Day 6: What a day at the Villa di Monte Solare!

I woke early today to walk the grounds and catch the sunrise over the valley.  A few others in our group joined me.  The misty valley, which is right next to Lake Trasimeno (the largest lake in Italy), was illuminated broadly with a soft light, while the sun itself was hidden in the clouds.

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I did not recognize a few people at breakfast and then I realized that Dave Hoerlein's group had again crossed our path.  They were staying here with us also for the next 2 days.

We set out for the shore of the lake and an old olive oil factory right next door to it.  We took a small detour to a park on the shore and not only found colorful boats and a couple of skittish cats, but a Smart Car as well.

The olive oil factory was run by a man named Amaro (which means "bitter" in Italian, but nothing here was) and he showed us the historical equipment as well as all the newfangled gadgets that extract the last living drop of oil from his olives.  He had a little toaster and salt shaker (Italian bread in this province is not salted) ready for us, and we sampled 4 different oils of his.  I don't think there are many things that taste better in such a simple way than good olive oil on toast.  We filled our stomachs, and lots of us bought many bottles from him.

The next stop was Deruta, the capital of ceramics in Italy.  We stopped at a store where in the back we watched a number of craftspeople creating one-of-a-kind works of art in clay.  And then we got to shop again.  Though I am not a big souvenir hunter, I did pick up a plate to remind me of this place.

While waiting for the bus to return I spied a friendly sign inside the window of a car.  I guess they have bimbos here, too.

We lunched on a hill nearby, in a playground with a view of the valley.  Of course the picnic included some of the food and drink we had sampled nearby.  There was a small town within walking distance that a few people hiked into for more ceramics and trinkets, while others hung out and tried the playground equipment.

We took the bus back to the Villa and most of us joined Rosy for a hike around the grounds.  We were afforded extensive views from the hiking trail, and visited the gardener's house and a picnic table with a view of the lake in the distance.

After the hike we lounged around in the cool afternoon air.  Some read, some wrote in their journals, and others napped..

Brad invited us all to a buffet dinner at the Villa's guest house down the road.  Even though he also offered transportation, Freyja and I decided to walk there.  During the hike we marveled at the amazing clouds that were forming in the evening light.  They looked painted on the sky by a true master.

The buffet included flavors from all over Italy in both food and spirits, and was simply wonderful.  Considering Brad had no assistant guide, it was amazing the amount of care that went into it.  Everyone had a jolly time, and as the moon came out we started singing every song that could be thought of at the time.  There is no question that this was the most fun we had at a meal during the whole trip, and once this dinner was over, if not before, now everyone was a good friend.

No stone bulls in sight yet, but we're getting there.

On the way to dinner I snapped a picture of Freyja and myself reflected in a mirror at a crossroads, and this picture now resides at the top of the signpost on each page of this web site.  The mirror is curved to see much more than a normal mirror, and you can see yourself against the world around you.  Perhaps it is not unlike this tour?

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Last updated 02/29/2004 .  Email me at