We finished up our bike loop today and got back to Viceno. Strangely, I actually felt like I came home with Nadia's excitement of our trip. We got the keys back to the B&B. I am back in the wifi room. While we were moving our stuff back into our B&B we were welcomed with a bottle of wine. They had just finished making this years batch. He gave us a bottle of last year's wine.
Tony just had a hunch from the map that Amelia would be a good location. It is a town with such a mixture of old roman parts just added to some of the other architecture. The streets are so narrow and only going up or down. I do not think there is one flat street. This wall around the city is impressive. From any part of the city you can see a wonderful view of mountains or the valley from on top of Amelia.
We biked down the hill out of Assisi today and near the bottom of the hill I saw a truck selling unglazed pottery for 10 euros! We found a great little town called Folingo in which everyone was biking...men with suit jackets, women with skirts, dad's with children. We have seen so few biker and there were bikers all over. We realized that for the first time that there was a level part of Italy. There is about a 20 mile stretch that is flat between to hills and this town was in this plateau. We even found a bike store which has been hard to find on our trip. Tony went in and ask for a good way to Spoleto and he said that if we bike another 4 kilometers we would have a bike trail all the way to Spoleto. It was good to get a little rest on the hills because we need to start crossing the hills tomorrow on our way back to Orvieto.
We biked from Deruta to Assisi. Thanks to the internet were lucky to find a hotel in the center of town. Assisi is a hill top city, but is in front of mountains. Every part of this city is well maintained. We are not sure if it is maintained by individuals or the Catholic Church. You can not walk without seeing a nun wearing an entire black and white habit or a priest in a brown gown with sandals. Assisi is filled with more tourist than any other town we have been to. Restaurants, stores, churches and squares are all really full with people of all ages.
There is so much majolica in Deruta that we decided to stay another day in Deruta. I spent the morning watching Agostino Veschini trimming and putting handles on some gigantic vase forms. He had thrown these two days ago. He trimmed 6 of them in two hours along with doing business on the phone. He does not glaze, he just throws and fires it once. He had three decorators put in orders and pick up orders while I was there. Marino uses Agostino to throw some of is bowls. Marino once had Agostino throw 24 really large vase forms and he altered the forms in Agostino's studio.
This afternoon we found another studio with an ancient kiln, we found an amazing majolica painter patrizio chiucciu, and stumbled on a contemporary ceramic museum when we took our afternoon bike ride.
I had spent part of day with Marino in Deruta. I showed Tony some of the sights that Marino showed me. We also got out to the Church of Madonna dei Bagni. There is a story about the beginning of this church. A man was on a trail in 1675 when he found a cup with a picture of Madonna and child by a spring and he was worried that it was going to break so he built a little shelf for the cup. When he got home his sick wife was healed. At that spot there was a church built. There are tiles each year with miracles. There are still tiles being added to the church. We spent time today exploring a few of the potters and majolica artists in Deruta.
We had a great morning in Todi.....hiking, taking the funicular, going in and out of stores and galleries and of course eating "the best gelato in Umbria". We were really surprised to find out that we could have put our bikes in the funicular the night before, but we are probably stronger because we walked our bikes up steps!! We could not believe how high we were until we started going down and we felt like we were on a downhill ski run. We heard about a Tile, brick and functional pottery museum in the town of Marsciano. The museum was in an historic building and it had a collection of some of the largest terra cotta containers for olive oil. I am standing by the olive oil containers.
Great weather for our journey from Viterbo to Todi. We found a route with a lot of hills, but no cars. We had one 10 kilometer climb...but it was follows by a 10 kilometer descent. We really like this town of Vitorciano. It was a town all alone on a cliff. I could not get a good picture when we were close because it was in the shade. I have a view from the distance as we biked away from the town. We were ready for lunch near Montecchio. We are glad we had energy to bike further up the hill to visit the city because it was another charming town. We were pretty surprised that the direction that we biked into Todi that we needed to walk up with our bikes about 500 steps. We were really happy to find a hotel in the old part of town.
The Ceramic Museum in Viterbo was the second recommendation from Marino. I found this a really impressive collection. Most of the pieces we full pieces and I especially liked the unicorn that I photographed. I had heard a lot about the natural hot springs by Viterbo...so we ventured out on our bikes in the afternoon and felt right at home with all the senior citizens. We are now ready to get an RV, because you can park it for free outside the hot spring. We biked back in time to explore more of the sights of Viterbo. This is a big city...we will have to go back some day.
Marino gave me a few recommendations of some good Ceramic Museums. The first one was about an hour bike ride up the hill from Lake Bolsena in the town of Valentano. This is another hilltop town...and of course the ceramic museum was on top of the hill. We had to ask a man at his desk about how to get into the museum. He said that he would open it up for us. There were two floors in an ancient building that house the collection of Ceramics from the Farnese Family from Valentano. We went a longer way to Viterbo to see the town Tusconia. We got to Vitberbo in time to find our B&B and to explore the old part of the town.