You’re going to be a hard place to beat, Mango, but, oh, that Duomo

We woke to the sound of rain but it’s a travel day, so it was fine. We made coffee and had the leftover bread for toast, then packed up. While packing we heard the hound dogs barking, again. We thought last night that they were hunting dogs, as we saw some men with the dogs and carrying guns. Watching them in the fields today, it seems that their job is to just chase birds and other pests aware from the grape plants. Here is a video of them running on the road, but for some reason we lost the sound track.

Leaving the Cuneo province, we agreed that we would come back. It was quiet and charming, and all those vineyards! We drove for 45 minutes to Asti to go to an Aldi grocery store – we use them in the US and wanted to see the difference here. It wasn’t much bigger than ours but in addition to groceries, they carried some clothes and even tools. We bought a couple things then went on to a large Co-op grocery to get coffee pods for our machine at home (so much cheaper), green olives (we’re really going to miss them), pastas that we can’t get at home, chocolate, and snacks for the kid in all of us!

Aldi in Asti
Aldi in Asti

We stopped at a Caffeteria Pilone (just a small coffee shop) for cappuccinos and jam-filled croissants – ate them in the car and made a terrible mess. Realizing we had too much time (couldn’t check in till 1500 in Milan), we drove to see what downtown Asti was like and found an outdoor market that went on for blocks. We scoped it out – bought kitchen towels and cute little umbrellas for our two grandbabies.

Street market in Asti
Family buying cheese and bread at street market in Asti
Chestnuts, peppers, pomegranates, squash
The people of Asti sure seem to like their fried dough; there were at least 5 stands like this at the street market
Asti street market with banners; we can’t tell if these are neighborhood banners or not, but we saw other, different banners as we drove through town.

Back at the car, we drove using the Autostrada (tollway) to Milano in the rain. The line to wait to pay at the toll plaza was a crazy 30 minutes – the Italian drivers did a bit of line hopping – they are the Worst at taking their turn (we learned that on a cruise in a food line).

Our plan was to drop Linda and the luggage at the Airbnb before check-in and allow Dave to return the rental car at the train station. That worked out pretty well – Linda sat in the living room while Dave took the car back and the housecleaner finished the bathroom. The apartment, second floor AND an elevator, is very nice and is about a fifteen-minute walk to the Duomo di Milano (the cathedral, Milan’s most famous landmark).

Entry area in Milan Airbnb
Living area in Milan Airbnb
Kitchen in Milan Airbnb
Bedroom in Milan Airbnb
Second bedroom in Milan Airbnb

Once Dave returned, we walked to the Duomo, passing shops, gelaterias and throngs of people, mostly tourists and tour groups. We hadn’t eaten much today but one of Milan’s claims to fame are their ‘aperitivo happy hours’ – some of the bars even have buffets of food and try to outdo each other! We settled for a well-known place called Camparino – all the drinks were Campari-based (bitter orange) and included a selection of five appetizer bites: crunchy green olives, pesto pastry, fish mousse in a small pastry boat, chili-spiced roasted almonds, and a tiny yeast bun with rosemary salt. Dave had a Boulevardier and Linda had a Garibaldi. This bar had a view of the Duomo and the crowd heading into the Galleria, the famous designer mall (Prada, Armani, Dior, Yves St. Laurent etc.).

Galleria in Milan
Milan Duomo
Bar at Camparoni
View from Camparoni where we had drinks and aperitivo
Aperitivo at Camparoni
Garibaldi (Orange Juice and Campari) and Boulevardier (Campari, Torino Sweet Vermouth, Wild Turkey Rye)

When we finished, we walked through the mall and out the side, watching people enjoy the Piazza there and taking photos/selfies. We walked through a few shops, looking for nothing. We rarely shop in stores anymore, so it was kind of fun. As we headed back to the apartment, Dave suggested we stop for gelato – had to get the dairy group in since it felt like all we’d had today was carbs. Dave had cheesecake raspberry and a very strong lemon; Linda had salted caramel and almond-hazelnut chocolate.

Entry to Galleria and the Milan Duomo
Duomo with stained glass lit from inside
Linda at the Duomo

Back at the apartment, we worked on the blog and talked a bit about the next two days – we are winding down and looking forward to heading home.

If you would like to see more detail on the pictures or a couple we didn’t include, you can click here: 2022-10-09 Mango to Milan.

Orvieto to Rome … what a day

Our day began with us finishing our packing for Rome and having a leisurely conversation with Jim and Anne.  Our train was scheduled to depart at 11:20, so at 10:00 we headed out for the funicular (video able here) and then to the train station.

Funicular in Orvieto
Looking up at Orvieto from the lower funicular station

Well, that’s when the “fun” began.  Our train was now delayed until about 12:20. We had already planned to have a caffe drink with Jim and Anne before we left, now it would just be a longer time to drink our cappuccinos.  Oh, wait, now the train is delayed until 12:45 and the stops at the two Rome stations are cancelled.  We will now have to get off the train in Orte and change to the next train to Rome.  Let’s look at the schedules.  Oh, okay, we get in 4 minutes before the delayed train to Rome leaves.  And they are on the same platform.  Good, that’s what we’ll do.  Oh, hold on, now the train to Rome is on time and we’ll miss it.  The next train to Rome through Orte is the train that comes through Orvieto at 13:27. Let’s just stay in Orvieto and talk with Jim and Anne and the couple we met at the station who are from Owatonna, Minnesota.

All right, the train arrived in Orvieto about seven minutes late, but that’s fine.  We’re on the train and we arrived in Rome at about 15:00.  A little later than we had hoped, but it works, just fine.  We stood in line for, maybe, 15 minutes for a taxi, but once we were in the car, things went very well.  We arrived at the apartment and were met by Alessandra, our host. In addition to being an Airbnb host, she has her PhD in anthropology and works at the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography. She was a wealth of information, though, maybe, a bit verbose.

Buon Giorno, Roma
Buon giorno, Roma
Halfway through the taxi queue
IInstitute for the History of Italian Resigimento (Italian Unitication)
Our Airbnb host, Alessandra
Kitchen and living area of apartment in Trastevere
Balcony, kitchen and bathroom in apartment in Trastevere
Kitchen, living room, and bedroom in apartment in Trastevere
Balcony at apartment in Trastavere

After having a bite of bread and a beer at the apartment, we went exploring in the Trastevere neighborhood, in which our apartment is located.  This is an amazing area.  The two things that we didn’t really care too much for were, lots of graffiti (not the cool stuff, mostly just tags) and it’s the weekend.  Guess we weren’t thinking clearly when we booked here for a Saturday night.  It is very crowded and surprisingly the Italians are very loud (where is that sarcasm when you need it). We did get to see a beautiful church, Santa Maria in Trastevere and another, St. Crisogono, but both had Saturday Mass being held, so pictures aren’t our usual look. In fact, the only pictures at St. Crisogono is of its intricate mosaic floor and belltower.

Neighborhood piazza
Early evening in Trastevere (17:15)
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Sanctuary of Santa Maria in Trastevere (Saturday night mass was in progress)
Sanctuary of Santa Maria in Trastevere (Saturday night mass was in progress)
Santa Maria in Trastevere apse
Sanctuary of Santa Maria in Trastevere (Saturday night mass was in progress)
Apse in sanctuary of Santa Maria in Trastevere (Saturday night mass was in progress)
Copper ceiling of Santa Maria in Trastevere
Ceiling in sanctuary of Santa Maria in Trastevere
Painting of Santa Mary on copper on ceiling of Santa Maria in Trastevere
Fresco on exterior wall of Santa Maria in Trastevere with pieces of Christian relics around it
Linda in front of Fountain at Santa Maria in Trastevere (wish we had gotten a better picture of couple at the fountain … they were proud soon to be parents taking pictures)
Examples of graffiti
Mosaic floor in Saint Crisogono
Bell tower of Saint Crisogono
Building in Trastevere

During our afternoon stroll, we stopped to have a drink at Freni e Frizioni (Brakes and Clutches).  Linda had read that they served a great aperitivo.  Well, she was right.  There were multiple rice and pasta dishes, humus, cous cous, and other things.  A very nice spread for “free”.  The drinks were odd.  Dave had a Puppet (Bulleit, Yellow Chartreuse, Lemon, Sugar, Mango & Pink Pepper Chutney) and Linda had a Wild Style (Pisco Porton Italia, Acid Green Apple, Matcha & Wasabi Syrup, Ancho Reyes Verde, Egg White).  Both were very good.  While we sat outside at the bar, the temperature dropped dramatically and the wind really picked up.  We decided it was time to get out of our warm weather clothes.

Puppet at F^F
Wild Style drink at F^F
Puppet at F^F
Aperitivo at Freni e Frizone

Dave suggested we eat something (oddly, we saw a Mexican restaurant and that sounded appealing to him).  Linda said she had enough aperitivo, so she wasn’t hungry.  Dave suggested we go change and head back out.  We started back to the apartment and came upon a restaurant with a takeaway door.  Dave ordered a meatball sandwich and it was really good.

Woman making Dave’s meatball sandwich
Dave’s dinner/meatball sandwich

We changed into long pants and a sweater/jacket (depending on which of us you are) and went back out for another walk.  The weather was much better.  The wind had slowed and that made all the difference in the world.  It was so much better, we had gelato (We know, who would have thought).  Along the way, we encountered a jazz band playing on the street.  If you’d like to hear a little bit of their music, you can click here: Trastevere Street Music.

Pizza just down from our front door
These two waiting lines converged at this corner. We believe they are waiting for dinner (about 20:30)
GELATO! – milk chocolate and cream caramel for Dave and raspberry and white chocolate for Linda
Street scene in Trastevere (about 21:15)
Street scene in Trastevere (about 21:15)
Tiber River from Ponte Sisto footbridge

We decided we had had enough fun for the day, so we went back to the apartment and started thinking about tomorrow.

If you would like to look at the pictures in the post in more detail, you can click here: 2022-09-17 Orvieto to Rome

Orvieto – Day 2

Sleeping well in Orvieto with windows open for the nice cool breeze, despite outdoor noise which can go on till midnight (conversations and street noise) then starts again at 6am. Strangely enough, it’s not bothering us… we are sleeping through it.

We started a load of wash to start organizing for our departure tomorrow. Dave and Linda took a walk to a cafe at 09:30 to use their internet, get a caffe and a croissant. We sat at an outside table and smelled sauce and pasta cooking. We were there about an hour to get our internet stuff done and send the blog out.

Back at the house, we hung up all the laundry (like they do here in Italy – low humidity so dries fast even on racks in the house; hang it outside in the breeze and it could be dry in an hour!).

Then it was time to walk again so all four of us headed to the other side of Orvieto, about 45 minutes time, and over by the top of the funicular. We took some photos, stopped in a shop selling custom shoes only to find that the owner’s wife was from Columbus Ohio and went to school at Warren Wilson College near Black Mountain, NC!

Our room at Jim and Anne’s is through the window in the top center
Orvieto architecture
Orvieto Theater
Orvieto street
Leg of cinghiale (wild boar)
Orvieto street
Plants and vines
Linda in custom leather shop in Orvieto (Hannah in background received her MFA at Warren Wilson College in Swanannoa, NC – about 30 minutes from our house)
Orvieto street
Linda, Jim, and Anne on a street in Orvieto

We headed back after taking pictures at the top of the summit and stopped for lunch at The Palace where we had pizza and beer. The fun here was the discussion we all had about our Italian relatives – we laughed and learned and even disagreed some! We’re all thinking about our trip next week to a small town southeast of Rome where Dave’s and Jim’s great-grandmother is from. Stay tuned.

Entrance to park near funicular
Orvieto’s wall and cities in the valley
Communities and land surrounding Orvieto
Communities and land surrounding Orvieto
Communities and land surrounding Orvieto
Today’s lunch consisted of two types of pizza and two types of beer
Today’s setting for lunch
Jim and Dave at lunch
Beer and pizza

On our way back to the apartment, we stopped at the Church of St. Joseph.

Jim, Anne, and Dave on a street in Orvieto
St. Joseph’s church in Orvieto
St. Joseph’s church in Orvieto
St. Joseph’s church in Orvieto

Five thousand steps later we are back at the house for more laundry detail and our packing for several days in Rome.

Anne planned a friends get together for 18:00. We went to the bar where Jim and Anne met all these people when they arrived earlier this year. We enjoyed the conversation and understand even more why Jim and Anne enjoy it here.  We took a short walk to the edge of the wall to capture some sunset pictures.

Time with Jim, Anne and some of their friends at the Blu Bar
Orvieto sunset
Daline (South African that works for UN) and Anne overlooking the valley below Orvieto
Orvieto sunset
Orvieto sunset
Orvieto sunset
Dave’s Gin and Tonic enjoying the beautiful sunset
Orvieto sunset
Sunset in Orvieto

After a little more time at with friends we left to get some takeaway dinner at a restaurant run by a Ukrainian couple.  We had sandwiches and pasta.  It was a nice meal to end the day.

Tomorrow, we head to Rome late in the morning.