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.

Relaxing in Orvieto

Unfortunately, the weather has changed; it is much cooler (highs in the 60s) and rainy. But, since this is supposed to be a relaxing period for us, it seems like a good time for it. We will be here in Orvieto until Wednesday, so we spent the day like we lived here.

That meant we started the morning by going to the Saturday morning market.  We bought a variety of produce, principally tomatoes, potatoes, and beans (both green and yellow).  Everything looked great and we can’t wait to eat it.

Produce at the Orvieto Saturday market
Linens at the Orvieto Saturday market
Linens from a van and the cheese truck at the Orvieto Saturday market
Cheese and meat truck at the Orvieto Saturday market

After dropping off the produce at the apartment, we picked up the grocery carts for our trip to Orvieto Scalo (the city below the butte where Orvieto is located).  We decided along the way that we needed nourishment, since none of us had eaten this morning and stopped at L’Oste del Re Cucina Tipica (that means Host of Kings Typical Cuisine).  We each had a Porchetta sandwich which is roasted pork with fennel and other spices; Jim and Anne added Pecorino cheese and tomatoes to their sandwiches and Linda and Dave had just the pork.  The sandwiches were amazing, moist and delicious.  Linda and Dave decided that we should have shared one sandwich instead of each having one.  Oh, well, we are on vacation.

Porchetta sandwich at L’Oste del Re in Orvieto
No cinghiale (wild boar), yet. But we are in the right area.

Once done eating, we walked to the bus stop and headed to Coop, the grocery store, in Orvieto Scalo. The Coop is in a mall like building with an electronics store, a home goods store, and a couple of other stores.  Dave took a quick walk through the electronics store and was surprised to find a large variety of the coffee pods we use at home and for about one-half the price.  Unfortunately, it’s too early for us to start stockpiling larger items.  Linda went to the home goods store. She was thrilled because she found some more cocktail napkins for which she had been searching.  While Jim and Anne did their grocery shopping, Linda and Dave walked through the Coop. We found more coffee pods for both our machine and some for Nespresso (which Joseph and Matt each own).  Again, too early to buy things.  We did, however, buy supplies for baking bread this week, flour and yeast, and a couple of bottles of German beer. The flour alone took us 20 minutes – the numbers 2, 1, 0 or 00 refers to how finely ground it is then there are flours graded by composition (specialized for what you are baking). We finally chose the one that was ‘tipo 00 and W330’. Now, we are concerned that the tipo 00 is too fine for bread, so we will head to Pam tomorrow to get a “stronger” flour.

View of Orvieto on our bus “tour”
Roadside stand in Orvieto Scalo – we didn’t get any, though
Shopping mall in Orvieto Scalo

Once done at Coop, we stopped at a small bar in the mall, Piano B (I guess I forgot to mention that earlier).  Linda had a Hugo Spritz, Dave a Negroni, Jim a beer, and Anne a prosecco.  While sitting in the bar, we realized the weather was looking more ominous, so, we started walking to the bus stop, where we waited for about 30 minutes for the bus. Sadly, because of the rain, we were not able to get any of the nice views of Orvieto from down below.

Dave’s Negroni being made at Piano B in Orvieto Scalo
Negroni in front and Hugo Spritz in the back
Not the best picture, but this is a view of Orvieto from Orvieto Scalo

The walk home from the bus stop was, definitely, not the highlight of the day.  The rain was coming down harder (fortunately we left all our umbrellas at home, so we didn’t have to worry about them getting wet).  Each of us was soaked when we got to the apartment.

After unpacking the groceries, there were a lot of baths and showers taken.

We stayed in for the evening and just sat around the kitchen table talking and eating the excellent antipasti and Caprese salad Jim and Anne made for us.

Back in Rome for number 43

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.

Mountains on road from Ripabottoni to Rome
Hills on road from Ripabottoni to Rome

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.

Market in Piazza Campo di Fiori
Market in Piazza Campo di Fiori
Scarves in market at Piazza Campo di Fiori
Fruit in market in Piazza Campo di Fiori
Produce in maket in Piazza Campo di Fiori
Linda with produce in market in Piazza Campo di Fiori
Produce at market in Piazza Campo di Fiori
Dave heard a guy go past and say, “I think it said Burger King”. Dave sees this as a store that competes with French Connection United Kingdom (FCUK). This is that fricking store.
The colors in this shop were stunning.

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.

Rome apartment – view as you come up from the 19 steps after the door (living area and steps to bedroom)
Rome apartment – Kitchen and laundry
Rome apartment – main floor patio (main floor is really the third floor)
Rome apartment – main floor bathroom
Rome apartment – bedroom
Rome apartment – sitting area and bedroom
Rome apartment – upstairs bathroom
Rome apartment – upstairs patio with live flowers off bedroom

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!

Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – 43rd wedding anniversary celebration
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – unleavened bread with olive oil
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – cheese from Sardinia
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – scoop of cheese from Sardinia
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – appetizer for mixed seafood (from top left, grilled octopus, fried shrimp, fried squid, squid/shark/shrimp ceviche)
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – available seafood choices
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – Linda’s meal of whitefish in white wine sauce with capers on potatoes
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – Dave’s meal of three varieties of shrimp in a scampi sauce
Delivery of crostata fragoline (anniversary strawberry tart with sparkler)
Crostata Fragoline (strawberry tart)
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – Sondro after taking video of fireworks
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – Happy Anniversary dessert
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – high-alcohol blueberry liquor
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – shortbread cookies
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – how about this fish?
Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale – waiter shaving/grating white and black truffles on a seafood dish

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.

National Institute for Insurance Against Accidents at Work – looks like a nice place to work to do Workers’ Comp

If you would like to see the pictures in more detail, you can click here: 2022-09-22 Ripabottoni-Rome.