Thursday, May 15, 2008

abandoned civilizations

The town sits high up on a rock. So many towns here sit high up on rocks, are built out of the rocks, rising like Michelangelo's Slaves from the tufa and marble. But Calacata, rather than being on an open promontory, is tucked in between soft green hills. This town too was once abandoned, but rather than tony Romans or artsy Americans buying up the streets like in Civita di Bagnoreggio, the figli di fiori have made a strong hold. Flower children, or aging hippies, have taken up residence, or at least fashioned jerry-rigged art studios for crafting jewelry or Hindi- inspired paintings. Tea-rooms line the narrow corso, and the smell of wild iris is thick. Of a Sunday afternoon, visitors flock to see the pretty crumbling buildings and buy handmade soap, then lunch in the village at one of the small trattorias, or at the little house converted to a restaurant on the side of the road on the way into town. Sora Peppa’s is decked out with red tablecloths and a handwritten sign with a an ample awning-covered terrace with a dramatic view over the ravine and a look back at Calcata. Sora means sister much in the same way the French once used the name Citizen. Sora Peppa’s menu is small with local mushrooms and priest-strangling pasta and smoky spring lamb. We think of lunch with a view of happy ruins.


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