We woke this morning and realized we would be leaving Rome today and heading back to spend time with Jim and Anne in Orvieto. We were looking forward to a little relaxation with them.
We left the Airbnb at 10:00 (check-out time), but our host was nice enough to let us leave our bags at the apartment. We said we would come back at 14:00 to get the bags (she had new clients coming in at 15:00) and that would give us plenty of time to get to our 15:30 train to Orvieto.
We headed back out to the piazza and started wandering.
Dave suggested that instead of wandering aimlessly, we should go back to The Pantheon, which was pretty close, and see if the crowds had not yet formed. Well, that was a good suggestion because we were able to walk right into The Pantheon.
The Pantheon was constructed around 126 AD. It was originally a temple dedicated to all the Gods. Since 609 AD, it has been a Catholic Basilica. As you may remember, we chose to not stand in line to see The Pantheon the other day. Well, it was so beautiful inside that we are glad we returned today.
After the visit, we needed to stop at a gelato store to let Linda get her daily fix. Today’s flavor choices were Bocia (chocolate hazelnut) and Pistachio.
We then did a little wandering and came upon an area of ruins that were the result of clearing the area in the 1920s. In addition to the ruins, there is a cat sanctuary set up here, too. We saw a few cats, but not as many as we would have suspected.
After that we decided it was time for lunch. We thought pizza would be nice before we left Rome. Linda found a pizzeria with very good ratings, so we gave it a shot. We got bruschetta di pomodoro (tomato bruschetta) and a sausage and mushroom pizza. Both were excellent.
We headed back to Piazza Campo di Fiori. This time we were on a mission to see a vendor Linda met yesterday to buy some bottles of “cello”, not lemon, though. We ended up with four little bottles with one bottle each of chocolate, coffee, coconut, and peach. They tasted good in small quantities; we’ll see how they are to drink normally. It was now time to pickup our bags and head to the train station. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a taxi on the piazza, so we had to walk a ways to the taxi stand.
We arrived plenty early for the train and waited to find out from which track/platform we would be leaving. Once we saw that we headed to the track and got on the train. Jim and Anne were out running errands, so we said we would get a drink at the train station and wait for them. Dave got an Aperol Spritz and Linda got a beer.
After a ride up on the funicular and a bus ride, we dropped off our bags and headed to Engel Keller Tavern, a German beer hall. Beers were certainly in order, but Dave wanted a break from Italian food and opted for a burger. Linda stayed more traditional and went with a margherita pizza. Everything was good. Jim unintentionally got a piece of pork that was like a shank of the leg (thought it was going to be a pork burger). Turns out it was great and we will likely return before we leave so we can all get one.
It’s been a long day for everyone, so after dinner it was time to head home and go to bed.
The four of us grabbed a cappuccino/espresso and a croissant and headed away from Ripabottoni on our return to Rome. We all felt like we were glad we came; we loved that classy little town. If there were things to do AND a grocery AND more restaurants, we could go together and buy a nice little condo. LOL.
Our 3+ hour trip back to Rome was complicated by a random stop by a pair of Italian Policia (federal police, not locals) who asked questions we didn’t understand until finally Dave took out his North Carolina driver’s license and we spent 10 minutes waiting for them to do whatever it was they were doing! He came back, said “Americano”, and let us go. Hmmmm. Another fun tale for our blog. The scenery along the way continued to impress us.
We arrived to return the rental car in plenty of time then split up – Jim & Anne to have lunch in Rome then take the train back to Orvieto and Dave & Linda to grab a sandwich at the train station before taxiing to the Airbnb for the night.
In front of the entrance door to the building was a market that filled the piazza and had everything: all kinds of pasta and dry spice combos, olive oils and balsamic vinegars, huge fruit and vegetable stands, gorgeous flower marts, clothing, leather… you name it.
We couldn’t get into the apartment yet, but they let us leave our bags and change into shorts (62° in Ripabottoni and 76° in Rome). So, we walked around the area which was more shopping than restaurants although there were a lot of those too. Linda keeps trying to find chocolate gelato with hot chili spice — maybe we’re getting the wording wrong because she knows it exists.
The apartment was our best yet (except for the fifty-seven steps to get to the main floor and fourteen more to get to the second level … we miss our lift in Florence). Dave chose a two-story flat with two balconies for our anniversary evening in Rome. Sonia, our host, met us at the door, showed us around then made sure we knew to talk to Sandro at 19:30 when we arrived at the restaurant where she had made reservations for us (her recommendation). We did a load of wash, ate fresh tomato wedges (HOW do they grow them so red, ripe, and sweet?) then got cleaned up for our evening out.
The restaurant, Rinaldi al Quirinale, was a 25-minute walk, but we only had 4,000 steps so far today, so off we went. We were greeted and shown a table and the rest was magic. Although we could see the item prices on the menu (most were cost per hectogram … 100 grams), we had NO idea how much those ‘extras’ were that they just showed up with: glasses of Prosecco, 4 kinds of bread, cheese by the scoop from Sardinia that was much like Parmigiano Reggiano for you to nibble with your bread, high alcohol berry liqueur similar to grappa, a plate of shortbread cookies AND an amazing crostata fragoline (strawberry custard tart) with an intense sparkler shooting out of it. The waiter brought it to the table with much fanfare and everyone sang and clapped. He took our phone to get a video and when he realized it was a picture, he insisted they get another intense sparkler and did it all over again!! The wait staff was so attentive and friendly; the customers were mostly foreigners. We took bets on the cost of the event and laughed when neither of us were even close!! Expensive but memorable!
We had a nice walk back to the apartment. There had been a political rally in the piazza in front of our apartment when we left for dinner, but it was all done when we returned home.
Sorry about not having a blog post yesterday, but we don’t have Wi-Fi at the house in Ripabottoni and we just didn’t have time to head down to the bar. By the way, bar here means cappuccino or alcoholic drinks all-day long. We have been able to stick to cappuccino in the morning, so far.
Rome to Ripabottoni
After getting the bags all packed and set by the door, we headed out. Because we needed another 7,000 steps before leaving Rome!
We got our usual breakfast and found it pretty quiet on the streets other than university students.
Traffic was heavy though and we maneuvered through clogged intersections on our way to the Vatican. There were several large tour groups, many couples, a few nuns, and a cardinal in the Plaza. We walked around and took some pictures.
Leaving the apartment, we took a taxi across town to the train station. We met up with Jim & Anne then sat and had a sandwich before getting the rental car. Getting the rental car at Sicily by Car was, in and of itself, quite an experience. We had four other groups ahead of us that seemed to be unable to grasp what they needed to do. When it was our turn, it still took us about 20-25 minutes, but the process went fairly smoothly. With Dave’s nervousness of driving a new vehicle (manual transmission, again), we think it took ten minutes to get out of the parking garage (in fairness, we were on the sixth floor … lol).
We left Rome around 14:00 and only thought we were going to die once (and we weren’t even out of Rome, yet). We enjoyed the three-hour ride to Ripabottoni. The landscape changed from flat to rolling with lots of wooded areas and picturesque hilltop towns. It is most amazing to think about what construction must have been like here so long ago – it’s almost like they chose tops of hills for security because there are a lot of them scattered across the landscape. We knew when we arrived that we couldn’t drive right to the house. We passed locals but figuring they didn’t speak English; we lugged our bags across the cobblestones and up stairs until we found the place on the north edge of town. It is a beautiful area of old renovated buildings that must have been gutted because they look new. Claude’s place is the most contemporary place we’ve stayed so far — ‘wood’ tile floors, big kitchen including full-sized dishwasher and table/chairs in center of room, a half bath with washing machine, dining room, and living room with fireplace, 3 bedrooms upstairs with one hall bath. Claude has furnished his home with antiques and it is just charming.
You may wonder why we are here. Dave and Jim’s great-grandmother, Concetta Paradiso, grew up here in this small town (current population 650) and we are hoping to find some family information at the church.
After settling into the house, we walked a short distance to the local bar mainly to ‘show ourselves’ to these small-town Italians who must surely wonder why we are here! The bar tab for our 4 drinks (one beer and 3 wines) was $7.50. There were so many questions we wanted to ask about this town but if someone spoke English, they didn’t speak up. Our dinner reservation was at 19:00, so we walked down the bumpy street to the restaurant, where they were waiting for us. It was a house where we walked into the main kitchen then back to the dining room that was like a white cave (rounded stone ceiling). The main cook/hostess was just what you’d expect: a roundish woman in an apron! Her two helpers were her daughter with her fiancé. The daughter spoke the most English but even then, we didn’t always understand. The food was amazing and their hospitality was outstanding. The aperitivo consisted of focaccia, tomato/cheese buns, a plate of two cheeses (pecorino and goat?) and two sausages (a red salami and an almost purple blood (?) sausage, a twice-baked potato found filled with fresh spices and a bit of cheese, and bruschetta. We had still and sparkling water, red wine, and Prosecco. The first course was two types of homemade pasta (which were sitting in large wood trays at the ends of our dining table when we arrived) – a linguine with mushrooms in a truffle sauce and a ravioli stuffed with gorgonzola and radicchio in a thin white sauce topped with small strips of pancetta and pieces of hazelnut. It was so good; we couldn’t stop eating it. Then they brought out a second course of roasted pork and rabbit rolls with a pumpkin squash cassolette and more focaccia. We barely put a dent in this course because we were so full after the first course. Then, because we are in Italy, we had tiramisu for dessert, which we all managed to polish off, it was so light and delicious. This dinner was a typical almost 3-hour affair, but their timing was spot-on and we had lots of time to relax, eat, and chat. We paid the bill and thanked them, clearly feeling that the experience was more a family style event than one you would find in a restaurant. We slowly walked back to the house, up the hill the entire way (like walking up our driveway at home eight times!).
We were all exhausted and overfed from dinner, so it was time to head to bed.
Ripabottoni – Sant’Elia – Campobasso
On Wednesday we woke this morning to beautiful views of the area surrounding Ripabottoni. We then headed to Bar Centrale to get our morning cappuccinos.
We started off on our adventure to see the town where Dave and Jim’s great-grandmother was baptized. That is the town of Sant’Elia a Pianisi. We stopped at the church where she was baptized; Jim spoke with the friar responsible for the church about the baptism records. The friar took Jim’s e-mail address and said he would send the information to him.
From there we headed to Campobasso, the birthplace of Dave and Jim’s grandfather. It is significantly larger than city than anyplace else we have encountered here. Its population is a little over 40,000. While there, we decided to have lunch at a restaurant Linda found called Monticelli. Jim and Dave were prepared for the worst, but it turned out everyone had phenomenal meals.
We returned to Ripabottoni traveling through the countryside, which means stuck behind a truck.
Once back home, we headed back to the Bar Centrale. Jim and Anne came down a little before us and they met a woman from Toronto who purchased her family home here in Ripabottoni. She will gut the home and renovate. It seems that there is federal financing available to fix properties that were “damaged by the earthquake” in 2002.
After a nice time at Bar Centrale, it made sense to have some “real” nourishment, so we drove to Morrone del Sannio, about 15 minutes away, to have dinner at Chalet Casalpiano. This turned out to be another excellent food choice. While we don’t have the names and descriptions completely for the meals (it was an oral menu), you can trust us when we say everything was great.
We then headed back to the house and began packing up to be ready to leave early in the morning to return to Rome.
We had a leisurely morning and left for the ruins of Rome at about 10:30. We crossed over the Ponte Sisto bridge and headed for the Colosseum. We enjoyed the tree lined walk aside the Tiber River.
Along the way, we encountered additional ruins of interest. The first was Theater of Marcellus. It is an open-air theater that was built by Julius Caesar in 13 BC.
As we continued our walk, we came upon the Senatorial Palace with its piazza of statues.
As we walked to the street below, we passed an old prison which afforded nice views of its roof and other buildings in the area.
When we got to the lower street, we saw the Forum of Caesar. While only ruins, it was interesting to another “building” built by Julius Caesar; this one in 46 BC. The Forum was a temple built, in part, to honor him and Venus Genatrix (foundress of the family). It also had public shops in it.
From there we made our way to the Colosseum. It remains an impressive structure to us. It is amazing that it has survived since 80 AD when it was completed. We do think some of the scaffolding is the same that was in place in 2000 when we last visited. Who knows, maybe it was also there in 80 AD.
On our way to the Roman Forum, we happened upon Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana. It is a lovely place of worship with nice pieces of artwork.
We chose not to tour the Roman Forum as we had already walked quite a bit and were at our furthest point from home.
Next, we started our trek to the Trevi Fountain. We made a stop for water and happened upon some pasta in colors we hadn’t seen before, including black and white and what may have been Gryffindor school colors.
We walked down a road that had pedestrian entries to houses above us that created a pleasant view of the multiple bridges.
Surprising as this might be, we located a gelato shop along the way to the Trevi Fountain.
Trevi Fountain was a bit of a disappointment. First, the crowds there were ridiculous. Second, having water in the fountain would have gone a long way. The statuary, however, was nice.
We headed off to the Pantheon. We, again, found a church along the way. (It’s like they are everywhere … who knew? lol) This one is called Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola. It was impressive as heck. They have a mirror set up when you arrive to be able to take a picture of the ceiling over the entry. This was a neat idea, but we chose not to do this. We did find a lot of other opportunities to take pictures, though.
When we arrived at the Pantheon, we wanted to get home and didn’t want to wait in a line that wrapped around the piazza.
We walked through the Jewish Ghetto on the way home. It is amazing to Dave the persecution that the Jews have gone through since well before the time of Christ.
We returned to the apartment around 15:00, having accumulated thirteen thousand steps! We were exhausted. Dave sat to go through the 150 pictures while Linda vegged in front of the fan, catching up on her laptop. She washed a load of clothes (the washer is located outside); then hung them up. Things dry really fast here, even inside. Electricity is expensive in Italy which is why they don’t use dryers. And the low humidity works well for them.
Realizing that the restaurant we wanted was another 30-minute walk and growing slightly of Italian food, we reconsidered. Dave suggested Mexican! Linda checked out top 5 Mexican restaurants in Trastevere and found one with good reviews that was 5 minutes away. Well, you know how long it takes us in the US to agree on decent Mexican … the best thing about this place was the salsa roja. That’s not surprising with how fresh and ripe the tomatoes are here. The tacos, fried perch for Linda and pork with habanero-citrus for Dave, were okay. The margaritas were a little lacking in flavor. Everything seemed salty. 😕
There was a bar near the apartment that we had eyed the night before so, decided to go there and write the blog. We each had an Aperol spritz (so popular here in Italy) then the waiter brought the special aperitivo (bruschetta, corn nuts, potato chips, bread with cured meat, olives!). We relaxed, wrote, and endured the smokers’ habits. Then it was time to return to do some packing.
Again, if you would like to see any of the pictures in more detail or a larger size, you can click here: 2022-09-19 Rome
The day began with Dave finishing up the blog and getting it out before we went for our morning cappuccino. We have now returned to the house, 3 hours later and what a morning it was:
Double cappuccinos and croissants at Bar Cafe Calisto
Arguing Italian men at nearby table playing cards
Off to Ponte Sisto bridge (bordering Rome/Jewish Ghetto) to begin Rick Steve’s Trass-ta-vorre walking tour.
We were lost 5 minutes into the audio! Finally had to coordinate the tour with our GPS map to make sure we were on the right path (we laughed a lot).
Hoping to be past Sunday morning masses, we found very family events at both Saint Cecelia’s and Saint Maria’s, two of the most famous Catholic churches in Trastevere (popular section just south of Rome and the Tiber River).
As Rick Steve’s talked about St Cecelia’s being the ‘church of music’ and therefore very popular for weddings, there they were! The bride and groom kneeling at the altar with friends and familia dressed in their Sunday best. We got some pictures and a video of the music.
At Santa Maria’s (looking forward to photos because the two previous times we’d peeked in, Mass was going on), a Baptism!
A sampling of Suppli (a deep-fried tomato risotto) and Cacio e pepe Arancini (a deep-fried pecorino/black pepper cheese risotto – a Roman classic) then.
Bonnie and Tom’s craft beer bar on the way home – Dupont Saison for Linda and Wild Ale Sour for Dave.
We have over 6,000 steps in that little excursion (which, according to this author, doesn’t get 3 stars).
Things we learned today:
There are a lot of Americans here too!
In the fresco in St Cecelia’s, a small-headed person is less important and square hands means they were alive at it’s creation
Italian brides have very long and elaborate gown trains
Linda likes Suppli better than Dave does
Confirmed that we both like beer!
After some work on the blog and a little R&R, we headed back out. For the first time, we crossed the bridge, leaving Trastevere, for the first time. We had gone half way before, but had not ventured to the other side of the Tiber. We had hoped to have an early dinner over there, but every place we wanted to check out didn’t open until 19:00 (yes, we know that’s early for here). We made our way back into Trastevere and had dinner at Tonnarello. This is the place that had the extremely long lines last night. Well, the line wasn’t as long, but we waited about 30 minutes for a table. We shared an order of calamari, while Dave had the Tonnarelo Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper), Linda had the Tonnarello Carbonara. Each of the dishes was good, especially the calamari. We also each had a glass of wine. Tonnarello is a handmade pasta that is thicker than spaghetti, but similar in every other way and is typical of Roman cuisine.
On our way home, we stopped at Cheisa della Santa Maria which is almost right across the street from us. It is a pretty church with some very beautiful artwork, but it is in need of some repair.
Well, we went back out, because that’s what we do. You won’t believe it, though … we did not have gelato. We did get to listen to a couple of musical groups One a fairly rocky band and the other more of a brass jazz band. Both were really good for their specific genre. One of the fun things with the rock band was the audience participation by one young lady during Johnny B. Goode. We did a couple of videos of the rock band. You can hear them here::
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We decided we had had enough fun for the day, so we went back to the apartment and started thinking about tomorrow.