Monthly Archives: June 2017

A Quiet Day

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Rain this morning.  Much-needed.  So we thought we would just wait it out in our Civita B&B over coffee and rolls, the typical Italian breakfast.  We returned to our bedroom and watched the rain pelt down from our window.  And sure enough, by about 10:30 am there was a break in the heavenly action and the sky seemed to clear.

We visited the church of San Donato, right on the piazza.


Yesterday we noticed that the church clock tower was held together by large rubber bands, which vibrated when the wind blew!Sorta like a big Jenga  box!


Oh, news flash, Don just told me he snapped two photos when he was up during the night.  What the heck are you doing taking photos at 3 am!!??



Before leaving town I was drawn to a new l’erbosteria and found some delightful products made from donkey’s milk and olive oil!


So with the rain stopped we made our way down the steep incline with Don continuing to remind me, “No twisted ankles.”  OK, OK, OK!!!

Off to Viterbo to find some lunch and oh, I was so happy when we pulled in to town and saw this happy sight!


The Porchetta Truck!!   My mouth was watering just imagining the juicy goodness of a porchetta sandwich.  Alas,  he only had a tiny end left, not even enough for a decent roll.  Boh!!

So back into the car to drive into a bold faced city filled with the traffic we had avoided to this point.  Our object now was to park, eat, and get out.  And yes, we did.


When Don went in to pay the bill and pee, he seemed to be taking a very long time.  Experience told me there must be a story, whether it was about an unexpected toilet saga, or some other reason.  When he came out smiling and holding something behind his back, I knew he was up to no good.


Oh yeah. . .we need another Coke tray at our house!!  But OK, this one is Italian and there’s a good story and it was FREE.  Count on some crazy American to take your old junk off your hands!

(Sigh)

On our way out of town we pulled over to photo this surprising piece of sculpture, which Wikipedia tells us is by Seward Johnson and called “The Awakening.”


Upon doing a bit more research, I learned that Seward Johnson founded the Gardens for Sculpture in New Jersey which I’ve visited and is fabulous.   Love these unexpected surprises!

So now on to Bomarzo where tomorrow we will visit the Garden of Monsters, which I saw on Atlas Obscura and thought, “Hey, we’ll sort of be in the area, so why not make a bit of a detour to visit.”  For the next two nights we are staying at an Air BnB Country House which is literally right beside the Monster Garden.  It sleeps 6, so if you’re in the area, cmon over!!



My rating–9.5. (If there would be snacks in the frig I’d call it a 10!)

Cost–$100/night

We are off on a country road and no one would EVER believe that there is a house here.  

This is our spot to unpack our bags and re-pack for the journey home.


I just said to Don that it feels like we didn’t do much today, but then I read this blog and I guess “doing” is all in the definition.

June 29, 1967

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Fifty years ago today I was a college freshman at Millersville State College, now Millersville University.  I had been there about 2 weeks, having graduated from Lebanon High School and started college immediately.  As I was eating dinner with some new-found friends, a guy came over to the table and told me there was someone who wanted to meet me.  Naive that i was, I went with him, and he introduced me to his friend, Don Weinberger who was in summer school because he had failed two courses.

Nine months later we started dating.

Eleven years  later we gave birth to Ben on this very date.

And a Facebook post by our Catherine today revealed that on June 29, 2005,  38 years after Don and I met, Catherine and Martin met.  On the same date.  It’s times like these that I tend to believe in a Higher Power!

Fifty years later we are celebrating the date with 1) a special lunch right on the edge of Lake Bolsena 

The day was breezy and cool, finally! We chose to eat “fuori” outside despite the wind. The owner said that Italians, Germans, English, and French don’t like to eat when it’s windy, so they were all inside. Wonder what that says about Americans??!!

The three fish dishes we ate from this lake were beyond amazing. We asked the waiter for recommendations, and wow, did we ever get the BEST dishes!! BTW, this was all in Italian, just in case you were wondering!


and a 2) night at Civita di Bagnoregio, a magical place we visited some years ago and never thought we’d have the opportunity to spend the night.


Best part is. . .I kept it all a secret from Don and only told him about our night at Civita at lunch today!   Give me carte blanche to plan a trip and you never know what. might. happen!

Yes, we ignored the ZTL roads, parked under the bridge as instructed by my new best friend Franco who owns the Civita B&B, pulled our one suitcases up the bridge.  Steeep?  A..yeahhhh!!  Somehow we didn’t remember it being this steep three years. ago!


But up we went and finally reached our B&B–put on the map probably by Rick Steves.  The B&B itself has only 3 rooms and a taverna where we noticed one whole wall dedicated to photos of Franco, the owner, and Rick. Sometimes I don’t know if you should bless or curse Rick Steves!  In fact, folks in Maremma is hoping he does NOT discover their hidden treasures.

The room is tiny and features the seriously most tiny shower we have ever seen.  The bed is comfy, as evidenced by our daily nap which found us each sleeping peacefully!


The view from our room. . .and who else but Giuseppe Garibaldi in the piazza!  That guy gets around!


Cost of the room–$85 per night.  With breakfast.  

Civita di Bagnoregio is like no other village.  Built by the Etruscans centuries ago, they chose a good place where they could see invaders for miles around but they failed to take into account that the tufa is soft and eventually nature would take its course.  Chunks of houses and roads around the perimeter have fallen away over the centuries.  

There are about 10-12 full time residents, some eateries, gift shops, a few artists, but what I like best is its ethereal vibe.  At times during the year it is shrouded in mist.  I’m hoping to find a snow photo tomorrow.  I vaguely remember one from a previous visit.

On our passiegata (walk) around town tonight we discovered more than a few interesting vistas looking out over the surrounding valleys.These four were snapped by Don.




A few hidden gardens revealed some gems. . . 



I discovered a path that took you down, down, down with the tufa rock rising up, up, up beside you.  A little spooky, actually!


There’s more to Civita di Bagnoregio but internet traffic is very slow tonight, so I will end for now.  

Actually, who would ever even expect to have internet on top of an ancient Etruscan tufa rock town with only a dozen residents!!?

Porto Santo Stefano

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And then it happened. . .it took us by surprise. . . .it was RAIN!!!


We were grateful and hoped that it would bring some relief from the heat.  But we also wondered,”What will we do on a rainy day in the ONLY port town we’re visiting?”

We didn’t have to wait long to realize the rain was short-lived, it didn’t change the heat, and it brought more humidity.

Porto Santo Stefano sits on a promontory connected to the mainland by two roads.  It’s an absolutely stunning port, known for excellent seafood and its old Spanish fort (which, by the way, we found was only open on weekends).  


Keep in mind that we are still in Tuscany!!  

We knew this AirBnB was on a third floor, so we re-packed our stuff into the smaller suitcase, thinking we’d have to haul it up three flights of stairs.  Surprise. . .we had an elevator!  Our hostess, Sonia, was waiting outside for us and we parked right in front of our apartment.


My rating–9/10–fantastic view, rock-hard bed, AC works well

Cost–$85/night

Now sitting at the top of the cliff means only one thing:  when we walk down into town, we’ve got to walk UP.  But off we went, in search of food.  We quickly realized that today is WEDNESDAY, and in this town, that’s the day that restaurants and shops are closed.  Just our luck!!

But we happened upon Osteria di Pace, right on the water, with a table available outside for lunch.  Score!!!


We can uphold the reputation of wonderful cuisine and fabulous seafood.  After two dishes which we shared, we were filled with all sorts of sea creatures which had given up their lives for our eating enjoyment!  

Strolling along the wharf we enjoyed looking at some of the beautiful yachts of the rich and famous. . .or rich and not-so-famous, just rich.


We couldn’t avoid our fate any longer.  We knew we had to make the climb home.  Now hilltowns are a challenge, but literally climbing up this cliff nearly did us in!!  With hearts pounding, sweat dripping, and legs shaking, we made our way into our apt. 

I promptly fell asleep for the next 3 hours!

Final night in Campiglia Marittima

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Does it seem like all we do is EAT??!!  Sometimes we feel like that, too, and we must admit to planning some of our activities around food schedules here in Italy.  We happened upon a sweet restaurant last night which was full, so we made a reservation for our final night.


The food was beautiful, with sexy black lace decorations, and indescribably delicious.  We sat outside, of course, on yet another cool evening.  

On our final walk in the town we found even more sweet plants and flowers.  I love the look of succulents against the stone walls. The hedges of oleander reminded us of the hedges of agapanthus in New Zealand.


Tomorrow we begin our slow journey back to FCO.  First stop will be Porto Santo Stefano.  I tried to plan this trip so that we would get a feel for as many different types of Tuscan villages as possible.  

So far, so good.

Sweet Suvereto

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DId you ever have one of those experiences where you can SEE a place, you know it’s close , and you can’t get there!?  So it was with San Giovanni, the church we could see from our window.  

We had the name confused and even found ourselves on a ZTL . . . Big no-no Zona Traffico Limited road–so who knows if we will find a fine in our mailbox in a few months!!  Anyhow, after driving around and around, me asking a woman in a nearby cemetery, we found it.

It’s an unusual church in that it is totally surrounded by graves.  All the flat parts are crypts. 

The church was built in 1173. Above one portal is a stone carving scene referring to Etruscan and Roman traditions of boar hunting.  


Seems like this whole area is filled with departed families, as there are the typical type graves adjacent to the church, as well as mausoleums.  I peeked in a few which were ornate and kept with flowers.  When they say “perpetual care” in Italy, they mean it.


So after a sufficient amount of time reading grave markers, the church, and environs, we set off to Suvereto.  Our objective here was simple:  explore yet another Medieval town, sit in the piazza, have lunch.

We can check off all three.  


We climbed to the rocca and explored the ancient stones.  We were surprised when we came around one corner and discovered a handicapped accessible lift!  I’m not sure I would trust to. use it, but it must have been put there for some good reason.

 

We found ourselves in the piazza drinking coffee and watching Life, including a flag flapping in the breeze.


Later in the day we discovered another political party in town, although the office looked desolate.


Lunch was probably at the best place in town. Seriously delicious.


And so, we accomplished another slow travel day in this part of Maremma.  We came home, climbed the hills to our apartment, put on the AC, fell asleep.  

Oh, yes. . .enroute home I saw a sight for which I have no photo.  White Chianina cattle in a field were feasting on a wagon load of cantaloupes!  Is that why their meet is so sweet and tender?

Just another Italian mystery!

Italy’s Caribbean 

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The beaches of the Gulf of Follonica are among the most beautiful and visited in Italy by holiday-makers.  The water is blue, clear, and delightful.  It was just a 30 minute drive from Campiglia Marittima to find ourselves on the beach, under an umbrella.


We were in or near a beach called Torre Mozza, and we didn’t realize it at the time,but we must have happened onto an area that was owned by a resort which was right across the road.Most umbrellas were part of the rental for families who were staying at the resort, but the guy in charge found us TWO umbrellas not reserved and charged us for only one.  20 Euros, free parking, better than the other day.

It was the perfect place to be with our lunch snacks that we had procured at the local Conad supermarket.  We ate,snoozed, read, people-watched, and played in the water.  The perfect beach day!


Don decided it was time to look Italian, so he bargained with one of the many Somalian vendors on the beach for a hat.  And somehow we each got leather bracelets, too.  


Now we must do something about replacing those crotch-rocket sunglasses!  But he DOES look Italian!

Enroute home we stopped by Baratti, just to check out their beach.  It’s in a beautiful park area, beach is totally free, but you’d need your own umbrella and chairs.  I also noticed the sand was sparkling with little bits of quartz(?) and seemed hotter than “our” beach.


We made the best choice for us for today.

Came home and fell into another DEEP SLEEP NAP!  

Facciamo un pisolino!

Campiglia Marittima

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So our home for the next 3 days is just about 45 minutes away from Massa Marittima.  This is our SLOW TRAVEL trip of exploring and enjoying tiny villages, not on any tourist destination.  We are more likely to see farm machinery than tourist buses, of which we have seen none!  Actually, the roads and hairpin turns simply would not be able to accommodate anything larger than a van.

Along the way we stopped at La Novella for a bite to eat.  Once again, I had read about it in the Maremma Guide, and this was our second trip here: once to investigate, and now to eat.  Sunday brought out lots of families sharing huge platters of meats and cheeses.  For me, the melon (called “popone” in Maremma) and prosciutto was just right.

I’m curious about her inscription of “Perché no” which in Italian means, “Why not?” She was standing outside the shop, so perhaps it’s “Why not. . .stop here/eat here/shop here.” Chissà–who knows!?

Yes, Telma, these IS a plastic cup with wine. I will admit to being shocked. But the wine was good!


Upon reaching Campiglia Marittima we were faced with the dilemma we always face when arriving in a new town.  1)Parking. . .2) finding our Air BnB contact, 3) getting suitcases TO the apartment FROM the car.  And remember, these are HILL TOWNS!!

(More in a future blog about the insights reached regarding these dilemmas.)

We found Chiara, our Air BnB owner, at her delightful gelato stand at the arranged time.  I’ve truly never tasted such wonderful concoctions. . .peach tea for me and yogurt honey for Don.


Then began the trek to find the car, retrieve the luggage, and get to the apartment. 

When I say this is a hill town, I’m not exaggerating.  It rivals the best of them with steep climbs.  


We were hot, tired, sweat pouring off of us, AND all of this with Chiara carrying the heaviest bag!!  Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so we laughed!  And we had no idea how we’d ever find our way back.  Breadcrumbs??  But there WAS a rose bush which left petals right up to our doorway!


Finally, we were IN!  The apartment is charming!

Don is THRILLED to have a remote to click on the AC!! The cupboard on the right hides a sweet small kitchen unit, fridge, two-burner stove.


This little place has become our afternoon haven from the heat and sun.  We arrive “home,” click on the AC, close the shutters, take a shower, and settle ourselves down for 1) an afternoon nap, 2) a glass of wine, 3)blog-writing or all three.

So. . . Air BnB–my rating 9.5/10

Cost–about $100/night

Our new town is filled with medieval nooks, crannies, and arches, and you never know what unexpected surprise awaits around each corner.  It’s delightful!


We have become Italian. We hang out our clothes, undies included, on the line outside our apartment. We have no shame!



Since I am actually writing this blog on our third day here (I’ll catch up with our other two days soon) I’ll close with two shots of the town clock, which we see from the small piazza where we go for aperitivi and then dinner.  


8 pm is about when we eat dinner, after enjoying an Aperol spritz and snacks at one of the two bars in town.


And then we finish around 10.  Swallows screech and circle overhead, the air has finally become fresh and cool.  We head up, up the hills, find our home, and drop into deep sleep. 

Buona notte!