Last week we drove to nearby Spoleto for the night. We didn’t see much, however, because we were holed up in the hotel for half the time helping the boys with homework. Tom had hours of math while Ray was studying ancient Greek history.
But the little that we saw was fantastic:
The Aqueduct: I’ve been trying to wrap my head around aqueducts since I first saw one 25 years ago. This week, I finally grasped the fundamentals and cleared up two decades of misconceptions. While I knew that aqueducts somehow transported water to thirsty towns, I never could visualize the process. Why the arches? Where is the water? I thought that maybe the aqueduct worked like some sort of bridge under which water flowed. Then later, someone told me that water streamed up and down the arches in a maze of pipes (and I believed her). Finally, this week, after an afternoon of Google searches, I learned that the arches are just part of the aqueduct (albeit the only readily visible part) whose purpose it is to support the the pipes that transports water. I learned that aqueducts can be many miles long often tunneling underground. I also learned that water doesn’t run perpendicularly under a mulit-arched bridge (duh), but rather along the top of the structure on a precisely constructed, steadily flowing, slightly tilted, downward slope. It’s simply a feat of gravity (and the ingenuity of the ancient Romans) that ensured the success of aqueducts.
The Town Cathedral: Next, we went to church, or in this case, the piazza in front of the church. There are two things the boys really miss in the crowded, stone hill towns of Umbria: grass and wide open space. So when we descended into the spacious, sunken Piazza della Duomo, the boys took off running. Rather than spend our time lingering over Fra’ Filippo’s famous fresco, we played freeze tag.
Finally, the last place we had to visit before heading back to Perugia was Il Tempio del Gusto, a trattoria that came highly recommended by a friend in Perugia. In addition to spaghetti carbonara, saffron risotto and roasted duck, we ordered a traditional Umbrian plate of cured meats, pecorino cheese, toasted breads and a sampling of olive oils. Spoleto is known for having the best oil in Umbria so before leaving, we stocked up.