Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the way to Assisi: Foligno

We ate breakfast on the terrace in Amalfi, served by skinny Renaldo who buzzed and hummed about, making an occasional nervous foray into conversation about his marriage to a Russian woman from Eastern Siberia, his three year old child, how he works all night and goes home to play with his child before sleeping in the afternoon – all in Italian mind you. The young man who helped Bill carry our bags to the car, down the numerous flights of stairs, was not nearly as affable.

“For one night in this hotel you need all these bags?” We didn’t bother to explain that bringing all the bags into the hotel wasn’t our decision. The young woman who helped us unload informed us that “Your car will be parked in a public garage,” and insisted everything be removed before giving it to the attendant to park.

Even our GPS had a hard time finding the Delfina Palace Hotel in Foligno where we would spend two nights while visiting Assisi. A new 4-star hotel, the Delfina was a sprawling but mostly empty hotel set in a formal landscape of gardens in a rural setting along the Via Romana Antica outside Foligno. It was the only place we stayed that had an abundance of empty parking spaces – unusual in a country with too many cars and too many tourists. During our first night visit, we saw only five people -- two men and a woman in the lobby bar, the girl behind the desk and the waiter in charge of the breakfast room but our room was spacious, making up in comfort what it lacked in activity.

Deciding that we did not want to eat in the sprawling empty dining room, we headed into Foligno to find a place to dine and got hopelessly lost in a tangle of dark streets. A young woman in a still open flower shop personally took us to Lassame Lento, a tiny, hidden, and unimposing little trattoria where we feasted among single working men on varied antipasto selections, tagliatelle with tartuffe (truffles), house wine, and for desert a delicate panna cotta with fresh berry sauce.

Our evening in Foligno came to a close as we walked back to our car, preceded by three Franciscan Friars in their habits, laughing and eating ice-cream cones as they walked.

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