Friday, June 15, 2012

Fuori città

On Tuesday of last week I signed up for a group tour of Spello, a small town south of Perugia, during their annual flower festival celebrating Corpus Domini, which took place this past Sunday. When I signed up, I figured that it would not only be a good way to meet new people and make more friends, but also that it would be a good excuse to go out and take more pictures. As scenic as Perugia is, I'm about all about diversity of subjects when it comes to photography.

I had no idea when I signed up, though, that I'd be in Spello twice this past weekend. On Thursday, I happily accepted an impromptu invitation from one of my Korean classmates to go with her and a friend on Saturday. After all, I thought, how many times will I actually get to visit Spello? So, after sleeping in until 11 on Saturday morning, I headed out to meet my friend Sophia and her friend Angela at Pizzeria Mediterranea in the center city around 1:00 pm. We each ordered different things and sampled a little bit of each--they were all delicious!

The calzoni Angela ordered.

After lunch, we went on our way toward the train station via Mini Metro. The ticket to Spello via train was only 3.20 euros -- cheap! Not to mention the ride was pleasant and there was plenty of space in the train. After we arrived in Spello, we walked around for a few hours just touring the town. Angela and Sophia had hoped to see some of the flower artwork from l'Infiorata out already, but most people were just beginning to set up. It wouldn't be until Sunday that the actual festival would take place. 

Even though the main attraction wasn't ready, there was plenty to see in Spello. The town can be described in many ways, but I think the best words are quiet and picturesque. Take a look for yourself:

The three hours or so we spent in Spello that day included touring the town, eating gelato, taking pictures, and buying postcards. All in all, it was a successful day. We left Spello around 5:30 pm and made it back to Perugia at 6:00 pm. On the train ride back, one passenger got into a heated discussion with the ticket inspector. Not sure what became of that.

The next day I was up at 6:00 am getting ready for the day trip to Spello and the only waterfalls in the Umbria region, called le Cascate delle Marmore, with a group from Stranieri. Our group of 30 or so departed from Perugia at about 7:15 in a tour bus. The tour guide, Riccardo, cracked jokes and explained a little about what was going to happen in Spello during the ride. He spoke slower than most other Italians, which he said was to make sure everyone could understand at least a little of what he was saying. The group had people on it ranging from all levels of Italian language proficiency.

By the time we arrived in Spello, there were big crowds all over. Tents selling flower-related products had been set up near the entrance to the city overnight. After we got off the bus, we were given directions to return by 1:30 pm and then were left to roam the town on our own. At first, I floated around looking for good picture-taking opportunities and a group to tag along with. About twenty minutes in, a group of four Dominican-American girls invited me to tag along with them. I am sure they could tell I was looking for someone to hang out with -- and I am glad they did, because I had a blast that day with them! 

Over the next four hours, we walked up and down the town taking pictures and marveling at the art the townspeople had created over night. Below, two samples of the fantastic art, the first of which was my favorite: 

After watching a procession from the church at 11:30ish, we decided to take a break from walking and find a place to eat. This was harder than we imagined as most places were packed with people. After a few tries, we found a bar with a garden area. The view here was spectacular. Looking out at the mountains as we waited for our food and talked was a treat. 

A bar with a view!
We finished eating just in time to take a bathroom break and some of us got gelato before boarding the bus. At 1:30 we were on the road again, this time on our way to "le Cascate delle Marmore." On our way there, the group made the decision to stop by a place called "le Fonti del Clitunno," a beautiful park and small lake with blue-green water surrounded by weeping willows. We were only there for about an hour, and at 3:00 pm we were on the bus once again. After Riccardo finished giving his pre-arrival speech loaded with jokes and info about the waterfalls, I took a nap.

I woke up as we arrived at le Cascate delle Marmore, a few minutes before 4. It didn't take long before we set our eyes on the waterfalls. They were simply incredible. If you got close enough to the rail, you were sprayed with the falling water. The waterfalls aren't natural; like many other things in Italy's Umbria region (nicknamed the "green heart of Italy"), they were made by the Romans.

This weekend I learned that I love waterfalls. 

The picture above was taken from the base of the waterfall, where we started off. From here, we had a good half hour hike up a hill to reach the top. Along the way, I kept stumbling, which is odd because anyone who knows me well knows I'm incredibly graceful (not). Halfway up the path, there was a fork where you could choose to keep going up or instead walk through a cave that led to a small ledge that was right next to the waterfalls. The entire group went toward the second path and everyone had a turn going out onto the ledge and getting soaked by the waterfall.

Honestly, that was one of the best moments of the entire weekend! I bet there are few things that make you feel as alive as standing right next to a roaring waterfall and getting drenched! Now soaking wet, we made our way through the cave, took a picture and returned to the fork in the path to keep going up. About twenty minutes later, we were finally at the top! Obviously, this meant more picture taking opportunities!

At the top of the waterfall with my new friends: Estefania, Ivelisse, Arlleen & Omaira!

We ended up looking around a few souvenir shops and eating some ice cream before heading back down. As we passed the waterfall near its base again, we caught sight of a rainbow. Appropriate way to end a fantastic weekend? I think so!

I'm posting this on a Friday, so I'm looking forward to another of these adventures this weekend in Venice! Here are a few more waterfall shots to end this post:

Back at the base!

Camera tricks.

The exclamation mark!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you love waterfalls although even someone who hated waterfalls would fall in love with that. Thanks for sharing all of this!