Allerona: Within the walls of an Umbrian hilltown
Selva di Meana and Allerona Cemetery
You're going to stop when the street dead ends at a little piazza with...you guessed it ... another view of the countryside!
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The wooded area in front of you and off to the left is the Selva di Meana. It's a protected forest with several plants that are endemic to the area. There are walking and biking trails throughout the woods. Many of them pass by the ruins of abandoned farmhouses.
Have a look ahead to the tall, skinny cedar trees are.
Thats Allerona's cemetery. Its a worthwhile place to visit after our tour. When there's a funeral in town, the mass is said at the church we just saw. Then the deceased is brought out of the church, and carried down Via Centrale to the hearse waiting in the main piazza. The hearse drives verrrryyy slowly down to the cemetery. The priest follows on foot, reciting the rosary in a megaphone. Behind him are the deceased's family and mourners. Everyone makes the walk downhill to the cemetery, and waits until the last prayers are said and the casket is put in the tomb or mausoleum. When Paolo first started working as a stonemason, he interred a lot of people. Now he'll only do it if the deceased is a relative or family friend.
I've been to many funerals here over the years. But the first time I went, I was surprised at the way people waited until the last brick was cemented over the mausoleum, or until the marble slab was set back in place over the tomb. It certainly provides a sense of closure. When that last brick goes up, it doesn't feel necessarily morbid, it just feels final.
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The doorway on your right, closest to the railing is one of those cantinas I told you about. You can go ahead and peek in. They're used today like they've been used for centuries, as cold storage for wine, olive oil, produce and cured meats. Some of them are really deep and have several underground chambers. Many were once connected by cunicoli, or tunnels. These were used as escape routes during times of siege. While most of the tunnels have been sealed off, we know of several where you can still feel fresh air circulating , meaning they must lead to somewhere!
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If you're ready to keep moving, turn around and walk back until you see the road with the plants and flowers. But instead of going back up that road, veer right down the staircase.