Since You’ve Been Gone.

Spello, Umbria

Spello, Umbria

It is almost a year since we left Spello in Umbria, Italy, after a wonderful 3 month stay. Previous posts have detailed the people we were fortunate to befriend and the places we visited. We hoped we would return someday, and here we are in summer 2014 making that hope a reality. Three weeks this time rather than 3 months, but still lots of time to catch up with old friends and revisit special places.

Approaching Spello by train from Rome was a new experience. Rome’s main railway station is a huge travel hub – 29 platforms radiating trains in all directions. Train travel in Italy is fast, efficient and cheap, so the train was thronged with commuters, students and the odd tourist.

The plains on the outskirts of Rome gave way to deeply wooded hills and valleys, wide rivers and arable fields. We plunged into dark tunnels, emerging into bright sunlight. High on a hill were the crumbling ruins of an ancient castellated tower, greened with ivy. Along the tracks were industrial units feeding the giant metropolis with power, cement and wood.

At Orte, 60 kilometres north of Rome, there was a sudden surge of departing passengers. Orte was an important railway junction in the 19th century as almost all of the trains leaving Rome stopped here on their way to Florence or Ancona and all points in between. The sprawling buildings around the railway station folded the people inwards like welcoming arms.

And so to Narni, ribbon developments along the tracks and distant views of rugged mountains, their jagged peaks now blue, now green, framing the moving scenery. Neat houses with tidy yards, balconies festooned with bright summer flowers and even brighter washing, and the inevitable supermarkets and DIY outlets. At Terni the olive trees cast long shadows across the orchards and rocky peaks rise as we enter a deep gorge where the sun only reaches the tops of the trees on the upper slopes. Through Giuncano and Baiano without slowing down, and sun baked slopes of green and gold emerge, with swathes of wild flowers, poppy red, brilliant yellow and royal purple.

Familiar territory as we approach Spoleto, with its huge castle high on the hill, the town clinging to the slopes below. Happy memories of a day spent here before the train rushes on to Trevi, a classic hill town on the flanks of Mount Serano and Foligno, known for its manufacturing industries and its beautiful cathedral, churches and museums. I held my breath as we rounded a bend in the track – and there was Spello, its ancient walls of stone from Mount Subasio glowing pink in the sun. I felt a surge of happiness, just like coming home. It was so good to be back.



12 thoughts on “Since You’ve Been Gone.

  1. Kristine

    Hi Mary,
    So lovely to see another post from you……just checking emails but because I had kept all your old posts, I nearly missed the new one!!
    We have just left Spoleto(a week ago) and we are now in Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche. This year we have had 7 weeks away with most of that time spent in Italy.
    I really love reading your descriptive reports coupled with the beautiful photos, of places I have visited or hope to visit.
    If you haven’t yet been to Ascoli Piceno, it is certainly worth a visit. Another “bella citta” in Italy!
    Enjoy your return to Spello!
    Kristine and Richard (Australians you met in Spello one day last year).

    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Kristine, how wonderful to hear from you. Of course I remember you and Richard (from Hay!). This morning we are off to the very cafe where we met. It sounds as though you are having a fantastic trip. This time we are without a car, so it is not quite so easy, as you know, to visit places that are not on a train line. But we are so happy to be back in Spello at the moment that we don’t need anywhere else just yet. Enjoy your special time in Italy.

    1. maryshoobridge Post author

      Thanks Laramie. It feels like we have never been away! Last night we sat on the terrace at the very top of our bell tower and watched the sun go down – magic.

  2. maryshoobridge Post author

    Hi Debra. We will be here for the Infiorata too. We are planning to pick flowers again as a small contribution to the wonderful flower art of Spello.

  3. Helen Winter

    Hope you have a great time there again. We must arrange a get together when you get back.

  4. maryshoobridge Post author

    Hi Helen – lovely to hear from you. I apologise for being most remiss in organising a meet – I will call you when we get back and we will do something nice.

  5. Anthony Allinson

    I’ve not been to Italy for a very long time. Far too long. Each time I have been I’ve gassed about by train and recall being fed lavishly as a starving student by a wonderful couple who had sacks of fabulous food in huge bags for their journey to Rome.

    They thought my measly stash of ryvita and tinned sardines a culinary crime.

    Quite why a 21 year old, in theory travelling round Europe with his dad’s Access card was so poorly supplied is another story.

    Have a wonderful time in Spello and tell us all about it.


  6. maryshoobridge Post author

    I recall when we left Spello last year, our host’s mother (a truly delightful lady) packed us the biggest food parcel you can imagine. It fed us for breakfast and lunch for 2 days! There is such a generosity around food in Italy – sharing food experience is one of the things that keeps me coming back. And it must be about time that you gave Italy another shot – beautiful scenery, art, culture, friendly people, great food and wine….there truly is nothing to dislike!


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