My hotels along the trail have been a very mixed bag, but mostly simple Albergos, with a metal frame bed, a side board, a radiator that doesn’t work or, at best, wheezes into a semblance of warmth, sometime in the night only to return to its icy natural state by morning, a shower, sometimes that dribbles, sometimes gushes. Only one bath (if I don’t count Consuma, where the bath was in fact an oversized bidet) – in the faceless Euro hotel attached to a motorway service station in Pieve Sanpetro, but with one exception, always, at least, a bathroom of my own. Not that I mind sharing – 12 years of boarding school conditioned me for living with a minimum of personal space – but, you know, if I am allowed to choose….The one luxury which I craved for (ok, apart from scrambled eggs ans sausage and a decent piece of toast, not the white stuff we might think about using for packaging, that they eat here) was the offer of a washing service for my soiled kit.
Not every day, but at least the offer. I had that twice: in the very simple Albergo Foresta in Badia Prataglia and on Tuesday in Pietrolunga, courtesy of Simone and his brother Marco my charming hosts at the Locanda del Borgo, who made every effort to ensure my wishes were fulfilled in their charming hotel.
So you can imagine that it was quite difficult tearing myself away from a very comfortable room, with delightful hosts, a divine kitchen, excellent service, freshly washed and dried clothes, a shower that really worked with radiators that pumped out heat from late afternoon until the morning, and a kettle. But tear myself away, I did and set off on what Simone assured me was going to be a delightful day of walking.
He also cautioned me that the last six kilometers were really not very attractive as they were on the flat and wound their way through the zona industriale that lay before Gubbio. Much better he advised to catch the bus just before the nasty bit starts in the valley and ride into town. “That way you will have more time to spend in beautiful Gubbio.” Which is exactly what I did.
Simone was absolutely spot on: the walk was beautiful, encompassing three valleys, so two long ups and three long downs, through glorious much more open countryside, under a blue sky and surrounded throughout by wild roses and furze in full bloom, poppies and the purple flowers of clover everywhere. The walking, too, was good under foot, with broad footpaths marking most of the way until I hit the asphalt down in the valley. Today also I could finally see where I was going for most of the time, the lack of sight having begun to irritate me over the last few days. As I was not caught entirely in woods today, I had long views over the terrain I was about to cross from valley to valley an after reaching the highest point at around 1100, magnificent views over the long, green, almost alpine valley that stretched away below and in front of me to the plain at whose end Gubbio lay.
And then after a tea, coke with lemon juice, a panini and a bus ticket purchased and consumed at the little bar opposite the bus stop and a wait of only an hour, the luxury of a bus into Gubbio; and what a town Gubbio is! I was immediately captivated by the beauty and historical overload that this magnificent specimen of what must in former times have been an opulent, wealthy and powerful city emanates and after a few hours in the citta, in my even more exquisite hotel, with my own private balcony overlooking the town and the appenines in the near distance, had fallen hopelessly in love with the place.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves and deliver a guided tour through the history of this remarkable town, when I have explored it with the help of a guide this afternoon, but suffice it to say that I have changed my plans and will be walking my sections for the next few days, but returning here in the late afternoon and using Gubbio as my base camp. They will have to throw me out, I think…