Non-Hungry Hungarians, Poofball Fields, and Kittens in Castles

July 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

Wednesday morning, I popped out of the house with the intention of briefly saying ‘ciao’ to my Anconian Mentor and taking a photo of him for an art series that I am working on.  Last night, I finally got back home.

Anconian Mentor invited me out for lunch, and so we closed up his art gallery and started the walk to his house.  On the way, we saw a young backpacker sitting on the stairs of a cathedral, a cardboard sign in front of him with NIRVANA written on it.  Anconian Mentor and I exchanged glances, smiled, and decided to adopt him for a couple of days.

The boy was from Budapest, on a six-month hitchhiking trip to Spain.  His plans in Ancona went awry (as so often happens in this beloved city), and he was contemplating his escape from the city when we came along and shattered those ideas.  First, we took him to a restaurant on the beach and treated him to all of the standard seafood critters of the region:

Then, two days full of all of the most beautiful sights and delicious tastes of this city and surroundings.  Poor guy, I think that he was forced to eat more in these two days than what he has eaten in the two weeks since he left his house.  But, that’s okay; it’s an acceptable price to pay for all of the sunsets we shared:

Friday morning, after breakfast, we bid adieu to my Anconian Mentor.  Then Mr. Stuffed Hungarian and Mr. Italian and I formed our own Terrific Trio.  The Hungarian’s next stop was Perugia, so Mr. Italian and I decided to accompany him part of the way.  Originally, we were thinking of driving out halfway to Genga and leaving the kid there.   However, fate was on our side and Mr. Italian somehow ended up with two free days, so we swung by the house, grabbed our toothbrushes, and decided to extend the adventure.

We started the day with horizons of blue water:

SpiaggiaStMichelle

, and then moved inland through never-ending fields of chipper sunflowers:

LeMarcheSunflowerField

, detoured through vineyards:

LeMarcheVineyard

, did double takes of roundabouts when the center of them was particularly interesting:

LeMarcheHaystackCouple

, and even found these funny plants.  We’re not sure what they are, but we nicknamed them poofballs:

LeMarcheCountryside4

We spent a couple of hours driving through the Marche countryside, showing off its vast beauty and diversity.  Behind every turn in the road (and there are a lot of turns in the road), the landscape is different, but always impressive.  So, we started out with sunny fields:

LeMarcheCountryside

, then added scattered villages and hills,

LeMarcheCountryside3

, and then added some mountains to the background:

LeMarcheCountryside2

We had our mini hike and not-so-mini lunch at Genga, and then continued off to Perugia.  Before settling down to watch the Germany/France soccer game, we took a stroll around the city, which always manages to amaze me with its rooftops (Jesus reception included):

MacerataJesusRooftops

, warm hues of Umbrian sunsets:

MacerataTowerRooftops

, and welcoming atmosphere:

MacerataBuonaGiornata

We even found a very cute pigeon couple that couldn’t keep its wings and beaks off each other:

MacerataPigeons

After sundown, Mr. Italian and I left Stuffed Hungarian at some park outside of the city so that he could continue his adventures.  With a silent sniffle, we stuffed chocolates into his backpack and drove off.

For the night, we stayed at Castello Valenzino, an old castle converted into a B&B about half an hour north of Perugia.

CastelloValenzioUmbria3

I loved it!  It was rustic and cozy and charming, in the middle of mountains and rivers that blocked out the rest of the world.  It even came with a jacuzzi bathtub!

But, the best part of the castle was two of these adorable creatures, which we spent all night playing with and cuddling vigorously:

The next day, after a long breakfast and spying on the four baby falcons nestling outside of the upstairs bathroom, Mr. Italian and I started weaving our way back to the seaside.  Out first stop was Gubbio, a hillside town:

GubbioFromAfar

, with a desolate little colosseum:

GubbioTheatre

, more puzzle-piece rooftops:

GubbioRooftops

, narrow stone alleys:

GubbioAlley

, and impressive castles:

GubbioCastel

Before continuing the rest of our trip through villages not on the road atlas and arriving back to le Marche and finishing the day up with seaside FIFA matches and grigliata‘s, we took a moment to reflect on the past few completely unanticipated, yet utterly satisfying, days.  Upon getting back to the car and opening the trunk, we found this piece of cardboard left behind:

NirvanainUmbria

And, as we looked around at the Umbrian sky and listened to the thick drawl of the summer insects, Mr. Italian and I realized that it was us, just as much as him, that are on a long trip.  A destination without a location, unexpected turns and detours, and endless memories to share between us and with the rest of the world.

Thank you,  Hungarian vagabond for bringing us to where we all hope to arrive one day.

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