Wednesday, August 11, 2004


August 10, 2004

Boy did THIS post cause some problems! As usual, I have to give you some background first.

When I started to blog, I would usually read the article to Art…to get his feedback, to see if I had forgotten to mention something important, and also just so that we could re-live the experience together. In retrospect, I guess part of me was also proud to show off my writing skills and to get positive feedback about it.

As time went on and I began to write more and more, I stopped reading each and every post to Art. He would see me at the computer and ask if I was blogging. I would say, I’m writing about our lunch with so and so, or about the market in Marsciano, or whatever it was. Then when I was finished I would post the article on the blog and add it to my blog folder.

Yesterday I was writing about the medieval festival that we had gone to over the weekend. Art commented that he really needed to read my blog so that he could catch up on what I’d been posting.

When I was finished writing, I asked Art if he would like to hear what I had written, not only so he could catch up, but also because we had so much fun at the festival and it would be nice to re-live it together. I started out reading, and this is the first paragraph I read…..

Rotecastello is a cute little hill town that we’ve driven past almost every day since last September, but have never visited. This was due to Art’s lack of interest (he thought it was just going to be a borgo) and to my lack of insistence. It seemed likely that we would have finally visited the town after we bought our mosaic from a couple who live there. This was back in April at the Mercato in Marsciano. But we never did seem to find the time. We were always on our way to somewhere else. On Friday we finally made it to Rotecastello.

After the first line, Art said “no, we don’t drive past it every day”, and I said “what’dya mean…of course we do!” Then he said “but it’s not on the same road”. Okay…technically true, BUT…ALTHOUGH Rotecastello IS reached by turning off the road to San Venanzo (the SS317), it’s visible for nearly a mile while we drive on the SS 317. The road curves around, and Rotecastello sits on a hilltop just off to the side of the road. It didn’t seem necessary to bog the story down with the minute details of how to reach Rotecastello. So…I continued on to the second sentence…..

This was due to Art’s lack of interest (he thought it was just going to be a borgo) and to my lack of insistence.

And I heard Art gasping and groaning behind me. What!?!? “Well”, he said, “that really makes me sound like it was my fault! Like I was the one who didn’t want to go.” Okay, I re-read the sentence…it says the reason you didn’t want to go was because you thought it was a borgo…correct? Correct. And it says that I wasn’t interested enough to insist…correct? Correct. So what’s the problem?

So Art goes into this big thing about how it makes HIM look like the bad guy, like he WOULDN’T take me because I hadn’t been persistent enough. And by putting this on the web for the world to see, everyone would think he was a jerk. And that he would be so embarrassed to meet new people at the SlowTrav get-togethers, knowing that they had read about this!

I explained over and over that it was not my intention to make him look bad, and that I didn’t think other people would take it that way. I thought I was giving the reason HE never felt compelled to go there, and that I was obviously totally ambivalent about it, so I never insisted. These are the facts as I see them. No blame, no criticism, just the facts. We both knew that eventually we would go to Rotecastello, but for the time being, it just wasn’t high on our agenda.

Since this conversation seemed to be going downhill, and since Art had criticized both the first AND the second SENTENCES, I didn’t think it was a good idea to continue reading. Whether this was because I was being petty, or because I was insulted at having my writing criticized, or just upset about having MY version of the events questioned, I don’t know. But whatever it was, I just said, well, I don’t think I’ll read any more, and I turned off the computer. I wasn’t “huffy” about it, just sort of matter-of-fact. I sort of felt like this just wasn’t the time.

Now that REALLY made Art mad. He thought that I was acting childish, and that additionally I was ignoring his feelings. I tried to explain once again that what I had written was NOT disparaging, and that irregardless, it was MY point of view. I encouraged him to write his own version for the blog…I thought it would be a nice contrast to have a “he said” "she said” thing.

Art wasn’t interested in writing for the blog, and the disagreement continued. I suggested that we send the article to anyone he wanted, to get another opinion. Or we could send it to however many people he wanted and we could take a poll. I suggested that we send it to a couple, so that we could get a male and female perspective. He wasn’t interested in any of that.

Well you know how it is when you’re just spoiling for a fight…any excuse will do, no matter how ridiculous it seems later. So we continued to argue. I was more surprised at his reaction than mad, and kept trying to explain that I was not casting blame. Eventually, I became defensive about my writing…about being asked to change something that I believed to be true. After all, this was MY blog, the place where I could express my feelings. Art continued to feel as if I was ignoring his feelings and being inconsiderate. He knows I HATE to be criticized, and thought that I was just being stubborn.

Apparently we’ve had just a little too much togetherness, and we were both spoiling for a fight. Every time one of us would be ready to smooth things over, the other one would get fired up again. This went on for quite some time. We were both convinced that we were right, and that was that.

After a couple of hours, and some time away from each other, we finally made our peace. Art said that he had over-reacted, and I said that I would re-word the offending sentence. But I still stood by my description of “driving past” Rotecastello. Art told me that the only reason he had picked on this was because he felt it only served to emphasize the fact that we were SO close, but he still wouldn’t take me.

As I said, I know all this sounds ridiculous, but at the time it was very real and very intense. Battle lines were drawn, and things were quite tense for a while. Back when I was still reading Art most of my blogs, I had enough sense not to read him the one about “togetherness”, knowing that it would cause some friction. Reading this particular post took me completely by surprise though. From now on, I’ll just tell him about what I wrote, paraphrasing where necessary and glossing over any potentially sensitive areas.

And so, without further delay, (and with minimal changes), here’s the story of our visit to Rotecastello!


AUGUST 8, 2004

Rotecastello is a cute little hill town that we’ve driven past almost every day since last September, but have never visited. This was because Art thought it was just going to be a borgo, and I wasn’t sufficiently curious. We both kept thinking “someday” we’d visit. It seemed likely that we would have finally visited the town after we bought our mosaic from a couple who live there. This was back in April at the Mercato in Marsciano. But we never did seem to find the time. We were always on our way to somewhere else. On Friday we finally made it to Rotecastello.

We had seen a flier advertising a medieval festival in Rotecastello on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each day featured a different form of entertainment and a different menu. We decided that Friday night sounded good…a “blues” band was scheduled…could be interesting.

We drove over to Rotecastello about 9:30, and were a little surprised to see how many cars were parked alongside the road. The town is tiny, and sits on top of a hill, so it’s not possible for cars to park in the town itself. We had to park quite a way down the road and walk down the road and up into the town.

At the base of the hill we saw the place to order the food. Tables were set up in the soccer field. Since we had eaten dinner at home, we didn’t order, but planned to return another night for dinner.

As we walked up the hill, the pathway was lined with candles lighting the way, and the ambiance was pure medieval. The further up the hill we walked, the more charmed (and surprised) we were. What a cute, charming, amazingly medieval town this was. We kept asking each other…”Why haven’t we come here before?” And “Who knew?!”

The road wound up and around the hill, full of twisting narrow lanes lined with medieval stone houses. It was hard to tell we were still in the 21st century. We were both completely charmed.

Rotecastello must have a population of less than 200 people, and apparently most of them most are artists. Doorway after doorway opened into rooms filled with various forms of art….paintings, mosaics, textiles. The variety was amazing. The quality was impressive.

In the main town square, the piazza, there was a bandstand set up, and musicians were beginning to assemble. A woman took the stage and began to introduce the band. She told a little bit about the festival and about Rotecastello…but that’s about all I understood. The details were just a little beyond me. I did understand that the band was from Marsciano.

Once the band (finally) took the stage, they jumped right into it…”Mustang Sally”, “Midnight Hour”, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, “I Feel Good”, and on and on. I was having a ball…the music was music that I loved, and they were actually pretty good!

A few of their selections were questionable…”That’s the Way (Uh huh Uh huh) I Like It”, and “Get Down Tonight”, but I figure that anything American was/is popular, even the bad stuff.

They played for over TWO HOURS, and when they finally finished for the night we took a final look around the piazza. A table was set up in the corner and was covered with brochures. A sign indicated that this table was promoting ecology.

I began looking at the brochures, and noticed that one had a picture of stars on it. Once I read it, I realized that it was for the same park that Adamo had taken us to, and that there was to be another stargazing the following weekend. Since I realized that it would be the dark of the moon, I told Art that we should plan to go.

It was then that I realized that the man attending the table was the same man who had given the lecture and led the program for the star-gazing. Of course he remembered us…being the only Americans in the area tends to make people remember us.

We chatted a bit with this professor, took a variety of brochures, and headed back down the hill. Most of the brochures were about the general area…Orvieto, surrounding areas, various activities and festivals.
We saw a few members of the band and told them how much we had enjoyed their music.

We decided that we would definitely return the following night…this time for dinner, and then for the planned entertainment, which was opera and classical music performed by eight different people.


When we arrived on Saturday night, the crowd waiting to eat was quite large. We should have gotten there earlier, but Luciano had arrived with the screens to install, and we just got a late start. We got in line, and once we were closer to the ordering booth, a menu was passed to us. The choices were all wonderful….. umbricelli, tagliatelle with duck sauce, cinghiale (wild boar), assorted desserts, several antipasti.

We decided to each get the umbricelli with tartufati, to share one mixed antipasto, one order of the mixed grill, and also one order of tuna and bean salad. We also ordered one dessert to share. There were three choices, but once the guy said “chocolate”, I said “I’ll take it!” We ordered a bottle of water and a bottle of red wine. The wine was €3, and the total for dinner was €27. That might sound a little expensive, but I considered it a donation to Rotecastello…I’m guessing that a lot of this stuff was donated. Anything that will help to preserve this medieval jewel is well worth it.

We were told to take our receipt, find a place to sit, and give the receipt to one of the girls in long skirts. Although most of the tables were full, we eventually found two empty spots at the end of a table, facing one another.

A girl came by within a few minutes, gave us placemats and utensils, and took our order slip. We watched as the girls took and delivered orders non-stop. Our water and wine were delivered after a few minutes, but since it was so busy, it was about twenty minutes before our food arrived. We didn’t really mind the wait…it was fun to people watch. Everyone knew everyone else, and greetings and kisses flowed with the wine. The Italians are extremely social and friendly people, and we enjoy watching them enjoy life.

Once our food arrived, everything was incredibly delicious. Since we’d been smelling the meat cooking on the grill, we weren’t at all surprised. The tuna and bean salad was delicious…this was the first time we’d ever had this typical Italian dish, but it certainly won’t be the last.

The mixed grill was a nice variety of grilled meats, a nice sized pork chop, s piece of steak, and some sort of sausage. The pasta was incredible, and surprisingly, it was still hot when it arrived at the table. In retrospect, we could have shared one bowl of pasta…but it was so delicious that we each ate every bite! The dessert was good…nothing spectacular, but then, most Italian desserts aren’t. At least it was chocolate.

After we finished eating, we walked up the hill, and once we reached the town we decided to wander down a lane that we hadn’t see the previous night. This lane took us around the perimeter of the village, and after a few minutes we came to a large community oven…what a great idea! I wish we had one of those in San Venanzo.

The lane eventually led us back to the main piazza. As we had come up into town, we had heard a man singing “Nessun Dorma”…and doing a pretty good job of it too. While we were walking around a woman was singing, and she too had a great voice. As we approached the piazza, a man was singing “Figaro”. His voice was powerful, booming, and deep. Once the bandstand came into view, we were both amazed to see a small Oriental young man onstage. It was hard to believe that this powerful voice was coming from such a small person, but it was true. He did an incredible job with the song, and received a standing ovation when he was finished.

We stood at the edge of the piazza, and standing next to us was our good friend Gilberto…the man who had done so much wonderful work on our house! He introduced us to his wife and daughter who were both beautiful. We saw our English friends, Adrian and Hazel wander by, but by the time we realized who they were, it was too late to call to them. We also saw Dino, the man who had made the window for our bedroom, and previously, the door to our garden. This is one of the nice things about settling in…we start to see people we know or just recognize faces and nod hello.

Once the singing was over, people began to leave. A couple sitting in the front row left, and Art and I took their place. We didn’t know what was coming next, but figured we might as well wait and see. The same woman who had introduced the band the previous night took the stage and began to speak. She spoke at great length about the history of Rotecastello, and its medieval days.

We heard the drums before we saw them, and because we were surrounded by all the stone buildings, it was hard to tell where the sound was coming from. The speaker looked to our right, and although we couldn’t see around the corner, we looked too.

And then they appeared. A procession…a medieval procession, led by the drummers, then pages, then knights. Noblemen appeared, followed by more knights. More noblemen, this time accompanied by their ladies. Monks. Laborers. Townspeople. Men, women and children, carrying baskets with animals and assorted foods. The whole scene was absolutely incredible. The costumes were magnificent…authentic to the last detail.

The town officials took the stage, and the man who I assume was the mayor greeted everyone, and thanked us all for coming. A young boy raised his long medieval horn and blew something that seemed to be a rallying call. The procession then continued their march down the street as the drummers pounded out the beat.

All in all, this was one of the most authentic, amazing and fun evenings we’ve ever had. Our one regret was that we hadn’t brought our camera! We looked at each other in disbelief, and vowed that next year not only would we attend the festival, but we would also come prepared with our camera…and this may be the time to invest in a movie camera at last!


At 8/13/2004 10:29:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry Barb, tell Art that to the casual observer, he comes off way better than he may think. Perhaps even as the better half.......

At 8/13/2004 11:47:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

He's DEFINITELY my better half!


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