I’ve known Pall for a few years now, and Birgit just about as long as Pall. She lives near me in California, and he has been living in Riomaggiore, one of the villages of Cinque Terre, for about a dozen years. When they found time to visit me here in Spello during a lull in his trekking business, and while Birgit was visiting Pall, I was delighted to hear such good news. For them, it’s a six-hour combination of train rides to get here, and they have been coming to visit me in Spello since the day I signed the purchase contract—and were here with me to help me move in that same day, spent the first week here with me, and helped me to get furniture chosen, purchased, carried here and assembled (three years ago, almost to the day).
Leonardo and I met them at the station in his car to bring them up the hill to my place, and our time together began well. We had a wonderful dinner across the piazza at Nazzareno’s, with some good wines, then we eased into the next day, and took the train to Foligno to rent a car and spend the day together on the road, tasting wines and touring the countryside across the valley. Beginning at Adanti Winery, near Bevagna, we stopped to buy olive oil (it was very good last year) and taste wines, and we had a wonderful day planned.
Pall asked to taste a sagrantino there, and Birgit also tried a glass—but we left with just olive oil for each of us, and no wines. On the way out to the highway, they stopped the car so that I could photograph the vineyard’s grapes still on the vines, since the “vendemmia” (wine grape harvest) had already begun, and I got just a couple of photographs before we headed out across the valley.
I continued all day, taking many photos, as we drove through Montefalco, and then Spoleto. We had a wonderful lunch on the mountain behind La Roca in Spoleto, near a Franciscan monastery and in the woods at the top of the mountain, with a wood fire just beside our table to keep Birgit comfortable . We stopped at Saio Winery in the afternoon, meeting our friend Agnese and picking up a dozen bottles of my favorite Sangiovese wine there, and getting the opportunity to see the mechanical harvester go up and down the rows of vines blowing off the grapes into bins (for sale to other wineries—their own wine grapes are only harvested by hand). We took Birgit for a tour of Santa Maria degli Angeli, to see the small chapel inside the huge church—the spot where San Francesco died beside the tiny church he called his own (“the Porziucola”). After a pizza at a favorite restaurant nearby for dinner, we headed home for the night. Our day went so well, and Birgit and I kept our cameras handy, documenting the entire adventure, sharing photos with each other all day from our own cameras.
The next day, it was already time for them to head back to Riomaggiore, so we returned the car to Foligno. They headed out on the train from there, while I took a bus back to Spello. I was smiling knowing that I’d packed a wonderful surprise “train picnic” for them, from the many foods I’d chosen to feed them here, but we’d eaten out at nearly every opportunity. I knew they’d be delighted to keep unwrapping item after item of really special treats to snack on during their long trip home.
I came home, downloaded the hundreds of photos I’d taken for the three days, and put them into a file, to hold them until I could post this blog. When I began to sort photos and prepare to write other blog posts, I came to the file for Pall and Birgit’s visit—and there were only a few photos (and I’d already erased my memory card, and taken more photos since their visit). I have no idea if I interrupted the upload somehow, but I searched and searched all of my files for those shots, and never found one more. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump (sort of), “Excrement exists.” Darn.
So here is the representative photo—an empty wine glass, with none of us in the photo. No joy. No photos, no record of the day we had together. And there should have been a couple hundred photos from which to choose the best ones—I know I was making a special effort to document our days, and somehow the photos were all lost.
The disappointment of losing the photos doesn’t take away a bit of the great time we had together, and I’m just sorry that I cannot share those good moments and look back on them in the photos I captured, since I somehow messed up that plan. Darn it. This is a mystery I may never be able to unravel.