Friday, June 24, 2011

Gubbio and bird cage mountain lifts

After Venice, we traveled to Gubbio. Gubbio is in Umbria and Umbria is a quiet part of Italy with hills and orchards and mountains. It was a five hour train ride/bus ride. On the train, I had packed a bottle of pesto and bread and cheese for the journey. And, much to my horror, the pesto jar leaked all over my belongings in my green travel bag. Train washrooms don't have running water and there were no paper towels either, so I wasn't quite sure how to rectify the situation. I decided to be methodical about it all. So I pulled out one of my scarves, a scarf of no particular value to me, and one at a time, I began to clean the green oily mixture off of everything in my hand bag. Eventually, a fellow traveler- a traveler prepared for all occasions- gave me handi-wipes. (And handy they were!) Needless to say, my romantic idea of having a picnic lunch on the train while reading my Charlotte Bronte novel, did not pan out. However, I did smell like a delicious plate of pasta by the time I arrived in Gubbio.

We tasted the most incredible food in Gubbio. This medieval town, with its grey foot stones, is known for its truffles. The chef at the restaurant offered to give us a plate with a little taste of this and a little taste of that (all from the "primo" section of the menu. I do not think I have tasted anything so delicious in my entire life. Don't ask me to tell you what the items were. All I can say is they had bits of black truffle in them and that the name of the restaurant was La Cantina. The next night, we ate in an equally delicious restaurant. The entire town is saturated with amazing chefs and food.

The next day, we took took a cable car up a mountain. But it wasn't a cable car. It was actually a cage that would properly fit one person, though we were fitted two to a 'car'. The cage didn't stop for us as it came round the corner so it was a bit like hopping a train, except for the fact that the cage door also had to be first opened and then closed, once we were inside of it. But oh the glories of gliding up that mountain. Mist in the sky. Poppies in bloom. An medieval city below where every single rooftop had clay shingles. I wished for that ride to last all day. Once at the top, we entered a Basilica, the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo. I can't begin to describe the churches in Italy. They're all designed to lift our poor spirits from the shadows and into the divine. If it isn't enough that there is incredible frescos and glass windows, throw in a monk singing Gregorian chant or a choir practicing for an upcoming service.

On our way down the mountain, we decided to walk, rather than take the bird cage car. Half way down, we found a small chapel (no big surprise to find random chapels in Italy). There we had a lunch and this time, I properly secured the pesto jar!


  1. such a lovely sketch of the bird cages! this really should become a book.

  2. Eleanor, I love your blog. I'm sad that I didn't realize that you were missing dad so much. He was a wonderful, supportive, gentle and kind father. I'm sure you'll have special memories slip into your life everyday - it's gift from dad. Mary