If you have to have shingles and be miserable, being miserable in Montefiascone, Italy ain’t half bad. It’s a lovely old city, set high on a hill and surrounded by high, impenetrable walls like so many ancient Roman towns. We happened to arrive in time for the Easter celebration, which especially in Italy, is a major religious event. Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday all have religious significance, plus Good Friday and Easter Monday are also public holidays, making for a long holiday weekend.
There may be less commercialism associated with Easter here, but the stores were certainly well stocked with chocolate eggs, brightly colored, cellophaned baskets and pane di Pasqua (traditional Easter bread). I specifically asked our host if the Easter Bunny came to bring baskets to the kids. No, he doesn’t, but apparently the kids get chocolate and baskets from parents, family and friends anyway. Much easier on the Bunny that way.
Our first night here was spent at a lovely place, La Bertina which we liked very much, but which was booked beyond the one night. Because of the long Easter holiday, our options were limited, but we did find Il Piccolo Borgo available for three nights and stayed there. It was more of an AirBnB and we felt in the way sometime. We were finally able to move to Hotel Urbano V in the centro storico (historic district) which was comfortable, pleasant and a great location for getting around.
We checked out a nearby church in advance to determine the Easter Sunday Mass schedule. Though I’ve not been feeling 100%, walking and exercise feel good and since we planned to be here for Easter, we thought we’d celebrate by going to Mass. The church did not fall down nor did lightning strike as we entered which was a good sign.
Montefiascone is and was located at a crossroads of several Roman roads and pilgrimage routes and its churches hold a lot of history. San Flaviano was built in 1032 in the Romanesque style and subsequently repaired and enlarged with three Gothic pillars in the 14th century.
It’s impressive on the outside, but when we wandered inside its unlocked doors, we nearly gasped at its simple beauty. It’s quite dim, lit only with natural light for our visit. Beautifully arched, vaulted ceilings caught our attention immediately.
As we explored further, we saw rich, vibrant frescoed walls and the single tomb of the drunkard, Defuk (heaven knows why he’s there… because he was a bishop, maybe?). The altar is simple with a painting of the church’s patron saint, San Flaviano, on horseback behind it.
Being here for a nearly a week has allowed us to wander the streets and get a feel for the place. There is a large, modern grocery store, Coop (co-op) that has convenient hours, doesn’t close in the afternoons for riposo and is actually open on Sunday mornings. We shopped there frequently for our evening ‘picnic’ supplies.
Beyond the convenience factor, however, it’s the smaller shops that are more interesting and offer better photo opportunties and lessons in Italian. I’ve been trying to pick up at least one new word a day. Not all words, however, are that helpful in everyday chat. Ladybug? Not so much, but fish and artichokes … yum.
I’m feeling somewhat better, but I’m still unable to carry a full pack for any distance. After a few days of laying low, we are feeling itchy to be moving and have decided to use Montefiascone as a base to complete a few legs of the Via Francigena, returning by bus at the end of each day. A slow process ‘with a loss of style points’ as our son aptly mentioned, but still making some progress.
Join us for as we go forward and backward, but walk the walk in the coming days.