Made it, and as before I'll add photos when I get home.
Picking up where I left off, last night we had a very nice Artusian dinner, which began with cappelletti in broth, followed by boiled fish -- another pilgrim said trout, but it seemed more of a sea fish to me -- with home-made mayonnaise, followed by a stew, filetto alla finanziera, made with castrato, which is a castrated lamb, served in a sauce with finely chopped liver. The sauce translates roughly as "industrialist's sauce, and dates to the late 1899s, when it was popular in financial circles. The stew was followed by roast rabbit (Artusi decries the aversion his dinner guests had to roast rabbit more than once) with potatoes, and finally Torta Manovana. All served with a couple of Romagnan wines, a red and a white, and a Chianti Rufina Riserva,
Very nice, and this morning we assembled at 9, and set off following the Montone valley, which climbs steadily towards Tuscany. At first we were passed by a steady stream of cyclists and motorcyclists (the latter bent upon reaching the pass as quickly as possible), and also saw a few people on horseback Pleasant, easy walking, and after about 7 km we reached the town of Dovadola, which draws its name from "two fords," which is what distinguished the hamlet before the bridges were built. It's a pretty town, with an imposing medieval fortress (largely scaffolded), which is also known for a fall white truffle festival, and herein lies a tale.
Dovadola is tiny, about 1500 people, and despite the quality of its truffles can't compete with the likes of Alba or San Miniato. So they hired Edoardo Raspelli, an Italian critic whose press kit says he has insured his nose and palate for an exorbitant amount, to publicize and preside over the event. Raspelli did assemble a pamphlet of truffle recipes (with his picture, not Dovadola's) on the front, but come time to preside, told them he was sick, and would they kindly pay his fee anyways, thank you.
As you might guess, they are not pleased, and are trying to avoid paying someone what for them is a large amount for not showing up.
After Dovadola we continued up stream, and in another couple of hours reached Rocca San Casciano, which was the local center of Government when this section of Romagna was under Tuscan rule (until 1923, when Mussolini redrew the maps, assigning Romagna Toscana to Emilia Romagna), and as I entered town I beheld a sign inviting me to visit where they worked pietre dure, semi-precious stones, and also the Medici prisons. One advertises what one has.
I found the rest of the party lunching (and in some cases rubbing or bandaging their feet) by the river, and after we went to the town hall, where they mayor offered local foodstuffs -- there's a guy who makes a variety of thick fruit drinks, for example apple-grape, which will be perfect for hikers /of which there are many) in the summer, while they also have someone who makes excellent salami, and a Sardinian family that settled 50 years ago, began herding cattle rather than the sheep more common in Sardegna, and now make an excellent pecorino-sardo-style cheese from cow's milk.
Rocca San Casciano's irregularly shaped main square has pretty porticoes that bring to mind the porticoes in the square in Greve in Chianti, while there are Medici coats of arms on more than one building. After admiring a Della Robbia in the church on the square we set out for Portico di Romagna, another 8 km up the valley.
On the way we passed a bizarre sculpture garden assembled by a guy who retired and then began overtones make and put on display sculptures from whatever he found, Interesting to look at, and after that it was one pretty view after another until I reached Portico di Romagna, where the mayor greeted us with considerable enthusiasm, and Champagne was poured.
Portico is a pretty town, perched on a hill with fortifications at the top of the hill, and -- I am told -- a pretty bridge in the valley below that dates to the year 1000. I should go, but my feet are complaining, and tomorrow 27 km (about 17 miles) await us, including a mountain pass, and it's supposed to rain.
Departure is schduled for 8 AM. Wish us luck.
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