Friday, February 27, 2009

Letter 17: Hotel Italia, Perugia

[Letter 17]

Hotel Italia
Perugia, Italia


February 14, '33

Dear Folks,

You know how newspapers give you the very latest news first and then go back to the beginning of the story. Following that method, I may tell you that we arrived at Perugia this afternoon having left Rome at 10:45 and enjoyed a fine luncheon on the train. A youngster with ITALIA embroidered on his hat put us on a tram and we wound our way up a hill to the town. We entered the old walls and left them again. At last we entered the hotel through an arcade that looked very old, but the rooms are new and the view from the window is wide and beautiful. We were fortunate in picking up a fine English-speaking guide and we drove around in a taxi. At St. Peter's we saw some of the finest Middle Ages wood-carving in the choir stall. No two chairs are alike. These animals and flowers so exquisitely carved were still in perfect condition after over 400 years of continuous use. We saw also fine inlay work in wood and in marble and some paintings by Perugino, the teacher of the great Raphael. Among the other points of interest were a city gate (an entrance with towers) dating from the second century B. C. and a remarkable fountain of the year 1240, designed by a monk. The figures pictured every month of the year, every branch of study etc. We wound up the afternoon by taking coffee (chocolate for Marcus) at a cafe. It was interesting to see the pleasure these better-grade Italians took in their coffee and games of chess or checkers. No, they did not sit on high stools at a counter, nor did the waiter yell the Italian for "Draw two in the dark!" There was peace, leisure, pleasure. We liked it, too.

Perugia, February 15

Yesterday's paragraph has quite a lot crowded into it, but still I omitted mention of a wonderful view over the roofs and hills. The verger of the church allowed us to pass to a balcony and the sight that greeted us was truly enchanting. Later our guide led us up an inclined street and when we got to the top we were again enthralled by the glorious view with the setting sun touching every house and tree with gold. One could see the lovely countryside for many miles. Truly, one may see beauty only where there are hills. We stood at the Porta Sole at the spot that Dante also looked from. This is the famous Umbrian country that so many Umbrian artists show as the background of their pictures.

Today we were up for breakfast at eight, though we did not get it till 8:30. We then started to hunt for the autobus to Assisi. Five natives told us it left at nine daily, but we were unable to get on its trail. There was a good reason--the bus leaves at four. Thus one must check and recheck. We trolleyed down tot he train and took the 10:25 for Assisi, a half hour's run. On the way we noticed the very regular planting of olive trees, using every yard of space. The irrigation ditches also made a perfect gridiron. You know all that Italian olive oil is world famous. Yes, but do you know what was being hauled on hundreds of wagons which we passed when we took our trip to Pompeii? Of course Harry Lourie will say "boloney", but the answer is cauliflower, tons of it. I eat it often.

We took the public autobus from the Assisi station to the town nestling part way up on a mountain. As we went higher and higher we again admired the beautiful fields and hills, with here and there a flock of sheep, or some quiet cows grazing. The hills seemed embroidered, so odd was the even arrangement of orchard trees. (I just noticed that "odd" and "even" statement. It's odd: I make those quips even when I don't even try to.) Well, we lunched at a charming Albergo (which means hotel) and again let our eyes wander from the excellent courses to the marvellous landscape beyond the window sash. Then we rested in the lounge and started for the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, known to every art student. We were shown through by Father Thomas, a Franciscan monk. We saw wall and ceiling paintings by Cimabue, Giotto and Lorenzetti. This work is over 600 years old. Though simple and naive it is beautiful, being unusually harmonious. We count this as a very charming sidetrip. So I saw "Goodnight" to you in Perugia and will continue this letter in

FLORENCE, at the Pension Pendini, Feb 16 where we are now comfortably installed in two rooms facing south. The two nights in Perugia were all right except that three roosters near us were not at all in agreement as to when "came the dawn."

Retracing our steps (as the guide books say) I shall now give you, for a change, merely our itinerary in ROME.


DATE (FEB.)MORNINGAFTERNOON
Sat 4St. Peter's, VaticanAmerican Express, Walk
Sat 5Nat. Museum of SculptureMovie, "Grand Hotel" in Italian; good, too. Garbo, Barrymores, etc.
Mon. 6Borghese Palace picturesPantheon, built 79, oldest building in active use--a round church
Tue. 7Colosseum, first cent., a Roman arena; Arch of Constantine; also Titus etc.Haircuts for two.
Wed. 8Home; walk to P. O. Trolley ride around Rome
Thur. 9Colosseum and Arches (for movies); also Roman Forum ruinsBorghese Park; coffee at Casino Valadier; lovely to sip coffee outdoors
Fri. 10Morris to St. Peter's to visit roof and take pictures. Dora and Marcus to parkWalk and visit Church of St. Maggiore
Sat. 11ShoppingHome, reading
Sun. 12Galeria Moderna, a beautiful hall of art, including art schoolsOpera "Hansel and Gretel" ALSO Russian dances. Ehrenfelds there, too
Mon. 13Morris to see "Moses" by Michaelangelo; memorial Vict. Eman. IIExhib. Of Fascists, 1914 to 1923
Tue. 14To PerugiaSeeing Perugia

Write to us c/o Amer. Express, BERNE, Switzerland. We always leave forwarding addresses and get all our mail. I think we shall enjoy at least a fortnight in Florence.

Affectionately,

Morris

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