Walking the dog in the fog, and tent trouble

Took Mo out for a walk early as Colin and Neil were tearing out the kitchen counter and lower cabinets.  We took the small dirt road that goes up from just below the bell tower – it goes a bit southeast then comes to a T – took the right turn heading mostly west and still going up, although more gently.

5DDD0E2E-E991-44E2-A1D6-8FB38A8C138770558663-2535-418B-A9E1-C3F42AF53463It was a very foggy morning – couldn’t see any of the beautiful countryside I was overlooking, but it was peaceful, at least until we came upon the ‘dog house’.  I could hear at least two dogs barking as we approached and noticed that there wasn’t a fence. A large german-shepherd type dog was sounding very ferocious, but he stayed in the yard until we were almost even with the house, then he bounded off the terrace and came right at us.  Mo was now barking back fiercly so I scooped her up and stayed still hoping the shepherd would back off. He didn’t – just stood there about two feet away from me barking and growling and all puffed-up. I was screaming ‘no no!’ very loudly and trying to keep hold of Mo who was desperatly trying to get out of my arms – no one came.  I finally started slowly walking the way we’d been heading and hoping like hell that we wouldn’t be attacked – the big dog followed for a bit, still barking the whole time, then he finally went back into his yard although he was still barking.

I was shaking and sweating as I got further and further away – when I judged we were far enough and the dog wouldn’t follow us I let Mo down and we continued our walk.  We eventually came to where another small dirt road veered off to the right – I wondered if we should take it but Mo seemed to want to go straight on and I let her lead.  We ended up on the main road that runs from Marsciano to Perugia so had to follow it north for about 1 ½ km to the turnoff back to Papiano. We tried hitchiking and got lucky on the third car – a very nice lady who spoke no English but knew where to let me off.

We hiked up to the house and kitchen counter cutting was happening – neither Mo nor myself cared for the noise so back down the hill we went to the bar to watch the Giro.  I had to take Mo out twice for little walks, then when she got really antsy we went for a longer walk up the hill on the other side of the village. The fog had lifted by now and the views were, or course, stunning.96591121-BC6E-4F09-9C95-E231C757825E

Back to the bar to watch the end of the day’s stage, then up to the house to check on the progress.  The oven was hooked up so we had pizza for dinner and watched a bit of Italian basketball – it’s the playoffs so the announcers are all super excited.

Friday morning was an early one – had to pack up all my gear, and head down to the campervan to clean out the fridge and wash the floors.  I took Mo with me as the kitchen reno noises are ongoing. Got everything tidy while Colin and Neil went to the tipping place again, then wheeled and rode (!) my bike down and Colin got it onto the rack on the campervan and we were off.  Stopped to fill up the fridge and headed north before 1:00.

792AAFDE-C0F6-4F2A-80A4-5E71D940EEBDKeyed in our destination and ended up, once again, on the highway north that goes thru Bagno di Romagna.  More work being done on the highway – slight detour for a few miles but not bad.

Decided to stop just north of Ravenna and continue on to Trento tomorrow – checked into a very large but nice campgound at Lido di Spina.  

Went to setup my tent and the damn frame broke. The very end of one of the main connecting poles at the top cracked and broke – we tried to fix it but it just kept cracking off bits further and further down.  Luckily I did have the option of the campervan so lay out my sleeping bag inside, but I was very disappointed about the tent.

We went to the bar for a drink before dinner, then had to go to the office to get their wi-fi password.  At the restaurant I looked up about getting a new frame for the tent. I might have to order one from the store I bot it at and have it shipped over to France.  The campground has an awesome pool area, including a special one for kids, as well as an outside theatre and other activities.

088C30ED-1ECE-4C5A-B76B-193557536EE0Dinner was wonderful – Colin had pasta with shellfish and I had pasta al ragu – it was excellent.  Mo was very good and sat quietly on the floor the whole time. As we left the restaurant thru the exit that leads back to the bar we were met by a group of 4 of the staff – kind of a welcoming committee to the evening’s music, etc.  We weren’t staying for the festivities but still chatted with them for a bit – they all made a fuss over Mo, as usual. One of the young fellows is the archery instructor – like I said, lots of different activities here.

Back at the campervan went straight to bed – a kind of exciting day as the ‘travel’ part of my journey has now begun.


Race 1 – Giro/Assisi to Osimo

Up at seven, cup of tea and quick bite to eat, then on the road with Colin.  We were headed for the Giro stage that goes today from Assisi to Osimo and were planning on seeing it from somewhere up the Passo di Termine, the first climb of the day.  We stopped at the bar in the village for help with the maps and directions, then keyed our destination into the campervan’s GPS.


I tried to follow where we were but lost track – we ended up taking a more southerly route that led us right by Pian di Boccio (the campground where we originally met last year).  It looked rather full with many tents that all looked the same – figured it must be a large group of some sort. We certainly took the scenic route to Foligno!

Sailed right past the outskirts of Foligno and into the Appenines heading north.  Just a few km past the city we hit a bunch of very slow traffic – seems we were behind some cyclists that had support cars etc. with them.  It was very slow going, then we left the main highway to go thru Nocera Umbra, which was where the cyclists were also going. Colin thought they must be wealthy folks that pay big bucks to ride the Giro route and have all the support, including police and ambulance (as well as a black car that looked like a hearse!).

68638BA6-39DF-4AEE-8FD4-91A406C38E28Shortly after we passed thru one of the villages on the route there was no oncomig traffic so we pulled out to pass – they did not like that!  We got several very black looks and a couple of shouts thrown our way, then when we were almost past them we were forced to pull back and get behind them again – what a drag.  A 5 minute drive took what seemed like an hour. All of the towns and villages along the way were decorated to the nines – it seemed like every bike in each place was covered with pink bows and ribbons and setup on the side of the road.

We were now looking for a place to pull over and watch the race from as we were nearing the top of the pass – the cyclists and their entourage pulled in at the summit, which had a large parking area so we pulled in also and found a great place to park.  The German fellow in the campervan next to us told us the the cyclists were riding Pinerollo bikes with motors – wonder now why the one fellow was hanging onto the support van most of the way up the hill.

327DE95D-BCF1-4309-B4BE-A3BB07216FDDHad a walk around the area – the summit has a banner and barricades and everything – also lots of police and they just kept coming.  There are wonderful views in both directions from the top of the hill across the road from where we’re parked. Someone is flying a beautiful kite – actually it’s tied to a bush and didn’t need anyone to run it as it flew just fine by itself.

D0386169-37CB-4A3B-A53C-028990917C746F376B62-2E3E-4C2B-8EA3-202267438C17Coming back from the walk on the hill I heard a couple of ladies talking and looked at their license plate – it was Italian but they weren’t.  I asked where they were from and they both said Canada – I told them where I’m from and they both laughed and said they were from Calgary but one of them has a daughter that lives in Kelowna.

The caravan/cavalcade blew thru at high speed and didn’t throw out any goodies at all, although there were more of them than I remember from last year.

Colin and I each staked out our spots about an hour before the racers came by – I was about 5 or 6 feet from the summit line right under the banner and Colin was a bit further along nearer the bend.  I had two very nice older Italian fellows to my right and a man and woman to my left. I made sure I wouldn’t be in the men’s way and that I would have a clear view for taking photos to my left – no problems!

The racers were, as usual, preceeded by a heli in the air and a bunch of police cars and motos on the road.  There was at first 2 riders, then a bit later two more, followed by a single rider, then the peloton. They were going at a fair pace since it wasn’t that steep a climb.  We could feel the wash of the heli’s rotors it was so close – it seemed very warm compared to the rather chilly air.

59740C8A-E660-4547-8E58-3E77736AF277I got some really good photos and they’re almost all clear and in-focus.  Got decent shots of Dumoulin, Aru, and the Froomester.

Within 5 seconds of the last rider passing the barriers were being torn apart and the parking lot started to empty.  We were the only vehicle heading back down the way we’d come – all the other cars and vans followed the way the racers had gone.  We passed a few folks walking down and a few more guys on bikes but no other vehicles – it was kind of weird.

Stopped at Leroy & Merlin on the way home and Colin was finally able to pick up the kitchen counter.  It was still kind of early so we popped by Poppy’s before going up to the house. Neil was just cleaning up so we walked back down to Poppy’s until he finished up and came down to join us.

Had another roast chicken dinner – this time thighs, followed by early bed.


Village view

Had a really nice long walk with Mo-mo after breakfast and while Colin and Neil were at the tipping place.  We went down thru the village and up the hill on the other side. Walked past the big church and partway up the next hill.

There were great views back across the valley to the medieval village – we could clearly see Colin’s pinkish house not far below the bell tower.  

EF4B7495-0298-4317-AB81-9AD86C492C95On our way back down there were two older ladies on the back deck of the church so I waved to them.  One of them came over to the gate as I passed so we talked for a bit. I told her Mo’s name, then mine and that I was from Canada.  She said Mo was cute and a couple other things I couldn’t quite understand but that was ok.

541CA6D2-50BB-4D57-940D-DDB1572888D9Back in the village we were going to stop at the other bar but it was closed so, by default we ended up at Poppy’s for a brief time.  Back up the hill at home had a late lunch – no Giro today as it’s a rest day.

2CF69EDF-935C-4EE0-B7FF-4B7D1C3DAE1DThey finally delivered the pavers after Colin called again and again and finally reached someone who understood that they just had to deliver them today.  Colin and Neil were then busy and a guy came around to suss out the air conditioning setup so I took Mo back down to the bar for a while to keep her out of the way.

Had pizza for dinner again as we didn’t make it to the store today to stock up.  Early to bed, except I read again longer than I should have.

Tuesday/15th was a bit of a lazy day for me – kept Mo inside as Colin had gone once again to Perugia and Neil was busy in the courtyard.  I tried to do yoga with Mo upstairs with me to keep her out of Neil’s way but she wasn’t happy with that. I took her for a short walk, then settled in to watch Italian tv and read.  Mo was then very happy to cuddle down on my lap wrapped up in my black blankie.

It poured rain off and on so Neil didn’t get that much done outside, but what he did do with the pavers looks great.  After Colin got home we went into Marsciano for more food and had a delicious roast chicken-breast dinner. A bit earlier to bed as tomorrow will be up a bit earlier.


Cats and Dogs



After a quick chi-gong went with Colin into Marsciano for some food, then up to Perugia to the home-store to get kitchen lights, etc.  Took Mo into Leroy and Merlin (the home-store) with us – dogs are allowed almost everywhere here, even in the little grocery store in Papiano yesterday.  I did have to keep her behind a display at one point as there was another little jack russell at a nearby cashier, but it was all ok.

Had a bite to eat back at the house then Colin had to return to L&M as he’d gotten the wrong kind of lights for the kitchen.  He also picked up some more kitchen cabinet stuff that he’d ordered but is still waiting for delivery of the countertop as well as pavers for the courtyard.  While he was out I took Mo for a walk – we’ve gone down several different lanes in the medieval part of the village that Colin’s house is in and I’m starting to get to know the area better.

Went home and watched the end of the day’s Giro – Froome lost over a minute on the final climb – boo-hoo (I mean haha – oops I shouldn’y say that…).  After the race was over for the day we all walked down to the bar for a quick one – on the way home Mo stopped to say hello to one of the local dogs.

Most of the cats continue to ignor her so she pretends to ignore them.

The two guards in the yard of a house the next lane down bark like mad whenever anyone comes near – they seem pretty ferocious and I’m glad there’s a sturdy fence.

1582449C-8E76-4287-ABDD-AD5C38DFBA85Colin made some pasta bolognese for dinner that was delicious – headed to bed shortly after.  Started reading a ‘Jack Reacher’ book and it’s still hard to think of the character, who’s 6’5” being played by Tom Cruise in at least 2 (or maybe 3) films.  He must wear lifts in his shoes and perhaps stand on a small chair.



Quick visit and lots of hill climbing

Finally did yoga and did it ever feel good – I was starting to feel a bit stiff and it did wonders. Went down into the village and got some fresh bread from the little supermarket – you just tell her which loaf you’d like and how large a piece and she cuts off a chunk for you.

Colin was meeting some friends across the road from the store at the other bar so I joined them – got complimentary pastries filled with custard and a bowl of peanuts. They came back up to see Colin’s house and then left on their way – both couples (Kay and Mike, and Barbara and Mike) have places in Italy, nearer to Rome and were on a small trip together to see other parts of the country.

Took Mo for a walk further up the hill past the bell tower and followed what I thought was a small road hoping it would take me over the hill and then west, but it turned out to be someone’s driveway so we had to turn back. There were some really good views of the area, though.

9345DD43-1751-422B-B878-0F002F8F6855Watched the first half of today’s Giro, then had to change the channel as usual. Colin was out helping Neil with the courtyard fence while I went with Mo back to the village to get a few things for dinner and watch the end of the stage at Poppy’s bar. When I walked in there were several older men watching a football match – they understood when I asked about the cycling and told me I’d have to wait until half-time which was about 10 or 15 minutes – Perugia was playing and it was a very important match that they just couldn’t miss. I understood about the importance to them – Perugia is the local team and of course they wanted to see the game.

Rather than wait until half-time and maybe miss the end of the race Mo and I hoofed it double-time back up the hill – of course she chose this time to stop and do some business. I didn’t have any proper doggie-doo bags with me so I improvised by using the bag that the onion had been in – luckily there was a receptacle part way up the hill so I didn’t have to carry it far. As any other cat person knows – we don’t have to do this for our babies!

Managed to catch the final 10 km or so of the race, then went back down the hill one more time with Colin to the bar. Sat outside and had a drink, then Neil joined us for a bit before going back up to the house – three trips down and up today and my legs are feeling it.

Had a nice mushroom and cheese omelette with Greek salad for dinner. Face-timed Dominic after dinner – Sly has been sleeping in my closet since I left, although he did venture back onto the bed last night. He had done all he could to keep me from leaving and is obviously missing me as much as I miss him. Merlin is much more independent but I know he misses me too.

I stayed awake longer than I should have – I just had to read a few more pages, then a few more of the James Patterson book I was reading – finished it just before midnight.

Demolition and Bunny Ears

After breakfast Colin went out for a meeting while I stayed at the house to help get things ready for the kitchen demolition. I removed everything from all of the cupboards and put the dishes in the cabinet that the previous owners had left and everything else stacked in a corner or on the table. I was still emptying the last cupboard when Neil was already tearing down the other ones.

D780F0F4-C6F5-4567-A9BC-F1D5FEB9A8ADWalked down to the bar with Colin to watch the end of the day’s Giro, then went with him to get some groceries in Marsciano. After that it was up to Perugia to the home supply store to check on the status of what he had ordered. Many things are there for pick up except for the stove hood that will be another week or so. There will be enough other things to keep Neil busy, though.

While cleaning out the cupboards earlier I had moved the tv antenna a few inches to the side so I could put some things on the window sill and it dramatically changed the tv’s reception – apparently it’s extremely sensitive and I totally messed it up. We all took turns trying to adjust it to little avail.

Had a late dinner of chicken curry over basmati rice, then fairly early to bed.

Friday morning I slept in a bit – jet lag catching up with me I guess. Colin and Neil went to Marsciano to pick up some stuff while I watched Italian tv – their coverage of the Giro is far more than what I got at home. There’s about 2 hours of pre-race stuff, including lots of info about the start and finish towns and sites along the route. I can understand less than half of what they say – they talk so fast – but I can usually get the gist of what they’re talking about. About half way thru the race there was what I thought was a really long commercial – I finally figured out that it was actually a different show and I had to change the channel to continue watching the race.

Neil managed to fix the tv reception – the antenna is now about a foot from where it used to be and the ‘bunny ears’ are in a completely different position but it works perfectly once again.

After the day’s race was finished we headed down to the bar for a couple of drinks. My first glass of wine was bit off so with the second I got a free bottle of water. Unfortunately I didn’t look at the label when I chose the bottle and was un-pleasantly surprised when I opened it and it was fizzy. I choked down a couple of gulps and gave the rest to Colin.

There are lots of cats in the village and Mo knows where every one of them are. She’s actually fairly unaggressive to most of them – if they run she’ll try to go after them but if they just sit and look at her she doesn’t seem to know what to do. The village has many beautiful little touches such as window dressings and old murals on walls. There are also parts of very old ruined walls covered with ivy here and there.

Back at the house we had pizza for dinner and another fairly early night.

Leaving home for Umbria

Left home at 8:15 on May 8th – beautiful morning and lovely views of the city and the lake as we flew over.

DCDBBD19-4E43-4546-924E-A16D242599EFThe wait in Vancouver was a bit long at almost 3 hours, and when they announced that there might not be enough room for all the carry-on luggage I checked my backpack for free – they assured me it would arrive in Rome they same time I would.

5D7A1803-5210-43F5-B3F4-3C23F7B957CCThe flight to TO was ok – great views of all of the mountains lakes and rivers between the coast and the AB boarder, then nothing but clouds most of the rest of the way. That’s ok – not much to see anyway. Watched a bit of tv, and a really interesting documentary about Hedy Lamarr. It did clear up as we approached TO, and got great views of the city – not nearly as spectacular as Vancouver, however, but then not that many cities are.

E7B88DA4-B50D-4827-A766-95A70691965AMet a couple of Cdns (from Vancouver Island) that were connecting to the same flight with me and they were pretty happy when I told them I knew where the train from Fiumicino into Rome was – we agreed to meet at the baggage area after we landed so they could follow me. The final leg of the journey to Rome was long but uneventful – watched several episodes of Big Bang, and couple of pretty funny movies. Again it was overcast almost the whole way but did clear up as we approached Rome.

Landed right on time and cleared customs no problem although the customs guy looked at my passport, and then gave me a funny look. I pointed to my now very short hair and he said ‘looks better now’ – I agreed.

Collected my two bags – the backpack did arrive safely, thank goodness. At least it didn’t get left behind in Canada like my bike did last year. Met Judy and Jeff (the two from the Island) as planned at the baggage collection place and we all headed to the exit and over to the trains. They ended up getting a shuttle bus into the city instead so we said a quick goodbye as I ran for my train.

I didn’t have much time to catch my connection to Foligno so I had to run what seemed like miles to the farthest track possible. In addition to the backpack I had, of course, my camera case over my shoulder and my other two bags that were tied together into one heavy, awkward package so it wasn’t easy – although it wasn’t as difficult as last year dragging the bike box so I shouldn’t complain. I tried to log into the station’s wi-fi but my ipad gave me a message that it wasn’t secure and I should log off. I quickly sent Colin a message about what train I was going to be on so he could meet me in Foligno.

I waited along with a couple dozen others for our train to board, but then there was an announcement that it wouldn’t leave for an hour. They had sent us all to the wrong track as the train we should have been on was slowly pulling out and passing us on the next track over. I confirmed several times with other folks that we were now waiting on the proper track for the proper train.

We did leave finally at 2:28 and it took just over an hour and a half to reach Foligno – I recognized some of the passing towns as it was the same route I took last year. Just before we reached Foligno it started raining – by the time we dis-embarked it was pouring pretty hard. Colin wasn’t there to meet me – I assumed he either didn’t get my message, or had met the train an hour earlier and I wasn’t on it. Hoping he was somewhere close by having a coffee or something I tried to find a place in the station with wi-fi so I could contact him – no luck.

The rain was really pounding down but I took a chance and lugged my bag across the road to the lovely little hotel I stayed at last year. It was a different front-desk guy but he was just as nice as Anil had been last year. He let me use their wi-fi so I could message Colin, who immediately responded and said to hang tight and he’d be here in about an hour – he hadn’t received my original message as they all arrived at once when I logged in at the hotel. The front desk fellow let me stash my bag and backpack in the hotel’s office while I went out to the old town to find something to eat.

It was still raining hard, but I was so soaked it didn’t matter any more. I found a very nice lady that directed me to a bank machine so I could get out some euros, then another lady directed me to a place where I could get a bit of wine. The store was closed but there was a shop next door that sold excellent cheese, prosciutto and – wine! I asked for ‘vino tinto’ and she looked very confused and I pointed and repeated ‘vino tinto’. There was a younger lady there that spoke english so I said I wanted some red wine – only then did I realize I had reverted to spanish (which was the last language I studied in full) – no wonder the older lady hadn’t understood me! The bottle had a cork so they opened it for me and stuck the cork back in so I could get it open later.

I then headed to the turkish kebab shop I had gone to last year and got the same thing – a huge donair wrap. I chatted with the owner while I waited and he was super happy when I told him I’d been to Turkey many years ago and loved it. I told him where I’d been, and recognized Agia Sofia on a poster on the wall – he thought it was great.

The rain was abating a bit by now and when I got back to the hotel I went into the courtyard (where I’d put my bike back together last year) and ate part of the donair and sipped wine from the bottle at a table under an awning while watching the end of the day’s Giro stage on tv thru the window.

Knowing that Colin’s campervan wouldn’t fit into their driveway I collected by bags and went out to the sidewalk to wait for him. I would highly recommend the Villa dei Platani to anyone that ever happens to be in Foligno – I have been there twice now while only actually staying the night the first time and both experiences were extremely pleasant. Both Anil the first time and the fellow the second time (didn’t get his name) were so helpful and kind right when I needed it.

8EDEFC26-EDDF-4EB1-B055-2B3581ED212EColin arrived and it was just like old times – found a 5 euro note on the ground right in front of the van and took it as a sign of good luck ahead.  Loaded my stuff into the van and hit the road for Papiano.

Had a lovely salmon and chips dinner, followed by a really nice shower and early bed. Colin’s friend Neil is here to do some renovations so he is using the guest room while I get Colin’s room. He and Mo are making use of the campervan that is parked down the hill a bit.