Relaxing and checking out the wine

This morning started with sitting around drinking Nespresso coffee and enjoying the vineyards. Our peace was interrupted only by barking dogs and farm implements. Dave thought about when we lived in California and the people who bought way out in valley for the solitude of the agricultural setting. Once there, they became upset because of the smells and sounds associated with farming … lol. Dave took a little walk before stopping because the insects were bothering him.

Sunrise from the Airbnb in Mango
Grape leaves getting into autumn

Early in the afternoon, we took off for our wine tasting at Azienda Agricola Dante Rivetti. Our guide was the daughter of the owner, Dante. It was a nice adventure. Grapes were being harvested and that meant processed. It was an interesting process to see the grape skins and juice being separated from stems and leaves. We then went past stainless-steel fermenting casks. From there we went into the aging room and saw many barrels and bottles being aged. It was overwhelming to think how much wine was in this room.

Church in Rivetti from the winery
Pomegranate tree at Dante Rivetti
Harvested grapes ready to begin the process
Hopper of grapes
Workers processing grapes
Machine that separates the juice and skins from the vines and leaves
Our guide explaining to Dave how the juice is processed (the skins float to the top, five times a day the juice is pumped to the top to run through the skins)
Stainless-steel tanks
Aging room – The casks at the end are about a five-foot diameter
Special barrel at Dante Rivetti
This wine was bottled 22 years ago when we moved to California for the second time
Dante Rivetti wine barrel
Packaging area of winery

From there we headed to the tasting room. It was much bigger than we anticipated. We suspect that they do wine tours, including larger buses. As it turns out we had the place to ourselves. That was, until another couple from the US (New Jersey), showed up. They had just arrived in Milan and drove down. They knew far more about the area and grapes than we did. Last time they came to visit they shipped three cases home.

Tasting room

On to the tasting. We started with a white wine, Langhe Arneis Briccodoro. We both liked it, especially, Linda. We then had the Moscato D’Asti Riveto. Dave, not the one for sparkling wines, in general, thought this one too sweet. As he went to pour it out, Linda intervened and finished the glass. From there we went to the Dolcetto d’Alba Sitovarei. It is a red wine from young grapes that is fermented in steel. Neither of us found it interesting. Next, we tasted two vintages of Barbaresco Bric’Micca which comes from younger Nebbiolo grapes and ages for 24 months. The 2018 vintage was quite spicy (not normal for this varietal according to our NJ friend). The 2016 was much milder. We moved on to the Barbaresco Riserva Bricco di Neive. This is a 2015 vintage that is made with older vine grapes and aged for 36 months (24 months in French Oak casks, 12 months in large casks, and 18 months in the bottle). It was very good and liked by both of us. We then tasted three vintages (2013, 2017, 2020) of Barbera d’Alba Alabarda Superiore. All three of the vintages were liked by both of us, but the 2013 was our favorite. Unfortunately, when it came time to buy, we found that the 2013 was only available in magnum bottles.

Wine, cheese, meat, and breadsticks … everything looks good here

In the end we purchased six bottles to be shipped to us and took one of the Briccodoro with us to enjoy in Milan tomorrow.

As we finished up, a group of men came into the tasting room. It seemed that they must be regulars. As it turns out, it is a group of men from Switzerland who come each year. They are a group of “hobby chefs” and when they visit, they cook a meal for the people at Dante Rivetti.

The gang from Switzerland is in the house

We decided to drive into Neive (we were here briefly yesterday) and walk around the town. It is a cute town. Though Dave does not understand why, Neive seems to have quite a draw for tourists. There doesn’t seem to be that much here; though, there are two churches.

View from vineyard road
View from Neive
St. Michael’s Church
Cheisa San Michele – this church was odd; seems more like a museum now
Mary in Chiesa San Michele
Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Neive
Sanctuary of Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Altar in Church of Saints Peter and Paul
St. Michael, the Archangel statue in wood
Back of Church of Saints Peter and Paul
View from Neive
Flowers adorning the street in Neive
Chimneys on old palace in Neive
Downtown Neive

Since we attempted to make reservations too late for the restaurant we wanted to visit in Barbaresco, we needed to make other plans. So, what do you do if you can’t get into the white tablecloth restaurant? You get take-out pizza, instead. We stopped in Santo Stefano Belbo to get the pizza. While waiting for the pizza, we checked out a grocery store. Dave told Linda that he thinks grocery store walk-throughs are like walking through a museum for Linda. Dave wandered down the street to the local church, but realized it was about 18:00 on Saturday and there were a lot of people starting to enter to attend mass.

Church in Santo Stefano Belbo

We got our two pizzas for a total of 12.50 euros and, well, it showed. They tasted okay, but there was not much quantity of toppings. Such is life; we’re on vacation.

Linda navigated us home the back way, avoiding the early evening Mango traffic (that’s a joke). While Dave didn’t get to see much (the road was narrow and the edges dropped off), what he did see was beautiful.

View from road near our Airbnb
Vineyards along the road by the Airbnb
View of maturing vineyard

At the house, we put the pizza in the oven to warm it back up and settled in for the night.

If you would like to see the pictures in more detail, you can click here: 2022-10-08 Mango-Neive.

Same city … new place

This morning started with us cleaning off more dirt that settled over night and packing our bags. Dave thinks unlike at home where his clothes shrink, they seem to have expanded in the suitcase, because it keeps getting harder to close the suitcase.

With the blog in decent shape and everything packed up, we decided to get pastries and coffee at our new favorite place, Caffeteria Palazzo di Citta. Oh, can the day get worse? They are closed. We tried a place called Coffee Joint. They had mediocre doughnuts and coffee. We won’t be back. They did have Wi-Fi, though, so we got the blog uploaded there.

Chocolate filled doughnut, apple pastry, brownie

We then set out for the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. We know you thought you were through with churches. Dave says, sorry, no such luck. The Cathedral is beautiful and it holds the “Shroud of Turin”, the linen in which Christ was supposedly wrapped. While that notion has been proven to be false, it doesn’t stop people from believing.

Cathedral fo St. John the Baptist in Torino; the structure in back is actually part of the Royal Palace
Sanctuary of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Altar at Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (look through the windows behind the altar … remember that image for later)
Last Supper painting in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Last Supper painting in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Side Chapel in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Side Altar in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Crucifix in Side Altar in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Statues and frescos in Side Altar in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Side Chapel in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

After visiting the Cathedral, we headed off to the Royal Palace of Turin. Matt warned us that it was gaudy, but we thought, heck we’ve been to Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg and the Biltmore. Well, never underestimate Matt’s advice, some of the palace is absolutely gaudier that the other two. Actually, it was nice to walk through the palace and art museum connected to it. Additionally, the free garden area outside was very nice.

Dave chasing woman with camera (seriously, she asked Dave to video her as she walked and then twirled)
Entrance to Palazzo di Reali (Royal Palace)
Chapel of Royal Palace in background
Royal Palace Gardens
This art in the gardens represents the author being in the center of the damaged marble (representing the fire in the Chapel in 1997) fallen around him that now allows him to see.
Your greeting at the Royal Palace
Grand Staircase in Royal Palace
Arrival room
Nothing sets off a gaudy pink room like the addition of bird statues
Wooden floor in the Throne Room in Royal Palace
Armor/military display in Royal Palace
Ceiling in Armor room in Royal Palace
Ceiling and wallIt is essential to protect your horse, too.
With the ostentatiousde display within the palace, we were surprised by the common royal carriage
Armor for horse and knight
Everyday dining at the Royal Palace
Ceiling in meeting room in the Royal Palace
Chapel in the Royal Palace
Chapel in the Royal Palace (you may have seen this in the picture of the altar in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist)
Dome in Chapel in Royal Palace

From there we started back to the apartment (we left our luggage in the old apartment and had to pick it up at 14:00). We decided to stop at “Candy Lisa” after seeing gummy bears half the size of your hand. Linda walked through the store selecting some unique items and Dave talked to the check-out girl. She was quite surprised that we were from the USA and we chose to visit Torino. She wondered why we weren’t in Venice, Milano, or some other tourist location. We said we preferred to visit somewhere that had more of a feel of how the locals lived, though there are plenty of tourists here. As we continued, we stopped at Gelmarket. This place pretty much sells just frozen foods. This means everything from fruit to pasta meals to “second plate” meals, “international foods”, etc.

Palazzo di Madama
We decided we could live in the corner unit of this building
Pizzeria in Torino
This is what cause our pain in our apartment

We arrived at the old apartment at about 13:55, just in time. Since we couldn’t check-in to the new apartment until 15:00, we decided to have lunch in between the two apartments (please remember that the two apartments are 150 feet apart). We had a very good meal at Ristorante Conte Verde. Linda had Spaghetti Carbonara (no cream) and Dave had Spaghetti Bolognese.

Spaghetti Bolognese
Spaghetti Carbonara

The women checking us in arrived while we were eating. After Dave finished his meal, he walked over to check in. We really like this new place. It has a couple of sofa/loveseat places to sit and a desk on which we can do the blog. When Linda got to the apartment, Linda asked Dave, “How is the bed?” Dave thought, “How the hell should I know?”, but instead responded that the girl checking us in asked if I wanted to check out the bed, but he told her, thanks for the offer, but my wife is downstairs. Linda couldn’t stop laughing. Dave didn’t get why she thought this was so funny. Lol

Entry hall
When we lived in Little Rock, we called this a “Keeping Room”
Kitchen, duh
Another, duh, bedroom

After settling in here, we went out for a little more looking around. That involved checking out some men’s stores to get Dave a new shirt (Dave appreciates no comments about his repeat clothing). Not finding anything for that and a Telecom Italia Mobile store that was of no use, we went off to check out a new area. Guess what, they have a church. It is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi). It is a blasé church from the outside, but has some beauty to it inside.

Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Altar in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Chapel in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Chapel in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Chapel in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi

From there we walked a little more, stopped at Pam grocery to pick up some things, and then dropped them off at the apartment. Dave got a message about where to park the car we are getting tomorrow, so we went to check the location; it’s really close. In fact, it’s very near where we had dinner on Sunday, so we went to Il Molo, which is across the street. We had beer and wine, a meat and cheese plate, and sausages. It was a fun experience.

Meat and Cheese plate
Sausages and potatoes

We then came home (Dave thought … hey, we haven’t had gelato today). As it turns out, Dave didn’t have to twist Linda’s arm too hard to get her to say yes. Dave had Crème di Nonna Elide (kind of an orange flavor) and Cuore di Panna (core of cream … kind of plain). Linda had Gianduia (chocolate-hazelnut) and Mascarpone with Fig and Caramel. While it was good to try somewhere new, it just didn’t measure up to our standards and we won’t be back.

After gelato, we called it a night and settled in for a quiet night.

If you want to see more pictures or more detail in the pictures, you can click here: 2022-10-04 Torino

Three down, two to go

Let’s start with a couple of pictures to update you on our apartment here in Corniglia.

This ladder is three stories up from the ground below to harvest the lemons outside our apartment in Corniglia.
To help explain yesterday’s down step to go up steps, this is what we meant. The entrance to our apartment building is at the top of the stairs going up.

Well, the weather finally caught up with us.  When we woke up this morning, we were hopeful that the rain was going to pass us by. It was supposed to rain overnight, but the cars outside were dry. By the time we left about 1-1/2 hours later, it was markedly cooler, it had drizzled, and the clouds still looked menacing. Nonetheless, what can you do?  We have four other towns to see in the next two days.  Let’s head south and east to Riomaggiore and Manarola today.

While the same view as yesterday, the sea and sky are not as friendly.

We made the decision to walk down to the train station. While easier than the notion of going up the stairs, it is still 33 flights of stairs with a total of 382 stairs. The walk, however, was beautiful, even with the gray skies. We arrived at the train station and got on the train about 10 minutes later. We took the train to “the end” and got off at Riomaggiore.

View from our descent on the stairs to the Corniglia train station. Note the blue of the sea.
Dave on the stairs to train station

We exited the train station and started up the hill that led into town. Much of the climb up the hills was through residential areas, causing us to wonder where the commercial area was. Of course, before we could get there, we encountered our first church of the day, Basilica of San Giovanni, (yes, there will be more later). This one is located high on the hills, so it is quite visible. It is very well maintained and drew quite a crowd.

First stop, Rimaggiore
What once was the wall around Riomaggiore (to the right is where the flat way to town is located)
Next time we come, we want to stay at this place
Next time we come, we want to stay at this place (hopefully in better weather)
Selfie in Riomaggiore (it was a day for glasses .. different ones for Dave)
Hillside homes in Riomaggiore
Hillside homes with Basilica San Giovani in the middle of the picture in Riomaggiore
Hillside homes in Riomaggiore … the white structure at the top with a church in front of it is the Riomaggiore Cemetery
Basilica San Giovani
Altar and apse in Basilica San Giovanni
Sanctuary of Basilica San Giovani
Side altar in Basilica San Giovani
Side altar area in Basilica San Giovani
Carvings on sanctuary pulpit at Basilica San Giovani
This “statue” of Madonna del Carmine wins the award for the creepiest religious artifact we’ve seen

We continued our walk and came upon our second church (dang, there are a lot of them). Linda chose to check out her map to see if she could find a place for gelato (before you start judging, it’s never too early for gelato). Dave went into the small church, Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta. While extremely small, it does have some very beautiful artistic elements.

Altar area in Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta
Altar in Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta
Stained glass windows and “crucifix” in Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta

After leaving the Oratoria, Dave met Linda on the street and we began our walk down hill, now, into town. As we walked, Dave pointed out a gelato store. Linda just looked at him and he said, “You already knew that, didn’t you?” Well, yes, she did. So, we stopped and got gelato. Today it was blueberry and peach for Dave and pistachio and chocolate-hazelnut for Linda. It was 11:30, after all, and we didn’t really have breakfast.

We proceeded down the hill and looked in a few more stores at clothing, ceramics, and other items. We also started to encounter heavy drizzle. When we reach the end of the street, we were below Piazza del Vignaiolo. This piazza is just above the marina and afforded a nice view. Unfortunately, with the weather conditions, not much was happening in the area.

Commercial area of Rio Maggiore
Small marina area from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore
Small marina area from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore
View to commercial area from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore
View to hillside homes from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore

We then realized that instead of heading back up the hill, we could walk through a short tunnel and be back at the train station. It made us think we should have come this way, but we still would have had to go up the hill at some point to see things. One special thing about the tunnel was the mosaic work done on one of the walls.

Mosaic pedestrian tunnel on way to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Video of walking through Riomaggiore pedestrian tunnel

Once back at the train station, the rain had increased quite a bit. We took cover beneath an overhang until we boarded the next train to Manarola.

A full display of graffiti, train and tunnel

The train ride to Manarola is quite short, maybe three minutes, though the conductor did make it through our car to check tickets for people.

When we exited the train in Manarola, we took another pedestrian tunnel toward the city. We had decided we would have lunch a one of the restaurants here, Trattoria del Billy. Linda looked up the location on her phone using Google Maps, but we lost connectivity in the tunnel. As we exited the tunnel, the rain started to pour harder. Dave found an overhang and stood under it to get our umbrellas out of the backpack. We then started off following Linda’s directions. She had trouble with her phone, again, Dave checked his phone, and we continued in the rain. Part of the walk/hike to the restaurant was up stairs that had so much water running down them it looked like a waterfall. Linda’s shoes and feet got soaked (Dave was lucky that his hiking shoes are waterproof). Well, Dave missed a turn and we needed to double-back and head up some more stairs.  The five-minute walk that Google mapped out took closer to 15 minutes in the pouring rain. When we got to the restaurant, we found that they were full. Another couple just in front of us took the last table.  We decided we would wait for the next table because it had good ratings and we hated for this crazy walk to be a bust!  During our 15-minute wait (Linda inside and Dave outside), the weather got so bad that the wind and rain chased many of the outside diners out of the restaurant. Fortunately, a couple left their inside seats and we were able to sit there. We were glad we waited. The service and food were amazing. We started with a half-bottle of red wine (we know, not perfect for fish, but we did white with meat last night … lol) and place our orders. For a starter we had anchovies marinated in lemon and oil. Having spent our lives making sure there were no anchovies on our pizzas, this was a pleasant surprise (thanks to Matt and Carlee for suggesting we have these). For our main meals, Linda had the traditional Trofie pasta with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans; Dave had Taglierini with fruits of the sea (clams, mussels, one-half of a small crab, razor clam, two types of shrimp) in an olive oil, garlic, and wine sauce. Both meals were well beyond our expectations. Dave ended the meal with a caffe latte. Linda ended hers by buying a bottle of cream balsamic vinegar that they had on the table (needless to say, it was very tasty).

The waterfall, otherwise known as the staircase we were climbing
It’s important to have a good slogan
Anchovies marinated in lemon at Trattoria del Billy
Interior of Trattoria del Billy
The open area to the right of the server is a dumbwaiter from the kitchen upstairs used to send down orders
Trofie with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans
Spaghetti in oil, garlic, wine sauce with mussels, clams, razor clam, crab, two types of shrimp, and squid
Raxor clam and shell

We asked the best way to the train station and, amazingly, it was the opposite direction of how we came up. He also said it would put us right in the church square.  He said we couldn’t possibly get lost and he was right. It is the San Lorenzo Church which was built in the fourteenth century and is in need of repair.

San Lorenzo Church in Manarola
Altar in San Lorenzo Church
Disrepair in San Lorenzo Church – we felt compelled to make a donation to assist in the restoration

There were few stairs and mostly gradual roads. Once back to the train we headed back to Corniglia. It was time for a little down time out of the rain.

Houses and terraced gardens in Manarola
Commercial area of Manarola
Commercial area of Manarola
Peninsula in Manarola

After a little rest, we headed back out at about 7:30. We were amazed at how desolate the town was. There were very few people on the street. On top of that we tried to cancel our reservation for dinner tomorrow night and found the restaurant closed. We really don’t get it; most of the restaurants were closed. It is Friday night, right? Lucky for us, one of the gelaterias was still open so we could, for the first time on this trip, get gelato a second time in the same day. Dave got salted caramel and vanilla with figs, local wine, and pine nuts while Linda got vanilla with Corniglia honey and a chocolate nut.

Around 21:30 some street noise picked up. There were some children playing and we could hear some men having an “Italian” conversation. You know, the kind that is friendly, but it’s loud.

It was time to start thinking about tomorrow. If all goes as planned, we will hike from Corniglia to Vernazza in the morning and then take the train to Monterosso al Mare.

More detailed pictures can be found here: 2022-09-30 Corniglia-Riomaggiore-Manarola

Siena … glad we decided to stop and see you

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, today started early for us. We were up at 06:30 and left the apartment at 07:15. We can’t thank Jim and Anne enough for their hospitality while we were there.

This is as empty as we’ve seen Orvieto. Looks like all you have to do is go out at 07:20, if you want a picture without people.

The funicolare ride was a little different today. Usually, we are with various ages of adults. We guess that when you leave this early, you end up on the school bus funicolare, as ours was filled with teen-aged people.

Some of these fine young people were our funicolare mates for the early train

Our train journey to Siena began at about 08:20. We traveled from Orvieto to Chiusi-Chianciano where we boarded a train that left at 09:00 to Siena. The scenery between the two train trips was mixed between agriculture and industry. We saw a lot of vineyards and olive trees. Were it not for dirty windows on the trains and gray skies, we would have had some more stunning pictures. After eight stops between the two, we arrived in Siena at about 10:30.

Farm from train
Farm from train

We walked to the shop next door to our Airbnb and were met by our host. She was able to let us in to store our bags and tell us about the apartment. It is, once again, a very nice apartment. We are pleased that on such a short notice (two days) we were able to find a reasonably priced place. It had not been cleaned, so we headed out to explore the city.

Entrance to Airbnb in Siena
Kitchen area in apartment in Siena
Living space and stairs to bedroom in apartment in Siena
From the living area … Kitchen on left, stairs to bedroom, and bathroom on right
Bedroom in apartment in Siena was like sleeping in a very cool cave

Our first stop was to have lunch. We decided on a Trattoria/Pizzeria on Il Campo, the major piazza in the center of the city. We decided to share a Maialina pizza; it was a meat pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, spicy salami, bacon, and ham. It was delicious. We also had drinks; Dave had a Hugo Spritz and Linda had a Bellini. It started to drizzle while we ate under the trattoria’s awning. As it turned out, that’s all there was for our afternoon and we were excited to be able to walk around without being rained upon, as we expected to get wet.

View of Il Campo from our lunch table
Bellini and Hugo Spritz at trattoria along Il Sampo
One-half of our shared pizza lunch
This was a unique sink fixture. We say sink fixture because it was more than water. The single tube is a normal water tap, but the two horizontal tubes are actually hand dryers that come on automatically once the water stops and stays on till you remove your hands.

We then went out to Il Campo and started the Rick Steve’s Walking Tour for Siena. It was a nice tour as it gave us some history about Siena and showed us some very picturesque scenes. We chose to not go into the Duomo, whose exterior was very similar to the Orvieto one. It costs 15 euros per person and photos we’d seen of the interior did not even compare to the interior in the Orvieto Duomo. On top of that, it seems that some of you may have been overdone by pictures of churches and cathedrals. So, we decided to take a break from those pictures.

This video is a 360-degree view of the Il Campo to provide you with a sense of the enormity of the piazza
Fonte Gaia in Il Campo piazza
The top of the tower at Siena City Hall
Statue in Siena City Hall that reflects the notion of Romulus and Remus being raised by wolves. Romulus and Remus are credited with starting Rome, but the connection to Siena is that Remus’s son, Senio, is believed to have founded a city named after himself, Siena.
Siena City Hall tower was one of the tallest secular towers in its time
View from Siena City Hall courtyard to the tower
These medallions on the walls of buildings indicate the contrada or neighborhood you are in. There are 17 contrada in Siena. This contrada is represented by the Eagle.
The Chigi-Saracini Palace … note how it curves with the road
Siena street scene
This balcony door was the entry to the house. It was highly sought for because you could only enter by climbing a ladder. For privacy or security, you could just pull up the ladder, a splendid idea in the 13th century.
Siena architecture and city hall tower in background
Siena Duomo
Siena Duomo
Siena Duomo – The gold fresco on the left show Mary being crowned Queen in Heaven by Jesus. The Duomo is dedicated to Mary.
Linda pointed out that if you look at the six levels of the tower the number of windows equals the floor. It is also an optical allusion that makes the tower look taller than it is.
The unfinished part of the Siena Dumo. There were plans to expand the cathedral to more than double in size. Unfortunately, when the bubonic plague (Black Death) struck Europe in 1346, one-third of Siena’s population of 50,000 died so construction ceased and it is now just a parking lot with a nice view from the top of this wall.
Little boy with his Pinocchio puppet near the Dumo
Church of San Domenico which houses a number of relics related to St. Catherine of Siena
Loggia della Mercanzia, once a place to display merchandise, is now a private club.
Statues on corner pillar of Loggia della Mercanzia
Church of St. Christopher in Piazza Tolomei
Siena street scene
Statue commemorating Sallustio Bandini, a Siena economist in Piazza Salimbeni

On the way back to the apartment, we stopped at Nannini’s, a local bakery, and got an éclair for Dave. Since Dave had an éclair, it seemed only right that we stop to get Linda gelato (pistachio and mandorla/almond). Everyone left the gelato store happy.

Dave at Nannini’s pastry shop
Just a sampling of the pastries available at Nannini’s

We took a little rest at the apartment before heading back out for dinner. We had a tough time deciding between the various recommendations our host had provided. As we looked, we wanted to make sure we would be able to order pici. Pici is a pasta that originated in Siena. It is made from flour and water … no egg. In the end, we chose an osteria called Osteria La Plana.

Our choice of restaurant was perfect. The setting was fun (we were inside, It has cooled off and there was a breeze), as was the wait staff. And the food was magnificent. We ordered Pici della Plana. The sauce for this dish was garlic oil, pepperoncino (hot pepper), tomatoes, dried basil, cherry tomatoes, and parmigiano). We also ordered a pasta dish of tagliatelle with fresh porcini mushrooms in olive oil and garlic sauce. Oh, and we had a half liter of house chianti. To finish out the meal, we had chocolate salami. To give the appearance of fat, they put shortbread cookie pieces in the chocolate. Overall, this was an excellent meal choice.

Pici della Piana noodles made with corn flour and water (with garlic oil, pepperoncini tomatoes, dried basil, cherry tomatoes, and parmigiana)
Tagliatelle with fresh porcini mushrooms
Vino Rosso at dinner; note the cool phone in the top right corner (sorry about the fuzziness, the phone focused on the wine
Chocolate salami (the light color is bits of cookie)
Photo of horse race in Il Campo. Twice a year the seventeen contrada race against each other with the winner (the horse, not the jockey) winning a banner for the contrada and the associated bragging rights.

We stopped at the grocery store and then went back to the apartment for a brief stop.  We headed back out at about 21:30 expecting a bustling city, but instead found that the streets were nearly empty. We did find a business that does cooking classes very close to us. This looks like a great thing to do the next time we are Siena (especially, if we get to have some of that beef).

This is the place we want to take a cooking class; look at the meat in the background

With nothing going on, we decided to return home for the night.

If you would like to see the pictures in more detail you can click here: 2022-09-28 Orvieto to Siena

Sunday in Orvieto

Well, it’s Sunday, so you know what that means … it’s time to go to the Duomo where the service is in Italian.  Nothing like going to a church that isn’t your faith that you can’t understand.  Actually, we were able to follow along with parts of the service and, while, maybe, we shouldn’t have, we went up and took communion.  Linda says God will forgive us.  In addition to the pictures below, here are some recordings for you to get a feel for the service and its music.

Orvieto Duomo – Altar during mass
Orvieto Duomo = Altar during mass
Orvieto Duomo – Altar after service
Orvieto Duomo – Pipe Organ pipes
Orvieto Duomo – Altar after mass
Orvieto Duomo – Statues in Rear of Sanctuary
Orvieto Duomo – Rear of Sanctuary
Orvieto Duomo – St. Thomas statue after mass
Orvieto Duomo – Rear of Sanctuary with statues and stained glass after mass

After church Linda and Dave went back to the apartment and Jim cooked fried eggs and potatoes for breakfast. They tasted so good. We hadn’t had an “American” breakfast since we left home over three weeks ago.

We decided to take advantage of the sunny skies, before they turned cloudy, and took a walk around town. Jim went with us to Pam, the grocery store, to get Manitoba flour to augment the flour we got yesterday at Coop for bread. Linda also found a chocolate-lemon bar that she had to have. It is so easy to find something you “just have to try” when you walk into one of the stores.

Jim took the groceries back to the apartment and we continued our walk. We saw a few new areas of Orvieto, just beyond where we had been. The town was crowded with the various tour groups that descended on it. We decided that having a coffee drink and small pastries at a table on one of the streets would be nice. It would be a nice break and we could take in both the local scene and the tourists (it is interesting how we have separated ourselves from groups of tourists).

Orvieto – Chiesa di Sant’Andrea
Linda and the scenery in Orvieto
Selfie and scenery in Orvieto
Steeple and rooftops in Orvieto
Rooftops and landscapes of Orvieto
Street scene in Orvieto
Orvieto Duomo
Statue above main door of Orvieto Duomo
Front of Orvieto Duomo
Main entry door of Orvieto Duomo
Frescos above side door of Orvieto Duomo
Frescos above side entry door at Orvieto Duomo
Latte Macchiato with extra shots and mini cannoli (chocolate and chocolate & pistachio) at L’Officina del Gelat in Orvieto

When we returned to the apartment, we spent the afternoon in relaxation mode.  We did very little, except sit at the kitchen table, look at computers, and talk. It was nice.

Anne prepared a delicious meal of bucatini in olive oil with zucchini, mushrooms, and zucchini flowers. Dave, who is not a huge zucchini fan, loved the meal and found himself back for seconds. The zucchini flowers were a real surprise for all of us. They were so good.

Deconstructed Caprese salad with rocket (arugula) and bucatini with zucchini, mushrooms, and zucchini flowers

Linda and Dave left at about 20:45 to see if any gelato shops were open. We found two of them and decided they needed to support them on a Sunday night. So, we each had a piccolo cup.  Linda had chocolate with hazelnut and hazelnut and chocolate (yes, they are different). Dave had chocolate with hazelnut and Stracciatella (vanilla chocolate chip).

We ate the gelato while we walked back to the apartment.  We then did a couple of “maintenance” activities like keeping track of expenses and then went to bed.

Arrivederci Roma, Ciao di Nuovo Orvieto (Goodbye Rome, Hello again Orvieto)

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.

The neighbor across the way seems to keep white pigeons. Not sure if they are for food or some other reason. The grey ones are on the outside.
The French Embassy located in Piazza Farnese is being renovated and they have built this facade in front of the entrance.
Chiesa di Brigida and bell tower located in Piazza Farnese

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.

The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Obelisk of Rames II located in Piazza della Rotunda
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – View from entrance to High Altar
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Rotunda
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – High Altar
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Contemporary painting of Jesus and the disciples
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Chapel of the Annunciation of Mary
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Statue
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Statue
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – This appears to be a painting of Jesus telling Thomas to stick his fingers in hi wounds in the Pantheon Chapel of the Annunciation of Mary
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – The tomb of Vittorio Emanuel II, the first king of the Unified Italy
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Statue
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – This picture was taken at about 10:40. The light from the opening in the top of the Rotunda seems to act as a sundial with the spot over the entrance being 12:00 noon.
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – High Altar
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Statue
Beats me, The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – but it is a pretty darn unique piece … anyone with insight, it would be appreciated in the comments
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Chapel of the Crucifix
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Madonna del Sasso above the tomb of Raphael
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Bronze bust of Raphael above his tomb
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Tomb of Umberto I, son of Vittorio II who was assassinated by an American Italian anarchist
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Statue
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Saint Joseph and the Holy Child
The Pantheon aka Basilica of Santa Maria and the Martyres – Ancient marble floors

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.

Ruins of area in Rome that was demolished in 1920s that were likely to do new construction
From at sign at the ruins with a overlay of a plan before the demolition
Ruins of area in Rome that was demolished in 1920s that were likely to do new construction

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.

Bruschetta al pomodoro at L’Angoletto Romano
Boscailola pizza (Pomodoro, Mozzarella, Mushrooms, and Sausage) at L’Angoletto Romano

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.

Lemons bigger than the oranges … what’s up with that?

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.

These guys decided they could be even more direct about their name
Rome Termini food court … this just seems wrong

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.

Dave’s beer choice for the evening at Engel Keller Tavern in Orvieto
Linda’s beer choice for the evening at Keller Tavern in Orvieto
Dave had a hamburger with an egg
Linda had a margherita pizza

It’s been a long day for everyone, so after dinner it was time to head home and go to bed.


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.

We saw these two cuties on our way back to the apartment … we’re guessing that’s the nanny, not mom
Trastevere architecture
Architecture and vegetation in Trastevere

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.

Walking up to St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square with the surrounding colonades, and the Obelisk of St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square colonades and statues of saints and marytrs on top
St. Peter’s Basilica
Saints and martyrs surrounding St. Peter’s Square

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.

View from house in Ripabottoni
Old door on one of the homes in the area we are staying in in Ripabottoni

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!).

Setting for Tuesday’s dinner in Ripabottoni (the woman in the picture on the right is Nonna Maria)
Tonight’s fresh ravioli waiting to be cooked at Nonna Maria’s
Some of tonight’s appetizers
Some of tonight’s appetizers
Jim, Anne, and Linda at our dining table
Anne, Linda, Nonna Maria, and Dave at dinner
Linguine with mushrooms and tartufa (truffles)
Primo Piatto – Ravioli stuffed with ricotta and radicchio served with pancetta and nocciola (hazelnuts)
A plate of ravioli and linquini
Secondo Piatto – Rabbit and pork
Secondo Piatto – Pumpkin, lakfkladklsklad
Dessert – Tiramisu
Simple table decoration of tea candle on top of wine corks glued together

We were all exhausted and overfed from dinner, so it was time to head to bed.

Street near where we are staying
Street/alley where we are staying

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.

Morning view from living room windows
View through bedroom windows
Rising sun from bedroom window
View from bedroom window
Morning view from ‘piazza’ outside our house
Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta – Ripabottoni
Neighborhood area
Old door on one of the homes in the area we are staying in in Ripabottoni
Cappuccinos and latte at Bar Centrale

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.

View along road to Sant’Elia di Pianisi
View on road to Sant’Elia a Pianisi
Fixer upper on way to Sant’Elia a Pianisi
Chapel along road to Sant’Elia di Pianisi
Street and architecture in Sant’Elia di Pianisi
Architecture in Sant’Elia di Pianisi
Trees and architecture in Sant’Elia di Pianisi
Wind toys in Sant’Elia di Pianisi
Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi
Chapel in Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi
Altar area of Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi
Chapel in Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi
Chapel in Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi
Jim with friar at Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Pianisi
Pipe organ pipes in Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi
Mary and Jesus statue in Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Pianisi
Window and painting above altar in Chiesa di Sant’Elia a Painisi

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.

View on road to Campobasso
Ruins on the road to Campobasso
Dining room at Monticello (Compobasso)
Cavatelli with peas, bacon, and cod in oil, ginger, confit tomato, and lemon zest
Spaghetti with mushroom and truffle
Spaghetti with black garlic, manteca, anchovies, dried tomatoes, mullet bottarga, roasted pepper, toasted bread crumbs, and caper flower
Stuffed guinea fowl

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.

Pasta with red sauce and turkey meatballs with basil
Spaghetti with mushrooms
Rocket salad with tomatoes

We then headed back to the house and began packing up to be ready to leave early in the morning to return to Rome.

On to the other side of the Tiber (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.

View to Trastevere from the other side of the Tiber
Walkway along the Tiber River
Rapids on the Tiber River under the ladkjjkladlk bridge

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.

Theater of Marcellus
Theater of Marcellus

As we continued our walk, we came upon the Senatorial Palace with its piazza of statues.

Senatorial Palace
Statues of Castore and Polluce in front of Senatorial Palace Clock Tower
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
Fountain of the Goddess Roma
We’re not sure, but we think he’s doing something on his phone
Field Trip!

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.

Roof of the Mamertine Prison with the dome of Church of Martyrs Saints Luke and Martina

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.

View to Forum of Augustus and other Roman architecture
Ruins of the Forum of Caesar from 46 BCE
Ruins of the Forum of Caesar from 46 BCE
Roman architecture
Roman architecture
Ruins of Forum of Caeaar

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.

Linda in front of Colosseum
Dave in front of Colosseum
Colosseum from side of Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Arch of Constantine near the Colosseum
This guy used the different lengths of tubes to create different percussion sounds

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.

Ruins of the Forum of Augustus (112 AD)
Sanctuary of Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Alrar and apse of Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Detail of apse in Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Ceiling in Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Pipe organ pipes in Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Bas relief under altar in Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Part of ceiling in Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Ceiling in Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Olives anyone? Outside Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana

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.

New pasta colors
Ready to cook pasta meals … €15, but it does have a wooden spoon
These pasta/pasta spoon options are only €10.50

We walked down a road that had pedestrian entries to houses above us that created a pleasant view of the multiple bridges.

Linda on via del Pilotta with pedestrian bridges between buildings and road
Dave on via del Pilotta with pedestrian bridges between buildings and road

Surprising as this might be, we located a gelato shop along the way to the Trevi Fountain.

Caffe and Coconut / Chocolate Latte and Salted Pistachio

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.

Trevi Fountain … might have been more interesting, if there had been water

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.

Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Altar and apse in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Chapel art in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Chapel art in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola (it’s really not the same picture)
Rotunda in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Nativity scene in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Nativity and Magi in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Nativity and Magiin Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Vendor near nativity scene in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola
Artwork in Cheisa di Sant’Ignazo di Loyola

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.

Still crowded on a Monday
Linda in front of the Pantheon … the line was too long for us to decide to go in

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.

Selfie in the Jewish Ghetto
Jewish Ghetto

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. 😕

One spicy margarita and one lime margarita
Tacos de Cochinta Pibil, Tacos de Pescado, and guacamole

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.

Two Aperol Spritz and aperitivo at Bar Santa Maria

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

Trastevere (our slice of 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
Two different types of croissant and two doppio cappuccinos (doppio is a double shot of espresso). No, while the glass says Jack Daniels, there are no alcoholic beverages involved here.
Boisterous Italian gentlement 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.

Sainta Cecilia in Trastevere Church
Wedding at Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
Wedding at Santa Cecelia in Trastevere church
Santa Cecelia in Trastevere Church courtyard from church steps

At Santa Maria’s (looking forward to photos because the two previous times we’d peeked in, Mass was going on), a Baptism!

Santa Maria in Trastevere piazza, fountain, and church
Mosaics and statues above entance to Santa Maria in Trastevere Church (not the palm tree mosaics on the bottom)
Dave and Linda in front of Santa Maria in Trastevere Church
Baptism at Santa Maria in Trastevere Church
Mosaics behind altar at Santa Maria in Trastevere Church
Altar and apse in Santa Maria in Trastevere
Mosaic of Jesus with Mary in heaven in Santa Maria in Trastevere Church
Apse in Santa Maria in Trastevere moasic with Jesus in heaven with his mother, Mary, and the first to popes on each side of them. The lambs below reprensent Jesus (lambe with halo in the center) and the twelve disciples.
Mosaics in Santa Maria in Trastevere Churchs
Mosaics at the reatr of Santa Maria in Trastevere Church
Moasic floor in Santa Maria in Trastevere Church

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.

Suppli and Cacio e pepe Arancini

Bonnie and Tom’s craft beer bar on the way home – Dupont Saison for Linda and Wild Ale Sour for Dave.

Beer taps at Ma Che Siete Venuti Ma Fa( (thanks, Bonnie and Tom)

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.

Two glasses of house wine
Outside seating at Tonnarello’s
Outside seeting at Tonnarelle’s
A little violin music for dinner
Tonnarello Cacio e Pepe
Tonnarello Carbonara

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.

Altar and apse in Cheisa della Santa Maria
Ceiling in Cheisa della Santa Maria
Statue of Mary and Jesus in Chiesa della Santa Maria
Stained glass window in Cheisa della Santa Maria

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::

Rock Band

Rock Band – audience participation

If you would like to see pictures in greater detail, you can click here: 2022-09-18 Trastevere


Thinking about our stroll last night, the thing that stands out is how happy everyone is: couples kissing on the corner (more like necking actually), friends having a vape or a gelato while sitting on one of the bridge walls, moms holding the baby while dads carry the stroller up the stone steps, couples holding hands while window shopping. We have seen that in many places where you would expect big crowds, the lines are not so long and it is not wall-to-wall people. The benefit of September.

We started the day with coffee then headed out on our first planned walk. We have walked 10,000 to 18,000 steps a day but break it up a few times which helps Linda’s low back and Dave’s feet. We cross the energetic Ponte Vecchio bridge several times a day and there is so much to see we hardly think about what hurts!

Tower at Pointe Vecchio Bridge
Entering the Pointe Vecchio Bridge from the Oltrarno

We .walked though the city from the Oltrarno to the Mercato Centrale. Along the way we visited from the outside Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Cathedral (including the Baptistery and Dome). The enormity of the cathedral is breathtaking.

Street vendor near Palazzo Vecchio
Carriage ride in front of Palazzo Vecchio
Reproduction of the Statue of David outside the Palazzo Vecchio (sorry about the fake, but we’ve already seen the real one and don’t feel like fighting the crowd)
Hercules and Cacus
Loggia dei Lanzi
David and Hercules & Cacua in front of Palazzo Vecchio
Donatello’s statue Judith and Holofernes
Fountain of Neptune
Palazzo Vecchio
Lorenzo Ghiberti’s St. John the Baptist at Or San Michele
Florence Cathedral
Giotto’s Bell Tower at Florence Cathedral
As we approach this part of the Florence Cathedral, we understood why the scaffolding around the cathedral existed. Cleaning the walls must be an ongoing effort.
Baptistery of San Giovanni
Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral
Detailed view of above the doors of the cathedral
Florence Cathedral

In the Mercado Centrale (large indoor city market), we took tons of photos and then took Matt & Carlee’s suggestion for a roast beef sandwich at Nerbone which did not disappoint! We have found the prices here very reasonable whether for dining or grocery or treasures…makes Linda wish she’d brought an extra suitcase. Dave, on the other hand…  😉 

Cutting bread for plates at Nerbone
Making our roast beef panino
Roast beef panino from Nerbone
Roast beef panino
Walking though the Mercato Centrale
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – cheese
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – cheese and meats
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – fresh produce
An amazing dry pasta selection
Very colorful pastas
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – guinea fowl
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – stuffed guinea fowl
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – salted cod
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – fresh produce
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – olives (we got 100gr of the green olives)
Our big olive transaction
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – various seafood (shrimps, octopus, and perch
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – fresh produce
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – butcher shop (check out the Bistecca Steaks in the top right)

On our 20-minute walk back to the apartment, Linda suggested gelato (Dave says this is a recurring theme) – in that 20 minute walk, we must have passed a dozen gelaterias. Linda chose pineapple and coconut; Dave had caramel and Oreo creme. Upon returning to the apartment, the elevator was being worked on – the man said 5 minutes – so we walked back out to the street rather than walk the 5 flights! It was a smart decision because the man was true to his word. Just so you know, we’ve counted the steps going down and there ninety-five of them. Walking up would not have been fun.

When our afternoon break ended, we started back out to explore the city.

Our first stop this evening was Basilica di Santa Trinita. This is a beautiful church with twenty separate chapels (though Linda only counted eighteen).

On top of the Column of Justice
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Altar and side altar in Santa Trinita
Altar in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Stanta Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Ceiling in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Fresco at Santa Trinita that is deteriorating
Chapel in Santa Trinita

After some time at Santa Trinita, we headed back to the Oltrarno.

Buildings in the Oltrarno
View into central Florence from the Oltroarno
View into central Florence from the Oltroarno

Here, our first stop was at Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine. This is a huge church from the outside, but has nothing special from a “wow factor” on the outside. The inside, however, very nice. There was a worship service going on, so we stayed in the back of the sanctuary to take pictures.

Sanctuary of Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine
Altar in Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine

From there we continued to Bascilica di Santo Spirito. We have just the one picture as they were closing up and the woman in charge of closing made it very clear that we were to get out. Maybe Dave can get back there tomorrow or Wednesday morning.

Santo Spirito

From there we made our way to Pitti Palace and took in the size of the building. The palace was built in 1458 and was purchased by the Medici family in 1549. It also housed Napoleon. It currently houses multiple museums.

Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace

We then stopped for dinner at a restaurant near our apartment. The food was fine, but we were once again disappointed that spaghetti pomodoro was cooked tomatoes, not fresh tomatoes. Linda had a new drink for us, a Hugo Spritz. It is made from elderflower liqueur, instead of Aperol.

Aperol Spritz and Hugo Spritz
Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Pomodoro

We then went back to the apartment to drop off a couple of tops Linda bought and then turned around to go have a cocktail at a place we passed early in our journey. The drinks did not disappoint. Linda had a drink called the Jungle Bird; while Dave had a Last Word. Both were excellent.

Jungle Bird and Last Word

It was time to head home and get to bed.