Arriving in Bevagna: Waterfalls, Washhouses – and a Warm Welcome
Just a couple parking lots are outside of Bevagna’s medieval walls. They’re free and just a few cars are parked in them – and they’ll probably be of local bevanati. Already a sign that you’ve arrived in one of Umbria’s less known and less visited Umbrian medieval towns.
Best place to park is on the southwest side of town in the Parcheggio Clitunno – right on the Clitunno River, under the poplar trees.
Steps from the parking lot lead up to a bridge spanning the Clitunno River and leading you into Bevagna.
Below the bridge, you’ll see the lavatoio, the wash area where the local women chatted together as they scrubbed their wash, rinsing it in the river
On the other side of the bridge, the gardens of Bevagna families spread out between a section of the Bevagna medieval wall and the Clitunno River.
A Bevagna friend, Analita, remembers that some washing was done in the lavatoio (“washhouse”) even about thirty years ago, “but by that time, the local women were washing only blankets perhaps and heavy quilts, maybe rugs…”
The washing machine had come and altered an Italian small-town “social” event – and in Bevagna, the clothes-washing “social gathering” at the lavatoio was for all ages. An elderly Bevagna (amateur) historian, Dr. Silvano Piatti, once told me that when he was a child, all the children swam, dove and jumped off the bridge and lavatoio roof as their mothers kept an eye on them as they washed.
And the bevanati call that pool of water “L’Accolta” meaning “the gathering together of people.”
I met Professor Piatti on that bridge above the Accolta over twenty years ago when I was in Bevagna to study the monuments for my Umbria guide exam. I had my Touring Club guide book out, set on the wall of the bridge as I read. With sparkling eyes, he placed his cane against the wall and asked me, “Sa la storia di questo posto?” (“Do you know the story of this place?”) And then he shared his memories of childhood swims in the Accolta below us.
I used to meet dear Professor Piatti out walking in Bevagna when I was doing my tours. I had taken photos of him now and then with my tour guests but only a couple remain. Here’s one from 2016:
…and this one (2008) with Professore Piatti (on the right in a suit and tie) joining some of his cronies at a caffé on Bevagna’s main street. When I stopped to greet all during a family tour, the Bevagna signori were delighted to pose with the five American children in my tour group:
I found these photos recently of Professor Piatti recounting Bevagna history some years ago to a group from Rome in Bevagna’s frescoed theater, Teatro Torti:
After their trip, a participant wrote:
“…(our) participants were able to visit incomparably lovely historical and artistic sites with the precious accompaniment of Professore Silvano Piatti, a person of great culture and gifted with immense wisdom who did not just open doors to us generally closed to the public but showed to us hidden details, stories and legends….giving to us (gifts of) uncommon warmth (simpatia) and rare humanity. We thank him with all our hearts.”
A retired veterinarian, Professore Piatti’s passione for his Bevagna – and knowledge – has always been legendary.
As a note on the website of a lovely Bevagna hotel, L”Orto degli Angeli, recounts: “All know something, one person knows all. And that’s ‘il Professore’…he puts himself at the disposal of visitors with the light gentility of a true gentleman and he satiates…like a top chef. He explains each stone and recounts their life…he takes his leave discreetly, declining with a smile any offer of reimbursement. For him, it would be to sell his beloved town – his passion. Passions are not sold.But to give away passion is a pleasure.”
Professor Piatti is over ninety now. His dear wife died some years ago and they had no children. A care-giver takes care of “il Professore.”
If you head to Bevagna, you’ll no longer meet him walking down Bevagna’s main street as you set out to find the frescoed theater, the medieval house, the Roman mosaics and Roman theater…and all the Bevagna treasures il Professore so loved to share.
But as you leave and walk back over the bridge spanning the Accolta, perhaps you’ll remember how much he loved that spot.
I always do.
Read about Bevagna’s many Roman treasures
Click here to read about – and see! – Bevagna’s medieval festival the Mercato delle Gaite
Read about the joys of living the Gaite for visitors
Read more about the Gaite
Read about the splendor of Bevagna’s frescoed theater
Click here to read about the medieval house and other Bevagna treasures
Read about a Bevagna visit with guests in our Assisi apartments
Click here to read about – and see – Bevagna’s esteemed tailor – and other gems
Click here to read about – and see! – the Bevagna norcineria