. It’s also pretty strange to just happen to spend the night in a hotel that’s well older than the United States Here’s the breakfast room: swank.
For dinner we went out and had pasta with black truffles, one of the regional specialties. The next morning we began with a walking tour of the town. It was only about two hours (it’s a pretty small town…) and included stops at the candlemaker, painter, and papermaker, all of whom still operate as they did 700 years ago. Below are some beeswax candles and a nice shot of one of the three churches in the town:
It was super cool to just cruise around the alleys of the town too.
We had the afternoon free, so Ryan and I fortunately got dibs on the hotel’s two bicycles and took a ride to the nearby hill town of Montefalco for lunch. The ride was a pretty good climb (the bikes didn’t help), but after about 55 minutes we made it the 9 km to Montefalco, where a nice view awaited, not to mention some risotto cooked with the regional wine, Sagrantino…
A brief (12 minutes), somewhat harrowing ,ride back to Bevagna followed, where we quickly headed to rehearsal for our 6 PM concert. The town’s theater was perhaps the coolest part of the town, built in the 18th century as a playground for the town’s wealthy patrons. The scale is a little disorienting: the grand architecture squeezed into the small space of the theater made me feel positively Lilliputian (note the person sitting on the 2nd balcony for scale).
After the show we headed out for a medieval dinner (as a thank you from the town), since it was the city’s medieval festival; it was a little different from the typical American medieval festival, as you might imagine. The wine flowed freely, and soon enough it was morning, time to pack up and head for Firenze (Florence for us Americans). Rural Italy certainly wins over rural America…