Travels in Italy–Part Two

Swiss guardsPat here, still rambling about our Italy trip. (The Vatican's masked Swiss guards to the left just because) In my last segment, I was so eager to get to hill country that I forgot to mention Rome at all. We’ve visited Rome several times over the years. It’s still a very busy city, much of it walkable if you’re staying in the forum area, which we were. The beauty of this visit was that the number of tourists was waaaay down. The lines at the forum and the Vatican were, at best, maybe fifteen minutes long. The guides—just now getting back to work after our long Covid vacation—were ecstatic about how much more they could show us without crowds.

Everyone can read about the major sights (we brought home a fascinating book with overlays showing how the ruins would have looked originally–there's the coliseum in its glory), so I’d rather talk about the experiences. Rome was a drastic Rome bookchange from the tiny villages of the Amalfi coast. We had so many choices, we could spend the day just trying to decide where to eat.

Although it meant catching a taxi back to the hotel, we were glad we followed the guide to the Pantheon. Most of Rome is about ruins, but the Pantheon is still complete. Originally a JewelsRoman temple built in the first century AD, it’s been a Catholic church since the sixth century. The structure is simple, but it’s absolutely amazing to imagine builders with no formal education creating a vast, unreinforced concrete dome that has held up through the centuries, where palaces have crumbled to the ground. PantheonInside, they had displays of all the jewelry and coins that have been found under and around the church, which I found fascinating.

Under experiences, note that the plaza in front of the Pantheon is a huge gathering place, mostly for tourists because of the restaurants and cafes nearby. And where there are crowds, there are thieves and beggars. One particularly entertaining beggar appeared to be a drama student practicing her part as a crone, limping in black widow’s rags, holding out her little can, and muttering with great skill. <G> Unfortunately, another of our party

Pantheonplaza

Pantheon plaza "rome-pantheon-facade-canon-ts-e-24mm-f35l-a7r-cr-01043-resized" by alcuin lai is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

didn’t pay close attention to her purse and lost the cell phone she kept in an outside pocket. (Scary part is that her purse was exactly like mine.) Given that many of us keep our plane tickets, passport and vaccination information, and all manner of other valuable information on our phones, this can be a vacation-ruining experience. So if you go, keep your purses zipped and pockets buttoned!

 

We probably walked five or six miles a day in Rome, but even that wasn’t enough to walk off the meals. I think I’ve already mentioned the smorgasbord of sweets, cheeses, and salamis available at our breakfast buffets. My curiosity demanded that I taste everything, of course. Our usual trick of eating big lunches and small dinners didn’t fare well in the city. Pizza could be had on every corner, but near the historical sights, finding an open sit-down restaurant at lunchtime that wasn’t packed with tourists was Pizzanigh on impossible. And since service was designed for people who liked to spend hours at the table. . . we had to do as the Romans do and grab whatever we found for lunch, which was almost always pasta or pizza. (and there is no such thing as pepperoni in Italy–it's salami) I’m not complaining, but my scale did when we got home. <G>

Since our hotel was in a fairly residential area, our guide pointed out the streets where the locals dined. Again, we ran into our cultural divide. I grew up rural, eating early and going to bed early. Romans, on the other hand, eat late and make a festive occasion of every evening, or so it seemed. Restaurants are often small and owner-operated. They didn’t open until six or seven in the evening and were often fully booked. Reserving tables was a trifle difficult when we had no idea where we were going. (amazingly, we took no pictures of food! Had to hunt for images online, sorry.)

ChefBecause of Covid, as here, much of the dining spilled into the streets. So once we snagged a table, we could watch local families gathering and greeting. We could even wave at others of our group roaming up and down, searching for a place that still had seats. This is where it would have been handy if we’d known the Italian hand signals. The chef for the restaurant we chose asked how we enjoyed our dinner. At that point, we hadn’t picked up the lingo yet. So he taught us what he wanted—the fingers touching thumb gesture and benissimo! We happily obliged, especially since wine was extravagantly cheap there, and we’d ordered an entire bottle.

I’ve already spent way too many words just describing Rome when I really want to get to Tuscany and Umbria. So I’ll squeeze in our first encounter with the hill country and leave the rest for the next blog.

After leaving Rome, we stopped in Orvieto, not necessarily the most traveled tourist spot because the medieval town is at the top of a hill behind an enormous towering wall that buses can’t scale. We were fortunate to be able to park below the town and take an elevator up. Most people have to use the tram. I’ll save our Orvieto experience for the next blog. Orvietowall

Since we were talking about food, I’ll finish up here with our tale of dining al fresco at Casa Segreta, the family-owned farm of a well-known chef.(shown above) We were greeted with glasses of Prosecco and the family’s dogs and cats, then toured the grape vines to see the varieties he grew. We’d seen truckloads of grapes going by as we drove up because it was harvest season.  Eventually, we all sat down at the table and as his students brought out appetizers and salads, the chef showed us how pasta was made. Admittedly, we all goggled as he simply threw eggs into flour Moonand produced magic. The dough has to sit before it can be cut, so he had a round prepared and showed us how much work it was to roll it out. I’d have to retire to my fainting couch after that much exertion. But the results were scrumptious.

The sun set over the rolling hills as we ate, and the full harvest moon rose later as we sampled the wines. It was an amazing, educating evening of conviviality and really turned on my Covid-traumatized muse. I may not name names as I write this next book, but you’ll know where I’m talking about when you read it!

Do you have any spectacular moments that make you wish you could video the memory in your head?

90 thoughts on “Travels in Italy–Part Two”

  1. I am so enjoying reading about you Italian travels. I have loved Italy on every visit, particularly Tuscany because of the wonderful old buildings in towns like Siena and San Giminiano, the views and the food. That said, I’ve just read a fabulous novel se5 mostly in Calabria and I’m now keen to check out that part of the country. As for spectacular moments, it’s a bit like the books I read – the place I’m visiting right now is always the best.

    Reply
  2. I am so enjoying reading about you Italian travels. I have loved Italy on every visit, particularly Tuscany because of the wonderful old buildings in towns like Siena and San Giminiano, the views and the food. That said, I’ve just read a fabulous novel se5 mostly in Calabria and I’m now keen to check out that part of the country. As for spectacular moments, it’s a bit like the books I read – the place I’m visiting right now is always the best.

    Reply
  3. I am so enjoying reading about you Italian travels. I have loved Italy on every visit, particularly Tuscany because of the wonderful old buildings in towns like Siena and San Giminiano, the views and the food. That said, I’ve just read a fabulous novel se5 mostly in Calabria and I’m now keen to check out that part of the country. As for spectacular moments, it’s a bit like the books I read – the place I’m visiting right now is always the best.

    Reply
  4. I am so enjoying reading about you Italian travels. I have loved Italy on every visit, particularly Tuscany because of the wonderful old buildings in towns like Siena and San Giminiano, the views and the food. That said, I’ve just read a fabulous novel se5 mostly in Calabria and I’m now keen to check out that part of the country. As for spectacular moments, it’s a bit like the books I read – the place I’m visiting right now is always the best.

    Reply
  5. I am so enjoying reading about you Italian travels. I have loved Italy on every visit, particularly Tuscany because of the wonderful old buildings in towns like Siena and San Giminiano, the views and the food. That said, I’ve just read a fabulous novel se5 mostly in Calabria and I’m now keen to check out that part of the country. As for spectacular moments, it’s a bit like the books I read – the place I’m visiting right now is always the best.

    Reply
  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It banishes the cabin fever I often feel, since my old body and advanced deafness are keeping me housebound.
    A happier note on that, my daughter in Omaha has been making visits each month in order to help us conquer this. We know there are steps we can take; she is helping us find them and implement them.
    We won’t get younger, but she’s helping us restore some of our autonomy!
    Keep the armchair travels coming, please.

    Reply
  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It banishes the cabin fever I often feel, since my old body and advanced deafness are keeping me housebound.
    A happier note on that, my daughter in Omaha has been making visits each month in order to help us conquer this. We know there are steps we can take; she is helping us find them and implement them.
    We won’t get younger, but she’s helping us restore some of our autonomy!
    Keep the armchair travels coming, please.

    Reply
  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It banishes the cabin fever I often feel, since my old body and advanced deafness are keeping me housebound.
    A happier note on that, my daughter in Omaha has been making visits each month in order to help us conquer this. We know there are steps we can take; she is helping us find them and implement them.
    We won’t get younger, but she’s helping us restore some of our autonomy!
    Keep the armchair travels coming, please.

    Reply
  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It banishes the cabin fever I often feel, since my old body and advanced deafness are keeping me housebound.
    A happier note on that, my daughter in Omaha has been making visits each month in order to help us conquer this. We know there are steps we can take; she is helping us find them and implement them.
    We won’t get younger, but she’s helping us restore some of our autonomy!
    Keep the armchair travels coming, please.

    Reply
  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It banishes the cabin fever I often feel, since my old body and advanced deafness are keeping me housebound.
    A happier note on that, my daughter in Omaha has been making visits each month in order to help us conquer this. We know there are steps we can take; she is helping us find them and implement them.
    We won’t get younger, but she’s helping us restore some of our autonomy!
    Keep the armchair travels coming, please.

    Reply
  11. Sigh, and I’m not sure I can even begin to cover all those wonderful old towns in a single blog! Looks like I’m heading for more than one blog down the road. And now you’ve given me incentive to start hunting for more places we haven’t been so we can return!

    Reply
  12. Sigh, and I’m not sure I can even begin to cover all those wonderful old towns in a single blog! Looks like I’m heading for more than one blog down the road. And now you’ve given me incentive to start hunting for more places we haven’t been so we can return!

    Reply
  13. Sigh, and I’m not sure I can even begin to cover all those wonderful old towns in a single blog! Looks like I’m heading for more than one blog down the road. And now you’ve given me incentive to start hunting for more places we haven’t been so we can return!

    Reply
  14. Sigh, and I’m not sure I can even begin to cover all those wonderful old towns in a single blog! Looks like I’m heading for more than one blog down the road. And now you’ve given me incentive to start hunting for more places we haven’t been so we can return!

    Reply
  15. Sigh, and I’m not sure I can even begin to cover all those wonderful old towns in a single blog! Looks like I’m heading for more than one blog down the road. And now you’ve given me incentive to start hunting for more places we haven’t been so we can return!

    Reply
  16. I love this! I have never been to Italy but am going on a cruise there next Spring for our 50th and am so excited. Reading this makes the whole thing seem real after these past 2 years of nothing! At my age it’s now or never so I am more than ready and these posts add to my determination. Thank you so much. Meals out and experiences with the people you love are so precious and I am really lucky to actually have those videos in my head! I can recall things from over the years and see them clear as a bell in my mind’s eye. Spent a lot of the covid time doing just that.

    Reply
  17. I love this! I have never been to Italy but am going on a cruise there next Spring for our 50th and am so excited. Reading this makes the whole thing seem real after these past 2 years of nothing! At my age it’s now or never so I am more than ready and these posts add to my determination. Thank you so much. Meals out and experiences with the people you love are so precious and I am really lucky to actually have those videos in my head! I can recall things from over the years and see them clear as a bell in my mind’s eye. Spent a lot of the covid time doing just that.

    Reply
  18. I love this! I have never been to Italy but am going on a cruise there next Spring for our 50th and am so excited. Reading this makes the whole thing seem real after these past 2 years of nothing! At my age it’s now or never so I am more than ready and these posts add to my determination. Thank you so much. Meals out and experiences with the people you love are so precious and I am really lucky to actually have those videos in my head! I can recall things from over the years and see them clear as a bell in my mind’s eye. Spent a lot of the covid time doing just that.

    Reply
  19. I love this! I have never been to Italy but am going on a cruise there next Spring for our 50th and am so excited. Reading this makes the whole thing seem real after these past 2 years of nothing! At my age it’s now or never so I am more than ready and these posts add to my determination. Thank you so much. Meals out and experiences with the people you love are so precious and I am really lucky to actually have those videos in my head! I can recall things from over the years and see them clear as a bell in my mind’s eye. Spent a lot of the covid time doing just that.

    Reply
  20. I love this! I have never been to Italy but am going on a cruise there next Spring for our 50th and am so excited. Reading this makes the whole thing seem real after these past 2 years of nothing! At my age it’s now or never so I am more than ready and these posts add to my determination. Thank you so much. Meals out and experiences with the people you love are so precious and I am really lucky to actually have those videos in my head! I can recall things from over the years and see them clear as a bell in my mind’s eye. Spent a lot of the covid time doing just that.

    Reply
  21. What a wonderful idea. I just returned from a 11 day Mediterranean cruise. The hubby and I were able to enjoy Naples, Florence and Pisa as part of the Italian leg of the voyage. A few years ago we also had the pleasure of spending a three days each in Rome & Venice. I love Italy, the people, the food and the culture. I’m into scrapbooking and I’m always pulling out my travel book which brings back so many happy memories.

    Reply
  22. What a wonderful idea. I just returned from a 11 day Mediterranean cruise. The hubby and I were able to enjoy Naples, Florence and Pisa as part of the Italian leg of the voyage. A few years ago we also had the pleasure of spending a three days each in Rome & Venice. I love Italy, the people, the food and the culture. I’m into scrapbooking and I’m always pulling out my travel book which brings back so many happy memories.

    Reply
  23. What a wonderful idea. I just returned from a 11 day Mediterranean cruise. The hubby and I were able to enjoy Naples, Florence and Pisa as part of the Italian leg of the voyage. A few years ago we also had the pleasure of spending a three days each in Rome & Venice. I love Italy, the people, the food and the culture. I’m into scrapbooking and I’m always pulling out my travel book which brings back so many happy memories.

    Reply
  24. What a wonderful idea. I just returned from a 11 day Mediterranean cruise. The hubby and I were able to enjoy Naples, Florence and Pisa as part of the Italian leg of the voyage. A few years ago we also had the pleasure of spending a three days each in Rome & Venice. I love Italy, the people, the food and the culture. I’m into scrapbooking and I’m always pulling out my travel book which brings back so many happy memories.

    Reply
  25. What a wonderful idea. I just returned from a 11 day Mediterranean cruise. The hubby and I were able to enjoy Naples, Florence and Pisa as part of the Italian leg of the voyage. A few years ago we also had the pleasure of spending a three days each in Rome & Venice. I love Italy, the people, the food and the culture. I’m into scrapbooking and I’m always pulling out my travel book which brings back so many happy memories.

    Reply
  26. Loving these posts and I so want to go to Italy now, Pat! It sounds as if there is an awful lot to see and experience. Hopefully next year!

    Reply
  27. Loving these posts and I so want to go to Italy now, Pat! It sounds as if there is an awful lot to see and experience. Hopefully next year!

    Reply
  28. Loving these posts and I so want to go to Italy now, Pat! It sounds as if there is an awful lot to see and experience. Hopefully next year!

    Reply
  29. Loving these posts and I so want to go to Italy now, Pat! It sounds as if there is an awful lot to see and experience. Hopefully next year!

    Reply
  30. Loving these posts and I so want to go to Italy now, Pat! It sounds as if there is an awful lot to see and experience. Hopefully next year!

    Reply
  31. I thank you for the wonderful posts about Italy. I so appreciate you sharing the joy.
    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

    Reply
  32. I thank you for the wonderful posts about Italy. I so appreciate you sharing the joy.
    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

    Reply
  33. I thank you for the wonderful posts about Italy. I so appreciate you sharing the joy.
    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

    Reply
  34. I thank you for the wonderful posts about Italy. I so appreciate you sharing the joy.
    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

    Reply
  35. I thank you for the wonderful posts about Italy. I so appreciate you sharing the joy.
    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

    Reply
  36. When we were in Spain back in 1999 we came across a military museum that had just closed. But they had cannons on display outside in the courtyard. Some very young cadet very imperiously told us not to touch the cannons. In fact he wanted us to leave. Very snotty. A local was nearby, grinning away, as the situation was ridiculous. The cadet didn’t appreciate that my husband is bilingual and not in the least intimidated. It has been a running joke ever since. Anytime we see a cannon on our travels I tell Frank not to touch it and take his picture touching the cannon.

    Reply
  37. When we were in Spain back in 1999 we came across a military museum that had just closed. But they had cannons on display outside in the courtyard. Some very young cadet very imperiously told us not to touch the cannons. In fact he wanted us to leave. Very snotty. A local was nearby, grinning away, as the situation was ridiculous. The cadet didn’t appreciate that my husband is bilingual and not in the least intimidated. It has been a running joke ever since. Anytime we see a cannon on our travels I tell Frank not to touch it and take his picture touching the cannon.

    Reply
  38. When we were in Spain back in 1999 we came across a military museum that had just closed. But they had cannons on display outside in the courtyard. Some very young cadet very imperiously told us not to touch the cannons. In fact he wanted us to leave. Very snotty. A local was nearby, grinning away, as the situation was ridiculous. The cadet didn’t appreciate that my husband is bilingual and not in the least intimidated. It has been a running joke ever since. Anytime we see a cannon on our travels I tell Frank not to touch it and take his picture touching the cannon.

    Reply
  39. When we were in Spain back in 1999 we came across a military museum that had just closed. But they had cannons on display outside in the courtyard. Some very young cadet very imperiously told us not to touch the cannons. In fact he wanted us to leave. Very snotty. A local was nearby, grinning away, as the situation was ridiculous. The cadet didn’t appreciate that my husband is bilingual and not in the least intimidated. It has been a running joke ever since. Anytime we see a cannon on our travels I tell Frank not to touch it and take his picture touching the cannon.

    Reply
  40. When we were in Spain back in 1999 we came across a military museum that had just closed. But they had cannons on display outside in the courtyard. Some very young cadet very imperiously told us not to touch the cannons. In fact he wanted us to leave. Very snotty. A local was nearby, grinning away, as the situation was ridiculous. The cadet didn’t appreciate that my husband is bilingual and not in the least intimidated. It has been a running joke ever since. Anytime we see a cannon on our travels I tell Frank not to touch it and take his picture touching the cannon.

    Reply
  41. Love it! That’s a great story. The ones that become catch phrases are my favorites. My husband developed a habit of touching evergreens when we first hiked through a fir forest, and we now yell at him not to touch the trees anytime we go hiking.

    Reply
  42. Love it! That’s a great story. The ones that become catch phrases are my favorites. My husband developed a habit of touching evergreens when we first hiked through a fir forest, and we now yell at him not to touch the trees anytime we go hiking.

    Reply
  43. Love it! That’s a great story. The ones that become catch phrases are my favorites. My husband developed a habit of touching evergreens when we first hiked through a fir forest, and we now yell at him not to touch the trees anytime we go hiking.

    Reply
  44. Love it! That’s a great story. The ones that become catch phrases are my favorites. My husband developed a habit of touching evergreens when we first hiked through a fir forest, and we now yell at him not to touch the trees anytime we go hiking.

    Reply
  45. Love it! That’s a great story. The ones that become catch phrases are my favorites. My husband developed a habit of touching evergreens when we first hiked through a fir forest, and we now yell at him not to touch the trees anytime we go hiking.

    Reply

Leave a Comment