For the past month, weekends have been dedicated to travel. We’re only here a year, and there are so many cities to see. On Saturdays, we usually meet the boys at school and head out for the night. While we each have different interests and priorities, we’re learning how to explore new places together. Gubbio proved to be a good attempt, but left much to be desired.
In theory, Gubbio is a must-see. Our guidebook describes it as the most thoroughly medieval of Umbrian towns with picture-book pretty streets. It also hosts a 900-year-old festival every May called the Corso dei Ceri. It’s considered one of the most lively, rough and exciting festivals in Italy next to Sienna’s Palio. I thought a town with this kind of edgy, competitive spirit might appeal to the boys, so we booked a room for the night.
Once we arrived, we knew we’d need to make some compromises with the kids if we wanted to spend time meandering up and down cobblestone streets while stopping into the occasional museum or church, so we found a hotel with a pool. Unfortunately, the pool seemed designed more for meditation than Marco Polo. There were contemplative, soft-edged shapes emerging from the ceiling and corners; there was droney spa music everywhere; and there were doors leading to hydrotherapy tubs that were restricted to adults only.
To make matters even weirder, big bathrobes and yellow flip flops along with swim caps were required in order to enter the pool area. There were video cameras keeping tabs on everyone. We saw a man get in trouble for not wearing his swim cap. And I got in trouble for letting the boys jump in the water and make a splash.
After a few hours of quiet swim time, we figured it was fair to start our city tour. We misjudged how close the historic center of town was to our hotel, so by the time we arrived at the main piazza, the kids were ready for bed.
On Sunday, we got smart and rented Elf. The boys stayed in the room for nearly two hours watching Will Farrell while we explored Piazza Grande and tried to get into the Etruscan Museum before it closed.
We met the boys back at the hotel for lunch where, to our disbelief, they were each served a small glass of prosecco (yet another indication that the staff was not used to children.) Ray was excited; he’s often asking us for sips when we pour a glass. Tom, on the other hand, never wants to taste wine, but he made an exception. Later he commented that while he didn’t like the taste, he kept wanting more.
On our way out of town, we finally found something for everyone to enjoy: a tram with little cages that lifted us to a church perched on the highest lookout over the city. Inside was the nearly completely preserved patron saint of Gubbio, San Ubaldo. He was suspended in a glass coffin above an alter. The only thing missing were his three fingers which were cut off by his manservant as a memento to their friendship.