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Where in the world are Karmen & Michael?

Terni-ng it North

ITALY | Tuesday, 20 October 2015 | Views [395]

We finished out our stint in Rome tired but not really too worse for wear. We'd been pressed by crowds pretty hard, probably the biggest crowds we've been a part of so far while traveling. We enjoyed our stay in any case, and were excited to trade the busy-ness of Rome for a more relaxed mountain country scene. In that respect our roads were pointed north, toward Terni in the Umbrian lands of Italy, and more specfically to a smaller town just south of Terni called Stroncone.

We arrived from our train in Terni on schedule, and without wifi we started looking around to figure out how to contact our host, who was supposed to be picking us up. We didn't wander far, and lucky for us, once a couple buses moved out of our line of sight we saw him right behind waiting for us in his car! Woohoo, it's never that easy! We stowed our bags and michael's guitar and hopped in for the ride. We didn't have to go far, about twenty minutes, before we arrived at his house. It was a beautiful cabin-esque home in the rolling hills of the Umbrian valley. I call them hills only because surrounding us on most sides in the distance were what truly are mountains. While they were too far away too loom over us, we could still sense their size from where we were. We can only imagine how the Alps must look when even this far south there are mountains to rival the Appalachians (which we miss so!)

As soon as we arrived, Ricarrdo (our host) hopped back in his car to head back to (presumably) work. He had pointed out the town of Stroncone in the distance (easily recognizeable by the giant white wall surrounding in against it's mountain backdrop) and so we figured it couldn't be too far, let's huff it! It was a little rough. We had gotten used to not dealing with the ups and downs of mountain walking, but were soon confronted with the fact that what was only about 3.5km felt closer to 5. By the time we arrived we were a little beat, but luckily the sun was just setting so we had a great opportunity for a few sunset pictures and memories. It's lucky too, because it turns out the town is populated by very few people, and essentially felt deserted as we were walking around. Windy streets, narrow alleys peeling off to other abodes, random dead-ends and stairs leading up and down to different levels of crazy old italian maze land; it was pretty cool. Definitely not in Kansas (Boone) anymore.

We began our descent. Lucky for us we had passed a grocery on the way to the town proper and were able to grab a few necessities while we were walking by. Ravioli, cheese, bread, you know, necessities. We got back resolved to actually eat a meal now that we had some food, and doing so settled in for the night to do research for Day 2.

Day2 we woke with big plans to see Cascatta del Marmore: the biggest waterfalls in Italy. We had a little time to kill though, as it was early and they didn't release the water until the afternoon. You see this is a man-made waterfall, first built around 2000 years ago, eventually fashioned into what it is today. It powers the electrical needs of the surrounding cities. With our time, we decided to walk around the centre of Terni, had a coffee, did some more reseasrch on the waterfall and buses and everything. We're feeling a little out of our element finally because not many people speak English, especially not to the degree that we have found most other places so far. This is good though, because we haven't faced this issue enough so far and we expect to face it again in Spain on our way back to USA. Anywho...

We did all the research, knew what buses to take to where, and finally trekked out there. It was about twenty minutes outside of Terni by bus, and we had to take a bus into town to begin with, so about an hour later we finally arrived at the site...to find out during off-season they only release the water on Saturday and Sunday (this was a Friday). We were heartbroken to say the least. Oh well, at least we got to figure out how to get here so we're ready for the next day when we can tackle it for real. In any case, we hopped back on our buses and made our way back to the airbnb. Tonight our hosts were going to cook us dinner so we wanted to get back early enough.

And we got back early enough, because in Italy they eat dinner at like 9. So we were really hungry by the time the meal came along! It began with a chartrucerie plate (meat, cheese, bread with olive oil) and we tried really hard not to just stuff our faces right then. We managed to eat casually instead, until everything was gone. Then we were served a carbonara pasta with some local Umbrian noodles (like spaghetti noodles but really thick) followed by a roast chicken. The whole chicken, from like, the neighbor. Not sure how we managed to fit it all in, but somehow we were able to eat a good serving of both the chicken and the fries, which left basically no room for the dessert that was prepared. But that's okay, we ate it the following morning with some coffee! It was a giant pound-cake like pie with fig marmalade and it was delicious! So many things we have to learn how to cook now. Needless to say that meal pretty much put us into a food coma, ending us for the night.

Day 3 was a big day. We woke up early enough to eat some breakfast and an early lunch before heading out for our day at Maramore falls finally! Woohoo! We were excited. The map of Maramore falls depicted 5 different trails, where 4 of 5 trails were only about 20-25 minute hikes to different lookouts. We decided to go to the Lover's Out look and to go for the 5th trail that brought us to the top of the waterfalls. Getting to the falls with ample time to do some hiking was nice because we wanted to have a relaxing hike before they released the water. Lover's Outlook was a neat lookout about 2/3 of the way down from the bottom of the falls. Before the water was released it was just a pretty view, but when the water was released we went back to check out Lover's Outlook and it was getting pummeled by the falls. Rainjackets AND poncho were necessary for that view.

The big trail that led to the top was well worth the 40 minute hike of it. While the top wasn't too crowded when we arrived, as time counted down to the waterfall release it soon got to be. With loud sirens sounding kind of cartoon ACME like, we crowded to the front to watch the water release. It was so neat to experience a waterfall getting "turned on." After some picture taking for us and some other couples and families we enjoyed some book reading at the top of the waterfalls and decided to head back to town because we had dinner plans with our hosts again!

Around 7 o clock that evening our host Riccardo came by to pick us up and take us to a festival in a nearby town called San Gemini. This town was bigger than Stoncone but much smaller that Terni with no commercialized stores anywhere to be seen. The maze like feel of this town, the archways and lack of fancy shops were very captivating to our modern eyes. Cobblestone streets and festival banners adorned each corner with signs pointing to which way a tavern was located. There were 3 different "teams," each serving food and wine at a different tavern in a competition for the participants to decide who was doing it best. One team for the Castle, one for the Farmers, and one I think for the Merchants. I'm not sure which tavern we ended up at, but I do know the food and wine were both delicious. All served on these clay, earthenware plates with clay jugs to serve the wine; very quaint.

But they seemed to stay just hidden enough to make it a hunt to really find the right taverns. They were always down that random alleyway and up those stairs leading who knows where, before you finally took the corner leading to the crowd waiting to get in. When you see a crowd that big, everyone waiting the 30 minute entry time, you know you are in for a treat. We were finishing our meal just as we heard the first cracks from fireworks outside. We quickly paid and followed the mounting crowd out to the main square in an effort to get the best spots we could to view the show. It would be difficult to overstate how wonderful these fireworks were. Choreographed to background music, there was clearly a story being told; one we especially couldn't understand due to our lack of Italian language skills. In either case, we were enraptured and super grateful to have gotten to be in the area during a time when such a wonderful festival was going on and having gotten to be a part of it.

By the end of the show the rain was beginning to pick up and it was getting late. On our way outside of the city we passed a small shop doing a lottery. Pay 1 euro and pick a number, the number determines your prize. Karmen won a pair of panties, and Michael won a little girl's T-shirt. Wonderful! Our host won a doormat and a pair of earrings, and you could even win a bottle of wine and even more "top-shelf"items. From there we made it back to the home and went to bed, we had another big travel day coming up. Onwards to Bologna!


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