Thursday, February 25, 2010

In search of Bagnaia and the Villa Lante

We have been urged and urged to go to Bagnaia and see the Villa Lante gardens.

We are a bit reluctant about instruction and straightforward travel, so we did stop along the way. First, to photograph the railway station at Fornacchia, several km out of Soriano, surely one of the prettiest stations you can find.

Then, just 5 km from Bagnaia we went the other way to Vitorchiano, see previous entry. And from there we found ourselves on the road further afield to Grotte Santo Stefano, along the way passing through lovely hill country...

and then, with the sky clear and bright and the day getting hot, first a field of broad beans, then sheep, including a young black lamb

until, in the warmth of the businesslike but siesta-stopped (1 to 4pm) village of Grotte Santo Stefano, we admired the colours of town life...

and ate lunch outside the council offices, front door open but inner door left, main counter, shut for lunch, inner door right saying social worker comes last Friday of the month, staircase to geology museum locked.

When we eventually got to Bagnaia, we were entranced by this elderly woman carrying a sprig of wattle, coming awkwardly and stiffly down a hill from whatever distance, to this shrine at the stream below the town.

We had coffee in Bagnaia. It is a bit like but less dramatic than Vitorchiano in being a village planted on top of a mass of lava and ash heavily compressed, around which softer ash has been eroded. It differs from Vitorchiano in that a rich nobleman stuck a garden in the edge of the town, a short walk from coffee. It also differs from Vitorchiano in that even in the dead of winter there is that whiff of suck-the-tourist, here also resent the tourist, that soured the experience of Siena a bit and makes a distance from the locals.

Anyway, while we were having coffee an enormously loud storm rolled in and dropped the temperature rapidly and rain pelted. We drove up the lane. We can say we saw the Villa Lante. But we would have been mugs to get out of the car in that weather, even though the car park was empty.

We were again a few km from home. We got home three hours later. AND .... gurgles Helen next morning .... we decided that to get to Rome next day we would catch the bus, so as to arrive same day!!

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