gubbio, perugia round 1, montone and umbertide

Tuesday was a packed day.  Everybody woke up early to hit the road for Gubbio's morning market.  Along the drive, we realized the other half of why we got such a good deal on the rental car.  A light in the dashboard kept flashing, "Stop," and we couldn't figure out why (or why stop?).  It had flashed a few times in the two days prior, but only once or twice while we slowly drove down the muddy gravel road from the villa to the highway; upon reaching the highway, the light stopped flashing.  Until the drive to Gubbio, that is.  Then the light flashed pretty much the whole drive.  Everything else seemed normal and we were unable to discern anything from the manual (maybe because it was in Italian?), so we called the rental company en route.  They told us not to operate the car and that they'd exchange it for us in Gubbio.

So we parked the car in Gubbio and headed off to the market.  We wandered the stalls of clementines, artichokes, sardines and Umbrian smoked porchetta, then warmed up with espressos and cappuccinos.  Joey got a call from the rental car company, so we all walked back to where we'd parked the car.

A tow truck arrived, but the replacement vehicle had not.  After many minutes of arguing with the rental company over the phone, Joey was told we'd have to take a cab to the nearest rental car location in Perugia, where we could pick up the new car.  We decided that since we'd have to take a cab anyway, we'd explore the rest of Gubbio before making our way to Perugia.

Gubbio is situated upon a steep hill, and to get from one level of the town to the next, the Italians built elevators within the rock - how convenient!  Their signage could use a little work though, so it took me a few minutes to convince everyone that walking down the long, deserted, flourescent hallway would save us from climbing a million stairs.  But sure enough, after we rode the elevator up and walked down another creepy hallway, we emerged in the town square.  After a photo shoot of the square and City Hall we found a separate elevator, which we used to visit the Cathedral up even higher - and what fabulous views!  We took the elevator back to the second level and walked the rest of the way down from there.

I love this picture.  It's like the skies opened up and God shined down.
While waiting for a cab to Perugia we drank round two of espresso.  Sufficiently buzzed, we then stuffed ourselves into the tiny car that arrived (I sat in a pop-up seat in the trunk) and headed to the rental car station in Perugia.  Of course by the time we arrived all the people working were enjoying their afternoon nap, so we waited in a crappy little restaurant by the train station and watched the Italian version of Jerry Springer on the tv in one corner and the very tan, older man wearing eyeliner and a black wig in the other.  Once the people at the rental car station returned from their naps, Joey went in to haggle and Mallory, Mom, Dad and I waited some more.  Finally, at least an hour later, we got our replacement vehicle, and the five of us drove back to Casa San Gabriel in a giant, royal blue toaster.

We decided we'd have a snack and take a nap before driving to a different town, Montone, for dinner.  The toaster twisted and turned up the mountain road to Montone, and we parked it outside the city walls.  As we walked from one side of the dark maze of stone houses to the other, we realized Montone was closed.  Although it was barely 8:30, with the exception of a bar in the town square, absolutely nothing - nothing - was open.  It felt like we'd stumbled onto an empty movie set.  So back to the toaster we went, and to Umbertide we drove.

Montone's town square
By then it was almost ten and the historic center of Umbertide is even smaller than Montone; after trying the locked doors of three different restaurants it looked like we were out of luck.  We tried one more door down a dark, narrow street and walked into a candle-lit dining room with large photos from all over the world adding a pop of color and character to the white walls and white tablecloths.  Jazz played in the background of the empty restaurant; a young woman greeted us and warmly invited us to sit down despite the late hour.  She spoiled us with fresh ricotta; chocolate, hazelnut, and wine flavored bread before we even ordered our meal.  The menu sounded too good to resit ordering only a primi or secondi, so we splurged and ordered both.  And of course, many bottles of wine and dessert too.

It was after midnight when we finally left one of the best restaurants in which we'd eat the whole trip, but the near-perfect meal made up for a far-from-perfect day.  Here's the rest of my pictures from our Tuesday adventure.