A Travellerspoint blog

August 2021

Italy, Day 6, The Walking Begins

Civitella del Lago to Baschi

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Our day began in Orvieto, with breakfast at the Duomo Hotel. Our local helper, George, came along to pick us up and drive us the thirty minutes to the "trailhead" for the day in Civitella del Lago, located on a hill just above Lake Corbara. Today, we followed the Cammino dei Borghi Silenti (CBS) Trail, marked with a yellow arrow.

With George's help, we found a place to pick up lunch supplies and then the walk began. We walked about 12.3 km today, mostly downhill first, near lots and lots of olive trees, and then up another hill and then down to Baschi, still with olive trees, but also a vineyard or two as well. Most of the day involved relatively easy and pleasant walking along gravel paths, but there was one section that essentially involved 1.2km straight uphill, mostly in full sunshine and that was less than fun.

In the middle of the day, we stopped at the Barberani Wine Co and enjoyed a little wine tasting. There were a couple of other walkers, whom we had seen on the trail earlier, tasting as well. They were from Milan. When I told them that we were from Maine, they were eager to know if we had ever met Stephen King.

We continued on to Baschi and George was there to pick us up and deliver us to our accommodation for tonight and tomorrow night, the Acquaghiaccia Country House in Morre.

Here are a few photos from today:
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Posted by ReisAdventures 17:33 Archived in Italy Tagged house country del lago walkers acquaghiaccia civitella morre Comments (0)

Italy, Day 5, Orvieto

Separation Day, Orvieto, Plus Last Night's Dinner

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Today, are lovely trio split up and went in two directions. Jenny went to the Castle in Umbertide for her three-week workshop. Deedie and I traveled to Orvieto, where we will begin our walking tour.

I don't have a lot of time, but here are a few highlights.

Let's begin with last night's dinner. We went back to the rooftop restaurant at Hotel 47, this time we tried the meat version of the "Inspiration Menu" (four courses): beef tartare; pasta with a fabulous ragu-type sauce, only lighter; roast beef, with the slices served as little flowers (with gravy, potatoes and yummy other bites); and a dessert that involved some sort of chocolate-like cookie with coconut with yummy other substances. I won't go into all of it. You'll be too jealous. I think I liked the second course the best.

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This morning, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and then packed up and made our goodbyes.

Deedie and I took a cab to the Tiburtina rail station and then the train to Orvieto. We were picked up by a driver sent by the local Country Walkers rep. We got to the hotel, went for lunch and then met our Orvieto guide, Manuela, who showed us around this lovely little town for a couple of hours.

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At the end of the afternoon, Deedie and I visited the Duomo, where the subject of much of the art seems to be focused on scaring people into good behavior by making sure they have plenty of nightmares about demons who stalk the unworthy.
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We ended the day at a lovely restaurant, Trattorio del Moro, arranged by our local Country Walkers rep. We started dinner with an absolutely divine first course that featured an asparagus flan with an egg on top, truffle shavings and a delicious sauce. Deedie then had the house carbonara. I had taggliatelle with a light ragu (with boar's meat?) and more shaved truffles!
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We are now done for the day. A big day of walking awaits!
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Ciao!

Posted by ReisAdventures 19:37 Archived in Italy Tagged hotel country orvieto duomo walkers 47 Comments (0)

Rome, Day 4, Part 1

The Various Ways of the Journey

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Our last full day in Rome started with a little sleeping in. Truth be told, I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, so I allowed myself to sleep until I woke up (no setting of any alarms) and I slept until 9:30.

During our breakfast plotting session, Jenny decided to explore more pizza. Deedie and I decided to go on a little walk, first to the Trevi Fountain and then to the Spanish Steps, with a little Superman detour.
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Then the plan involved converging at the Borghese Gallery at 12:45, as we had tickets to enter the gallery at 1:00.

I'll begin with this bit of advice, for anyone reading this and thinking about or planning a trip to Rome. Don't walk to the Borghese Gallery without a detailed map! My map and Deedie's map didn't include the Borghese Gallery itself. The maps indicate the enormous green/park area that is home to the Borghese Villa, Gardens and Gallery, with a little arrow that points in the direction of where the Gallery is located in the enormous green/park area. We expected to find signage when we arrived at the edge of the park.

We were so, so wrong.

Luckily, we arrived at the park more than an hour before we needed to be at the Gallery, so we had some time to scout things out.

The maps located in the area were completely useless:
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The signage was also less than helpful.

And, when Deedie asked a couple of security guards, they didn't know what she was talking about. Deedie tried sparking up her phone, but that didn't help much either. Eventually, though, we found our way. But, I think we may have walked about three extra miles.
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The Borghese itself is a lovely museum and offers some great art to consider and explore, including some fabulous Bernini sculptures, a Bellini painting and other impressive pieces in a beautiful space.
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The Gallery is also currently showing a Damian Hirst exhibit, whose sculptures are placed throughout the Gallery. I wasn't a big fan.
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But, the exhibit did include Hirst's version of a turtle:
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And, there were dots:
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After the Gallery, we walked until we found an open cafe, where we had biscotti and beverages to revive us.
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Then, we went to check out a certain Bernini sculpture at Chiesa Santa Maria della Vittoria, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. The sculpture was highly recommended by Jenny and Deedie's cousin, MJ, and Jenny's former NYT colleague, Frank B.

She wasn't there.

Or, to be accurate, she was there, but under renovation so we couldn't see her.
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Alas. But, at least there was this really helpful photo:
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Posted by ReisAdventures 15:53 Archived in Italy Tagged fountain gallery the of spanish steps saint theresa trevi borghese ecstasy Comments (0)

Rome, Day 3, Part 2

Trastevere, Plus the Lists

After a nice, long afternoon rest, we met up in the hotel lobby to begin our evening adventure. Our focus for the evening was the Trastevere neighborhood, just across the river from our hotel.
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Our first stop in Trastevere was the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
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The church has great mosaics, including one with Mary and Jesus together, as if they are both in charge of things.
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Then, we wandered off to our restaurant for the evening, a lovely place near the edge of Trastevere. I had the seafood risotto. After dinner we shared a delicious cheese plate (see below) and some limoncello.
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During dinner, we worked on our lists of the day-- The Good, The Scroll of Disappointments, The Questions and Other

The Good
1. The Sunrise! And the quiet of early morning in Rome.
2. The assembling of the tour group was interesting and fun, as we introduced ourselves to each other and figured out where everyone was from and why they were in Rome.
3. Getting whisked into the Vatican Museums in a matter of minutes!
4. The Pinecone
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5. The Pancakes.
6. No crowds
7. The Hall of Maps
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8. The School of Athens
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9. The Circular Staircase (for Jenny and Deedie)
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10. Jenny really liked the Sistine Chapel, with its intimacy and sense of connection, made even better by the relatively low number of people who were sharing the experience.

11. The Cheese Course!
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The Scroll of Disappointments
1. The Missing Belvedere Apollo (under restoration)
2. Why are we not talking about The Slaughter of the Innocents (see Vatican Museums post)?
3. The Circular staircase (Susan)
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4. We moved too quickly through the modern art in the apartments.

5. The Sistine Chapel (Susan)-- too male-dominated, in all sorts of ways
6. Size comparisons, cathedral style. In the center of St. Peter's, on the floor, there's a set of markings that show the lengths of other large cathedrals from around the world. This display is meant to emphasize that St. Peter's is the largest of all. Um, do I need to say more about this?
7. The restaurant where we had dinner had no sweet vermouth for Jenny's Negroni marathon.

The Questions
1. How could the most annoying couple in our Vatican tour group be from Canada?
2. Why did the tour people emphasize how great it was to "surprise" us with breakfast? We wish we had known. We wouldn't have wolfed down a few items we got from the hotel before we left.
3. What's up with MIchelangelo's approach to the male form?
4. Shouldn't the Vatican have some sort of recognition of the sex abuse of children?
5. Where are the Roman cocktails?
6. When is a joke not so much a joke, but really a gag?

Other
Keep a Safety Distance!
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And, watch out for "Sexy Knees." Our Vatican tour guide examined all of the men on the tour who were wearing shorts, to determine if they would not be allowed into St. Peter's because of the exposure of their "sexy knees." On the one hand, this seemed weird. On the other hand, I was glad that the examination of the clothing wasn't completely focused on the women, as it usually is.

Ciao for now!

Posted by ReisAdventures 15:47 Archived in Italy Tagged museums st. in basilica santa rome vatican trastevere di maria peter's Comments (0)

Rome, Day 3, Part 1

The Vatican and More of the Vatican

Our day began while it was not quite light out, with a tour of The Vatican (museums and St. Peter's) with a small group tour. Meeting time: 7:00am. The three of us met up in the hotel lobby to catch a cab. Our cab ride involved Jenny telling us about a strange dream she had that featured the Pope, Bill Clinton and Caitlyn Jenner. Yikes.

The group gathered and then two guides arrived and split us into two smaller groups and off to the Vatican entrance! We ended up in the group with the tour guide who carried a bunny tote bag:
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Our first stop involved tickets and getting hooked up with listening devices so the tour guide wouldn't have to yell at us the whole time. What a treat it was to enter the Museums before the crowds!
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And then the next treat: colazione (breakfast)
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The tour began by spending time with panels of the paintings from the Sistine Chapel set up outdoors, since talking is not allowed in the Chapel and the tour guide wanted to offer some background and information on the art in one of the most famous Chapels in the world. I'll admit that I wasn't all that impressed with her introduction, lining up biblical story with Michelangelo's representations. For example, she pointed to the famous creation of man section and then mimicked the old and sorry refrain of what happened after that-- the woman was created and then creation went right downhill. I decided to refrain from pointing out that in that particular creation story (there are two), God creates in ascending order of significance, and that means with the woman as last, the woman is at the height of God's creation. It didn't seem like the tour guide was interested in alternative points of view. Our job was to nod our heads and look amazed. When she finally asked a question, I had my big chance to get the gold star of the morning. Where's Michelangelo's self portrait? In the dangling, flayed skin of St. Bartholomew.

Then we began our tour of the museum, learning about popes, art, and lasagna (Rome is a city made of layers-- get it?). We continued to enjoy the relative low numbers of people in the museum, and the art itself.
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One troubling component in the first part of the tour was the visit to the hall of tapestries, where three separate tapestries took up the subject of the Slaughter of the Innocents. It seemed excessive to spend so much time and energy on such a grim and horrifying story.
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Then, there was lots more glorious art.
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And, finally the Sistine Chapel, where the taking of photos is strictly prohibited. Sorry.

After the Chapel, we exited the Museums and walked around to the front of St. Peter's. We went through security and into the church. Again, it was remarkable to be in St Peter's with what was not a very large crowd. When the family and I visited in 2008, at the end of October, it was hard to move in the church because it was so full.
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Just before noon, the tour came to an end. We thanked our guide, Ute, and Jenny, Deedie and I made our way to the line for the Dome, buying tickets to take the lift to the first level (to the roof of the Basilica). And, in a fit of insanity, we continued on and took the steps to the top of the dome, where it was raining! Still, it's quite the view.
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Luckily, the rain didn't last long. We headed back down to the roof level and I treated myself to an Italian ice cream sandwich.
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Exhausted and drained, we made our way to the outside and finally to a taxi stand. Back to the hotel-- for naps, showers and blogging!
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Posted by ReisAdventures 14:07 Archived in Italy Tagged museums vatican Comments (0)

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