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100+ Posts
By Wendy & Rob from California, US, Fall 2003
From Rome to Lucca to Strove back to Rome. Wonderful days spent in Italy, drinking in the country, people and of course the food, wine and grappa. This was thirteen wonderful days from October 10th to October 23rd, 2003. From there we boarded Holland America's ship Noordam in Civitavecchia. But, that will be another report.

This trip report was originally posted on SlowTrav.

Rome, Saturday Oct.11th, 2003

We had a very early flight out of SFO at 7:20am into JFK, which meant we left our house at 3:20am, since we live a two hour drive away. But at least at that hour there wasn't any traffic! We arrived into Fuimincino at 8:20am to perfect weather.

We picked up our car at the Avis desk without any hitches, and the gentleman at the desk was most helpful. We were going to keep the car from that Saturday til the following Sunday evening. Planning on driving up to Lucca on the next day and then deeper into Tuscany, and when we return to Rome the following Saturday, keeping the car so we could drive out to Ostia Antica for the day and returning the car after our adventures.

Our drive was so easy into Rome. It was Saturday! We must remember to try to arrive or depart on the weekend from now on!

Our room, 527, at the Excelsior was ready just shy of noon. We napped and left by 2. Our first meal was at Ciampini, above the steps (Piazza di Spagna). We've been wanting to try this place for several years now. It was very lovely.

We shared:
penette w/ chili sauce (mild) mezza litre of vino rosso di casa
for our secondi: Wendy-pollo w/ pink grapefruit sauce Rob-Veal grilled w/ lemon wedge
We each had espresso and grappa
What a nice way to start our trip.

While we were eating on the patio overlooking the steps area there were little chirpee birds bathing in the fountain. Very entertaining.

After lunch, we walked around and searched out Via Margutta. Gourmet magazine had written about it in their March 2003 Rome issue. They had written that 'it is one of the loveliest streets in Rome'. They were right. Absolutely beautiful, vines run up the buildings and across the street. There are many stores along this lane, three carpet shops, at the far end (away from the steps) there was a Vegetarian restaurant that looked quite nice. (I have the card somewhere if anyone is interested.)

We found a store at the Piazza di Spagna end of V. Margutta that sells photos of the early days of Rome, Florence, Venice ... Show room Alinari, Via Albert,16a/b (angolo Via del Babuino, davanti a Via Margutta). We will return and purchase a few images when we come back to Rome in a week and pick up a few of the books. One for Rob's Dad on Abruzzi, which is where his family is from and one for a friend on Emilia-Romagna where both of her parents are from. And of course the one of Rome for us. I can't recommend this store more.

When we left it was time to return to the hotel and we tried something new. There is a tunnel that starts just left of the Spanish steps and runs up to the Via Veneto, you can pick up the metro here also. It didn't seem to be a lot faster than our normal route, but it was easier and we were less sweaty when we made it back to the Excelsior. And we found a supermarket at the V. Veneto end. Good to know about that.

For Dinner we returned to: Vladimio-Ristorante Marcello. We had eaten there last year. It is 2 blocks from the Excelsior. What an eating orgy.
We started with a bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba €16.
We had antipasti misti- eggplant, zuccini w/ chili flakes, potatoes w/ rocket,peppers and the best of all: small (cipolline) onions in olive oil& bay leaves w/ sugar. Very yummy.
For our primi we shared taglitilini in lemon sauce
For our secondi: Wendy-Veal w/ sage sauce Rob-Veal w/ artichokes
Espressi e grappa
Total bill € 70 plus € 10 tip.

(You will notice a pattern with us on the following pages, we love to finish our meals with espresso and grappa.)

We were stuffed. Off to Harry's to see our friend Rino. We had been spotted by his brother when we emerged from the tunnel, earlier, which ends in front of Harry's Bar.

Tomorrow we will be off to Lucca.
Lucca, in Tuscany

Up by 8 something.

We tried a new place up and around the corner from the hotel for a quick cap and cornetto: Caffe Pasticceria Lotti Paola & Luigina Snc via Sardegna 19-21 (next door to Lori optical).

Why have we been going to the place on the Veneto? These people were so nice! Rob had read about the place in 'Caffe Italiana', the book on Caffe and ice cream places in Roma. We had:
2 Spremuta di Anancia-orange juice
2 cappucino
Wendy - cream filled cornetto
Rob - chocolate cornetto
€9.40 that include 2 extra pastries for the road.

Off we go to Lucca! We left Rome by 10:20 and straight up the coast we went. We arrived in the Lucca area about 3, but got lost and didn't check into the Villa Pricipessa till 4pm. Our memory did not serve us well from 2 years ago when we stayed there and we made all sorts of wrong turns. Oh well, no problem. That is part of traveling.

We didn't get the Red room 125 that we had reserved, but were upgraded to the suite next door 126. This is a lovely place with its own parks and gardens. We had our own loggia, which I used to keep up on my first ever travel journal. The living room and sitting rooms down stairs are beautifully appointed, with the bar set up in the sitting room. White sofas, green walls and blue carpets, very striking.

We went into the walled town of Lucca for a few hours. The town was rather crowded for mid-October. But we hadn't had any trouble parking outside the walls. We returned back to the Principessa around 6:45.

We had dinner reservations at 'La Cecca Ristorante' which is outside the walls about 1.5 Km from our hotel. Very lovely, bright and busy. Parking lot was full. Always a good sign.

We started with a bottle of the house red. Not very good, very light. We were dining with two others and I picked the second bottle of wine - Vino Noblile di Montepulciano. Very good.
primi Rob and I both started with Taglitelle w/ herbs & tomatoes, very light. Jack started with Spaghetti w/ muscles
Secondi Wendy - Tagliata, sliced steak covered w/ rocket(arugula) & parmesean shavings Rob - Veal pocket, veal folded around prosciutto, cheese & artichokes. He liked it!
caffe e grappa for desert.

Day two in Lucca

Met Jack and his friend for breakfast. They left for Rome and we went back to Lucca.

We walked around and checked out some of the different churches. We stopped inside the Piazza Dell Anfiteatro. The lighting was great for some photos (we shot over 3300 images in 23 days, and have kept around 2800 on our hard drive).

We had a pannino and coke and glass of wine at Bar Gelateria-Euchignani. Total €19.

We walked only a small portion of the wall, but highly recommend if you have time to do the whole thing. The trees were just starting to change colors and the dappled lighting was so appealing. We were off to Carrara so didn't have enough time to do more than we did.

40 minutes away we reached Carrara, what a site! The mountain looks as if it had gone through a blizzard, but it was the marble. We couldn't get all the way up the posted route and were sent a different way, but we made it. There are some overlooks that you can walk to and see down into the valley. Our car, an Opel, was covered with a fine white dusting of marble as were our shoes! We totally enjoyed ourselves. And we recommend a trip there just to see this amazing sight. An easy 1/2 day trip.

Dinner in Lucca - 'Trattoria da Leo dei Filli Boralli Via Tegrimi 1
We didn't have reservations so had to wait. We were seated by 9:15. We sat outside, lovely evening. This restaurant was hopping inside and out.
We ordered-
primi- Wendy - Tortellini in brodo-so light a just the perfect starter.
Rob - Tagliatelle con salsice e cavelo(cauliflower)
secondi- Wendy - Vitello arosto con potate arrosto-okay
Rob - Fettina di vitello alla griglia-very good He had a side of roasted potatoes.
We had mezza litre of vino rosso casa
espressi e vin santo & biscotti
On to Strove/Monteriggioni

Up early, we were anxious to move on. It had been a great stay and what a wonderful place ... but ...

Packed first then down for breakfast, banana yogurt (love the yogurt in Europe, especially banana), egg dish, croissant, salumi, capuccino and o.j.

10:10 off we go. We were planning on stopping in Montecatini Terme, but Silvia at V. Princepessa said there really wasn't anything ancient to see unless we went up to M. Catini Alto, so we opted to skip it.

So off to Badia a Passignano for the abbey. Oops, it is closed for renovations. Has been for two years and will probably be for another for if it ever opens again. We understand that the few monks who reside there are doing all the work and are going very slowly and don't really want visitors. This was told to us by Matia from the osteria I will be writing about next.

We ate at the Osteria di Passignano. It is one of the Antinori restaurants. There are only 5 in the world and we are lucky enough to have one here on the Monterey Peninsula, Peppoli. I had met one of the chefs from Passignano before our trip (he was here in Pebble Beach working at Peppoli for a week and I had attended a lunch that had included a cooking class before hand.) We had already had Badia di Passignano on our 'to do' list, meeting Matia cinched our going there. The lunch we had on Tuesday October 14th, 2003 was one of the best meals of our trip.

Here goes on what we had:
We split Il Chianti-Classico (small samples of traditional Tuscan flavors), there was:
  • the lightest chicken patè with vin santo, even Rob ate it and enjoyed it, and he DOESN'T do liver in any shape or form.
  • porcini mushrooms, salami w/ fresh figs and small cubes of pecorino & pears in a very light olive oil w/ walnuts
  • Wendy - Le Paste fresche farcite ai pecorini di 'Corzano'- a sampling of three different raviolis/pastas-light as air and had the taste of heaven
  • Rob - Spaghetti con cipolline fresce, fagioli zolfini e santoreggio-spaghetti w/ fresh spring onion, beans & santoreggia cheese
  • We both had the most tender THICK cut spiced veal w/ potatoes and porcini mushroom gratin for our secondi.
For the wine we decided on a different glass of wine for @ course:
  • Bolgheri Vermentino 2002
  • Chianti Classico Peppoli 2001
  • Chianti Classico Riserva Badia a Passignano 2000
Espressi e grappa and they served a marvelous cookie platter. €129. plus €15 tip.

Pricey, but absolutely worth it. We HIGHLY recommend it and will return. We thought maybe we would return for dinner on this trip, but the menu is the same for dinner and so we will save it for another time.

I bought 2 bottles of the Badia a Pass, wine and 2 bottles of the grappa and 1 bottle of their vin santo.

After lunch of 3 hours we took ourselves off to Greve, stopped in Antica Macelleria Folorni and bought a salami w/ fennel and a bottle of spices of parsley, salt & peppers, which looked good.

[A side note we saved this salami to bring home ... Customs confiscated it and threw it out on our arrival back into JFK. I thought I would be allowed to bring back cured meats, guess not, so check before you go to see what you really can bring back with you. If we had only known we would have woofed down that salami!]

After Greve, we made our way to Volpaia - bought 3 bottles of their wine along with a wooded box which holds 2 bottles.

Stopped in Castalina in Chianti to check out Al Gallopapa. Really neat looking in a cave like setting, but the menu doesn't do it for us. Also pricey. More so than lunch, by quite a bit.

Checked into Castel Bigozzi at 6:45. Had our usual apartment #5. We have a living room/dining room/kitchentte area and a seperate bedroom with armoire and table. Full bath with one of those pocket door showers. Good water pressure! We also have a wonderful stone patio that looks out the Casole area. From the pool area you can see San Gimi in the distance.

We decided to eat dinner at Il Pozzo in Monteriggioni. We had eaten there last year and enjoyed it and it is easy and close to where we are staying. And we love being inside the walls of Monteriggioni.

We started with a plate of antipasta uno per dei with mixed Tuscan salumi, ham and crostini.
Primi Uno per dei of picial Verde, home made 'pici' in basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, grated Parmigiano and olive oil.
Secondi Wendy - Agnello alla griglia, grilled lamb chops
Rob - Maiale di Cinta Senese al Vin Santo e Finocchietto, pork of 'Cinta Senese' in Vin santo e fennel sauce.
Wine Lilliano 2001
Grappa Lilliano

Had a totally lovely evening, the wife doesn't speak any English, but the husband does and they do have a web site. Retired by midnight.

Next day, up by 8, breakfast on our patio -- blood orange juice, banana yogurt, cornetto and cap.

OKAY!!! Off to Castello Pallazo di Piano. This is the castle we came across last year and for the past 12 months we have been trying to get information about it and no one has been any help. It dates back to the 12th century and is fabulous. We have asked on the message board before if anybody knew anything about it but came up with zero. But it does exist and it is there and it isn't a figment of our imagination. Thank GOD.

We did find out it had been a hotel about 20 years ago with a restaurant, but has been sitting idle ever since. It originally belonged to the Giacommo Di Andrea Tolomei in 1270.

After we checked to make sure the castle was there and we weren't loopie we went to Sorvicille. We drove through, and went on to Siena. We parked outside of Porto S. Marco, walked to the Duomo and the Il Campo. Still lots of tourists and we guess about 90-95% were German.

Had a 3 o'clock lunch at Bar Il Polio.
Mezza vino rosso
Mezza aqua naturalle, which we always have at each meal even though I hadn't mentioned that earlier.
Wendy - Tortellini con zucchine
Rob - Spaghetti alla Carbonara
espressi e grappa bianca €35

By far the least of our meals taste wise, but what can one expect when eating in the center of tourism.

I had purchased a GSM phone before we left and it worked in Rome, but hadn't worked since. It did work in Siena, so we both phoned home even though it was only 7 am in California, but we needed to check in.

We didn't do much in Siena; saw the Duomo, walked the streets and had lunch in Il Campo. There really were too many people there for us so we left and returned back to Castel Bigozzi. We opened up a bottle of the Volpaia and sipped it on our stone terrace in the very nice wine glasses that Stefania lent to us. The sun was just about to go down behind the hills of Tuscany and leave the landscape a glowing shade of pink. There were a few men in the fields accompanied by their four legged friends. Off to hunt dinner no doubt.

Thanks to Dean's recommendation we dined at 'Osteria di Fonterutoli' in Castellina in Chianti (si). A drive of about 10 to 15 minutes from our place. Small place with 10 tables.

We had a bottle of their wine: Castello di Fonteruto-Chianti €18 Very good!
Antipasto uno per due - salami, ham crostini of liver, one of tomato, one of mushroom on polenta. Primi - tagliatelle al porcini (1 for 2)
Secondi - Lombatina Vitella (both of us)
Contorni - patate arrosto
espressi e grappa (of course)

The dinner was tasty and the owners were delightful. We will return next year on our annual trip to that region. We recommend everyone who is traveling in the area try it. Bought a bottle of their grappa €26 The total with the bottle of grappa was €96.

Thank you Dean

Thursday October 16th

Breakfast on our terrace. What a lovely way to start our days in the country. Another beautiful day. The air definately has a chill to it. It is mid October after all.

Today we are off to Certaldo, Montaione, Castelfiorentino and San Vivaldo.

The town of Certaldo is a wonderful hill town with the Governor's Palace (12th century) open to the public €3 pp. The views from the rampart walls goes on forever. Parking was limited outside the wall, but we parked near by at a job site. You can not park in the vilage of Certaldo Alto.

We had a delightful lunch at: 'Il Castello Certaldo Alto'
Antipasti Mista - a plate of ham, salami, crostini(tomato picante, patè w/ anchovies, artichokes €10
Primi Wendy & Rob - sottolii-mixed vegetables preserved in olive oil (I would definately skip this next time) €4
@ Rob - Ribollita-Tuscan bread soup-basically a stew it was so thick, no beans in their version. €6
Secondi Wendy - Gnocchetti ai porcini €8
Rob - Grigliata mista-mixed grill of chicken, lamb & pork, the pork was the best of the meats. €11
mezza vino rosso di casa
acqua frizzante
total €60

The service was very good, the owner waited on us and he was very kind. The room was simple, but extrememly lovely. There is a hotel attached.

The town of Certaldo Alto should be a must. Not large, but lovely. The few stores were overpriced!

After lunch we drove to Montaione & Castelfiroentino, beautiful, but didn't stop. The different churches and monuments all seem to be closed.

On to San Vivaldo - Very special place, unfortunately both the monastery and the 16th century chapels were all locked up. Still a lovely place to get out of the car and walk around. The forest setting is so calming and lovely, the many little chapels are beautiful.

Back to our place with a stop at Bar d'Orso. We picked up 4 different pecorinos and a salami and prosciutto, some sundried tomatos and artichokes. Two bags of Antonio Mattei's Mattonella. Biscottificio for vin santo. Had espressos and grappa, and shared with the two woman working that afternoon the review by Dean. They got a real chuckle from Deans' review about the toilette door and the full pig they carve meat from. We have been going to Bar d'Orso for the past two years when in the area, now three years, and have always found it bustling with local traffic and charming. Not in the normal sense of the word 'charming', but you just have to love it there. It sits at a busy T in the road. Dean has writen about and given directions to it (on slowtrav) so I won't. But if you are in the neighborhood of Monteriggioni and the highway check it out.

Dinner tonight at Antico Ristorante Pestello. (Dean was right it is out in nowhere. Aprox 13 km from Poggibonsi, though we went via Castelina in Chianti to get there. We hate Poggibonsi, we are always getting lost there, and if we can avoid it, we do. Something about swallowing us up in their roundy-rounds and by-passes and interchanges.)

Anyway Antico Ristorante Pestello has a lovely interior, recently restored, the walls are rough hued. They were probably sand blasted to get that clean. Service was good, but a bit brusque. Bring your reading glasses for the menu.

We ordered:
Fettunta Toscana - crostini w/ garlic and olive oil €3.50
We shared Gnocchi Ghiotti - gnocchi w/ pecorino, basil, pinenuts, & walnuts, very yummy €6.50
Wendy - Tagliata Aceto balsa, beef filet, sliced, w/ rocket and balsamic €13
Rob - Braciola di Maiale con fagioli all'vecelletto - roasted pork cutlet w. beans in tomato sauce €11
litre vino rosso c
asa aqua frizzante
total €61.

It was a lovely dinner, we ate in the front room. It appears there are two other rooms, there was an upstairs though I don't know what was there.

We did have to air our clothes out and wash our hair. This is the first time on this trip that happened. UGH! We didn't have any grappa after dinner because the drive was so long. And it was cold that night. 6 celsius

This had been a great day. Saw lots of the countryside, Certaldo was the highlight. Discovering ribollita was perfect, especially since it was not very warm today. In bed by 11:21 YIKES! We sure do seem to be going to bed early this year.

Friday October 17th

Our last full day in Tuscany. I realize so far most of my ramblings have centered around our meals. What does that say about us? Hmm I wonder ...

It is getting cold! Winter is here, forget fall. The plan is Lilliano & Volpaia, with lunch at the Botega/cafe there.

Well, plans change. Breakfast on the terrace - blood orange juce, fresh pineapple, prosciutto and salami, our own pecorino from Bar d'Orso two types Verdi & w/ peppercorns, banana yogurt and caps and cornettos.

Okay off we go South in search of hill towns and what looks like a lone castel or monestary way off, we can see it from our patio. The drive took us to:
  • Frosini-a palazzo and a closed church
  • Chuisdino
  • Montalcinello
  • Belforte
  • Radicondoli
  • Monsano- filled our water bottle from the faucet that was attached to the church in town. They are doing some renovation here
  • Casole d'Elsa
  • and back to Abbadio di Isola- Church closed!!!!
We saw some gorgeous countryside and Rob loved driving through the hills.

Well, so much for that. It is time for lunch ... 1pm. Okay time to go on the other side of Strove.

Checked out Lilliano, maybe lunch here ... nope, all closed up. I guess we are late in the season.

Okay how about Volpaia - a 20 minute or so drive away.

We got to Castellina in Chianti and decided what happens if Volpaia is closed. It was open on Tueday when we were there, but we were hungry and didn't want to take a chance. You would think we weren't getting enough food. Mind you we are not large people, we just love the food here. So we take every oportunity to eat.

We decided to eat at Osteria Il Tinello, we had eaten here two years ago and totally enjoyed our meal. The last time we ate on their lovely patio that looks out on the Chianti Valley, but not today. Today is a day for ribollita! The temp. today has only varied from 9C-11.5C. We were the first there, but shortly after we arrived others joined us, all locals.

The general manager, Vito Chiaviello, was the sole waiter, very nice.

We ordered:
Peligrino, litre of vino rosso, he poured it from a traditional Chianti bottle into a litre pitcher.
We started with antipasto Toscano - 2 slices of a large salami, 3 slices of prosciutto and 1 slice of a bolonga & pepper type salami, 2 crostini w/ patè.
Ribollita for both of us, much better than yesterdays. Todays had fagioli, black cabbage or kale, bread, carrots and didn't need salt. It was perfect. As a matter of fact everybody seemed to have ordered this. It was nice to know we ordered it before anyone else (do as the Italians do, and we did!)
secondi Wendy - La Tagliata del Tinello - beef steak sliced thinkly served with mixed salad and slices of pecorino €14.
Rob - Lombatina di Vitella alla griglia €14.
Contorni of patate arrosto €3.50
espresso e grappa, Vito treated us to the grappa.
total bill €62.50

We highly recommend this Osteria if you are in the area.

After lunch we walked in Castelina in Chianti and froze. I checked the church out, and that was only available to me because three ladies and one young girl were cleaning the church.

We drove back through the back roads of Larnano - nothing really there though there was a botega we thought about for dinner. Great back roads and white roads. The roads here are terrific, freshly paved and maintained, the white roads (dirt) are all groomed nicely.

We made a stop at Bar d'Orso for a caffe and took more pictures. I even photographed the button you push to access the bathrooms. We made it back to Bigozzi just in time for sunset. We decided to stay in tonight and relax and enjoy the meats and pecorinos we bought yesterday and have a bottle of the Volpaia-Chianti Classico 2001. This is a very delicious, full bodied wine that left the glass with a beautiful rich aubergine color. Maybe that isn't a good thing, but we enjoyed the bottle.

I packed at a leisurely pace and gave Rob a chance to practice his surfing the TV waves here in Italy. He wasn't having withdrawls ... but ... :)

We will be sorry to leave Castel Bigozzi, it has really been our best stay yet (this is our third year in a row here). But tomorrow will be a big day.

I am really glad we stayed in, we had been going, going & going. Have had terrific meals both lunch and dinner and the next two plus weeks will be busy.

Saturday October 18th

Awake in the 7 o'clock hour. Too cold to eat on our terrace so to the dining room we go. This is the first time we've eaten in it. Rob didn't know quite where everything was because I always set everything up for us. Pretty funny.

We were on the road by 9:15. Our first stop will be Montalcino via SS2. We need to get some more of the wonderful wine bottle openers we picked up 2 years ago when we were there. We went up to the fort, it just started to rain, hard. We went in, thought we would have some wine, but felt overwhelmed by the choices, so we passed. Also it was only 10:20 am.

We went up to photograph the upper levels of the fort, €3 pp. There isn't much here, but again the views are terrific, especially when it isn't raining. This is a kids wonderland to play in if you were a kid. But the latter/stairs are steep so be careful.

From here we are off to Abadia ST. Antimo. What a place. There were Gregorian Chants playing when we arrived, I don't think it was actually the monks who live there, but rather a recording which you can purchase for €20. We did. The monks do do their chants and if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time ... you would be so lucky. After the chants played, the gentleman at the front started playing his oboe. Quite charming.

After leaving St. Antimo we drove through the countryside and Val d' Orcia, listening to our new CD. Our Opel had a CD player. (I know the question has come up on the board whether rental cars have tape or CD players, ours had a CD player as it did last year, but last year we were prepared for a tape deck, this year we burned some of our Italian CD's and tenors CD's and were prepared. The radio leaves a bit to be desired in Italy.)

After we left the abbey we went through Acquapendente (a beautiful town, rather large) onto S. Lorenzo Nuova where we picked up the S-74. This took us directly to our desired destination of Pitigliano. The roads were all great, freshly paved and lots of FUN. We arrived in Pitigliano around 1:15, drove through the outer area first, took photos then hunted for a parking space. This is going to be our lunch stop.

Okay, so we ate at one of the first places we came to. But, it turned out to be terrific. Trattoria La Porta, just outside the gate. Maritime motif.

We had:
Primi Acqua Cotta-very tasty - bread on the bottom with kale or some sort of green leafy veggie, potatoes and a perfectly poached egg on top. Seasoned just right, We both had this. €5.68
Secondi Wendi - Tagliata al Radicchio. I like the different types of Tagliata. This one, they had sautèd the radicchio in olive oil until almost carmalized. Nice and sweet. This was over two nice pieces of steak. wonderful flavors and as I write this several weeks later I can still taste the flavors.
Rob - Bistecca al Rosso di Sovana, pork w/ a hint of sage. €9.81 Rob loved his as much as I loved mine.
Wine-Vino La Bosattina terre Eteree 2001 and aqua frizzante lunch totaled €45.

After lunch we walked around town, went into a couple of churches. The town was basically closed down for siesta time. And it is raining!

Okay, we were going to go to Sovano after Pitigliano, but had decided to save it for next year. Just not enough time in a day and we still need to get to Rome at a decent hour. So down the S-74 to Albinia then to S-1. This is absolutely gorgeous country and the roads were so much fun! I am repeating myself there, sorry. We went in and out of the rain which was only a bit of a nuisance, and there was virtually no traffic and we actually stayed on schedule.

We arrived into Rome and back to the Excelsior by 6:15pm. Perfect timing. Back to our room, 527 as usual. We really like this particular room because it is on the backside of the hotel where it is much quieter than being on the Veneto and it is one of the few rooms with a patio/loggia, which makes it nice to air ones cloths out at night and also get a fresh breath of air.

The only thing bad are those blood sucking insects that seem to find their way to my body! I used a plug-in cintronella insect repellant that I bought at a pharmacy here in Rome and took with us wherever we go, I even brought it home and will use it if need be in the future with an adaptor since it has eu. plugs, but that still didn't keep them away from me. Ouch! Scratch! Slap! Scratch! Curse and mutter not nice thoughts! Keep the doors closed at night.

Now we have our Rome portion of the trip. We will be going to Ostia Antica in the morning.
Five nights in Rome with a day trip to Ostia Antica

It is good to be back in Rome, our time in the country was the best yet, but we love Rome. The people and the air are so soft here, and we are extremely comfortable in this city. This will be our 7th trip to Italy in 6 years and each one just gets better and better.

We had made reservations last week, for dinner tonight at Harry's Bar, for 10pm (which is okay by us, we eat late at home too, usually between 8 and 9'sh) and since we got back into town at 6:15pm we have plenty of time to make our reservation with a stop in our bar for a drink before dinner. The bar in the Excelsior is quite lovely with a very old world feel. It was pouring out as we sat down for our pre-dinner drink, but lucky for us the rain stopped just in time so we could walk up the street the 2 blocks to Harry's.

We took an Ansel Adams 2004 calender to Rino, the owner of Harry's, as a small gift from our home to his. We always bring him something from here and since Ansel Adams was from here and Rob used to deal with him in the photography store here in Monterey, we thought this would be something he might enjoy. He too loves photography, not neccessarily the taking of pictures, but the looking at them. (I know the subject of what one can take as a small gift has come up in the past, the last thread I saw was taking cranberry/limoncella, but I wouldn't dream of doing that so this worked for us.)

We had a lovely table where we could watch all the goings on in this very very busy place. We have been coming here ever since our first visit to Rome in 1998, it used to be busy, but in a kind of quiet way ... not anymore. They have a piano player with a singer, which is very nice and all the beautiful people show up. Rino kind of holds court, which is very ammusing to watch. This is definately a people watching place.

Our dinner was what we call fine dining or the Italians might call it a 'high kitchen'?
We started with:
Antipasti Wendy - eggplant with several cheeses baked in the oven-very tasty
Rob - Mixed greens w/ fennel salad-too much like wild grasses for Rob
Primi Wendy - Spaghetti w/ artichokes and lobster-good, but didn't finish it
Rob - Lasagne w/ white meat-not terribly hot by the time it made it to the table
Secondi Wendy & Rob - Veal chop- a nice thick chop probably closer to a double chop. Very tender and tasty, we would have this again if we were to eat here again.
Wine - Montalcino d'Alba
caffè e grappa
The total bill was a whopping €300. Y I K E S !!!!!! (we were able to amortize the price with future dinners).

In bed by 2 am, which is our usual hour when we are in Italy.

Sunday October 19th

Up at 9 am and our plan is to drive the Via Apia from just outside the walls in Rome all the way to Ostia Antica (the ancient sea port for ancient Rome). But we didn't get out as early as we thought we would, because we watched most of the Beatification of Mother Theresa. It is really a treat to be here at this most historical time for the Church. (We are not Catholic, but how can one not be swept up in all of the Catholic Church/Vatican goings-on when in Rome). We were in the countryside for the Pope's 25th anniversary and now in Rome for this. Very special.

Well, there ended up being two hick-ups, first Via Cavour was closed, again, going the way we wanted to go, just like last week when we tried to leave Rome to go up the Lucca, lesson learned there and Via Apia is closed to car traffic, at least the way we wanted to go, on Sunday mornings to allow foot traffic and bicycles a free path. Oh well, at least we did a lot of it last year and we will remember this for the next time. So our route took us along C. Columbo on to Via Acilia to Via del Mare which took us directly into Ostia Antica.

W O W!!! W O W !!!! WOW!!

We've been wanting to go to Ostia for several years now. What a find. We highly recommend this as a day trip. You can't see all of it in one day, but close to enough. Wear comfortable shoes. Dirt and stone paths. Bathrooms outside the gate and also inside there are bathrooms along with a cafeteria, shop and museum. Entry is €4 per person.

There were very few people here, a couple of school buses with German high school students, a few Italians and us! But I can imagine the crowds here in the Summer.

We've been to Pompeii/Herculaneum and Ephesus as stated before, but I think this is bigger and even though it wasn't under ash like the others here in Italy it is pristine. Most of the buildings don't have roofs, but some do, some of the structures don't fully exist any longer, but there are some fabulous mosaic floors, some you can not walk on and others you are allowed to, though I am not sure why they allow this. There is a fabulous set at the Baths of the Cisiarii built under Hadrian. Also the Baths of Neptune had wonderful mosaic floors.

The theatre seated 3,000 and was built in the age of Agustus, evidentally they hold concerts and plays here to this day. The Grand Horrea still has the stone vessels that held the grain from the flour mill. The Insula of Diana is just brick walls, but you can tell the scale of the residential-cum-commercial block. the Forum Area with its Capitolium only has its brick shell left, but it is still very impressive. You can go up the 25 or so steps and get a very good overview of the area. (Rob and I got separated in our enthusiasm to photograph an area we were checking out, and I went to the top of Capitolium and started whistling for him, he could hear me, but didn't know where I was, I felt foolish, but eventually he found me. I think next year we will carry those walkie-talkies for just this type of situation).

The Round Temple still has some of the original columns up and there are tunnels beneath that you can explore. There are still some frescoes on display, though a whole area of frescoes was closed the day we were there, whether they open this area to the public I don't know.

This is a must do! Rick Steves has a walking tour on his website, check it out. I think Bill Thayer has done a write-up about this site as well, and I fully agree with him this is a treasure of a spot and well worth skipping Pompeii if you only have one day and have to chose between the two.

After our time in Ostia we drove the 10 minutes it took to get to Fuimicino to drop off our car. This was a very easy process.

I haven't really talked about our car to this point and now we are letting loose of it. We had a 4 door Opel that was a deisel with a 5-speed (we drive 5-speeds at home, too). We had A/C which we did not need this year and a CD player, which we were ready for having brought our own music. Last year we were ready for a tape deck and had our converter for the mini-disk player we had with us with lots of music and couldn't use because the car only had a CD player and the radio which we were religated to.

We had gotten the car totally filthy while in Tuscany going along all those white roads, and the drive earlier up to Carrara, but the hard rain back into Rome cleaned it for us so we weren't too embarrased when we turned it in for the night at the Excelsior. So good-bye to our Opel and back to Rome.

We took a taxi back into Rome for €38. I realized when we just started off from the airport that we should have taken the train back into town. Next time, lesson learned. Oh well, no more car. We really enjoy driving in Italy and don't mind driving in Rome, though you really do need to know where you are going and any options in case your path is blocked. We also noticed last night when we returned to Rome with the rain, people seemed to have slowed down a bit and were more cautious.

Well, dinner at 9pm at Santa Lucia recommended by Paolo at the Excelsior. This restaurante is in a lovely area, actually across a small Piazza from the Hotel Raphael, which was one of the places we wanted to check out anyway. They are known to have a rooftop bar. Dinner first.

'Santa Lucia' Via di Tor Sanguigma 24 or L. go Febo 12 (same thing 2 entrances). This restaurant has two rooms. We were seated in a lovely room with a very high ceiling, red walls w/ modern art on the walls. (Where else would art be?) There were 8 or 9 tables mostly non Italians were in this room. The upstairs room (3 steps) had a slight nauticle theme, all Italians in there, maybe 10 tables.

We ordered:
Primi Wendy - Mozzarella di bufala con pomodori-gorgeous, generous and delicious. They had fried stems of rosemary in a light olive oil and garlic on top of the huge rounds of mozzarella. You eat the leaves of the rosemary, they were delightful and light and just a wonderful taste for the palate. €12.
Rob - Trofie con pomodorini al forno e ricotta-a small pasta with a large portion. €10
Secondi- Wendy & Rob - Carrè di maiale alla tre erbe-pork Carrè w/ aromatic herbs. Had a light gravy and was served w/ potate arrosta €18
espressi e grappa (on the house)
total bill €84

I would have much rather been in the other room, there was an American couple in our room and she would just not shut up and her voice was very loud in this room. Oh well.

11:30pm We went up to the rooftop of the Hotel Rapheal, but the bar closes at 9:30 on Sunday and Monday nights. Lovely 2 level terrace bar with a great view. Just around the corner from Piazza Navona.

We consoled ourselves with gelato from 'Blue Ice' Di Marco Zero, VS Agnese in Agone 17-20
Wendy - mint chip and choco
Rob - sour cherry, Rob only orders sour cherry and he does not get a variety of flavors, only sour cherry!

I think this is the only time I mention us having gelato, which we did, more times than in the past, and probably about 6 times, not bad for us. We aren't big desert people, Rob loves berries for desert and my family laughs. Of course they are chocolate junkies, so what can I say.

Afterwards a stop at Bar Della Pace for a couple of grappa nightcaps. Yum.

I quess I prefer a good glass of wine or in this case grappa. It might be anisette or raki or even ouzo, depending on where we are in the world or the theme of our conversations and the music, when we are home on a quiet Saturday night or lazy Sunday afternoon.
Monday, October 21st

Well, no Nacropolis Vatican tour.

Only two disappointments for this trip thus far.
1 - Via Apia being closed on Sunday
2 - Vatican Nacropoli/scavi tour not being run right now.

This is understandable with all of the Pope's activities going on this week. The Pope's 25th anniversary, which we were in Strove at the time, the Beatification of Mother Theresa and the ordaning/capping of the 30 cardinals. WOW! and we are here. What a treat.

Well, on todays agenda - our annual visit (pilgrimage, sort of) to St. Pietres. We always go once, for each visit to Rome. Taxi there ... walk back.

St. Peters' was packed. When we reached St. Peter's the large 'painting' of Mother Theresa was still up, when we left 2 1/2 hours later it had been removed. Its' all in the timing!!!

The seats and flowers were still set up along with the canopy for the pope.

The interior was spectacular as always. We love being inside. We took some great photos and Rob got two of one of the keepers with his eyes piercing right into Robs' camera lens, if we can figure out how to post pictures maybe we will, on a different portion of Slow Travel.

The weather really co-operated. It had poured when we were eating our breakfast and the wind was way high. But, when we left the Hotel, the rain and wind had stopped. Lucky for us.

After we left the Vatican we went outside the wall in search of Borgo Pio. This street was also written up in the March 2003 Gourmet-Rome issue, and on our to-do-list. One of the restaurants listed was Arlù , Borgo Pio 135, the owner-Giammaria Armando, the menu was limited due to the late hour, 2:45, and they had been very busy. There were quite a few priests still there, wonder why! :)

We had:
Primi Wendy & Rob - spaghetti w/ tomato, bacon and pecorino €8
Secondi Wendy & Rob - Maiale very thinly sliced w/ a light sauce of wine, butter and drippins, served w/ peas & pork, and a salad €15
Vin di casa-La Selva Toferrio Rosso, water and 2 espressi total €66

After lunch, we walked Borgo Pio, a lovely street with lots of shops which I would say the locals shop in. We took this street to the end, which is right at Hadrians', usually we walk straight down from the Vatican to Hadrians then across the Ponte S. Angelo, but this was a nice change. We walked V. Coronari where there are lovely antique shops, a lot were closed. From there we walked to Piazza della Rotunda waved at the webcam and photographed it. The rooftop was closed on the Hotel Pantheon, (it has a new name now,) due to the rain. We went into the Pantheon then followed our visit with a grappa at one of the cafès in the pizza.

Bought some lovely stationery and advent greeting cards from: Cartoleria Pantheon- via Della Rotunda 15.

Dinner was at a ristorante we came across on our walk today. We didn't even go back to the hotel to freshen up, instead we just walked back to it and had a nice simple dinner.

Dinner was at - Ristorante Tre Archi Via dei Coronari 233.
We had at this very brightly lit-very simple decor-probably won't go back to restaurante: (Not bad, but there's better.)
1 for 2- plate of salumi € 4.50
1 for 2- spaghetti alla Carbonara € 6.50 ( I sneaked water into mine, it was too dry for me-Wendy)
Each - Scaloppine di Vitelle € 7.50 Delicious
And- Potate arrosta € 3.
Litre of vino di casa rosso
acqua di Nepi
Total € 39

The evening wasn't over, Rino had asked us to come back to Harry's on Monday night (when we saw him Saturday). So back to the hotel to shower and change-10pm 'ish, and up the Veneto we go. We are by nature night owls, it is amazing how early we have been getting up throughout this whole trip ... thus far. We are not larks, which often can jeopardize a site we might want to see. But we have been doing really well, hopefully it will continue for the next leg of our trip. We still have 2 1/2 days in Rome and then the entire cruise from Civitivecchia-Dubrovnik-Corfu ...-Barcelona. Eleven days. Yippe!

Off to bed after we close Harry's - tomorrow is designated as a shopping day.

Tuesday October 21st

Breakfast at the hotel, our only other food for the day turns out to be a slice of pizza on the move. We stop for a glass of wine and bottle of water around 3 at Bar Frattina. We usually find ourselves here, year after year, at least once.

I really tried to find something to buy ...

We did go back to Archivi Alinari, the book/photographic shop I mentioned on our first day in Rome. A bit more about this place: The images are from the early days of photography, shot by 2 or 3 brothers dating back to 1852. An 8x10 is €24. These images are printed from the original plates.

They have books on the various regions of Italy with photos by these brothers. I bought one for the person who is covering all my Pilate's classes while we are off in Italy and such on the region Emilio-Romano where both of her parents are from, and one for Rob's parents on the Abruzzi region where Dad's family is all from. There is a lovely book on Rome which we picked up for ourselves. Rob picked up two 8x10's. The images in the volumns are available in single image form. We spent a total of € 152.46 I think that was a screeming deal!

Archivi Alinari The information for this store is: Via Albert 16 A/B

After we left Alinari we went in search of the Wine academy of Rome near the 'Steps'. It is owned by the same owner as the Hassler Hotel and a very lovely Alessandra showed around. There is an annual membership fee of € 20 or 24 €. They hold regular tastings and classes, there is a library where a member can go and do research and have a glass of wine if they choose. There is a charming and intimate dining room where you can have either lunch or dinner, by reservation and only to members. They currently have three guest rooms and soon will have their fourth guest room. The location is right at the steps, as a matter of fact the building is adjacent to the steps. Very interesting and should be further researched. We finished our tour on the roof top and were let out at the top of the stairs, that was nice. I did tell them about Slow Travel and gave them the E-address, I hope they followed up and looked the site up.

Thought that the Hassler Hotel had a roof top bar-NOT! What they do have is a lovely restaurant that was set up with romance in mind. The view was to weep over .. it was so breathtaking. Ah the roofs and domes of Roma ... mmmmmmmm

Tonight we are doing our other ritual/pilgrimig/we-must-do- when-in-Rome ... La Cisterna. We always go. Fausto, the owner, is always at the door to greet us, this year his son seated us as Fausto was on the phone, Luigi one of the main waiters was on holiday, but when he is there he sings and his tenor voice is so sweet bouncing off the very old walls of the this establishment in the Trastevere area of Roma. Romeo was there and we love him, he is always so kind and caring. He has a wonderful line that always brings a smile to our faces-'Please don't leave me' he says in his kind- of-high pitched voice. They have a tenor who has been there forever, last year the fellow who plays the accordian was gone due to bad health, but he was back this year. The two of them are such a treat and even if some people think this might be hokey, the whole experience is well worth it and it isn't just dinner. It is the whole picture!

We always have the same thing because it is the best choice due to it is the house special. We always are served the house prosecco and we had the house merlot. The family who owns La Cistern' also owns (?) the vinyards of 'Silvestri'.

Primi - buccatini w/ red sauce & fresh pecorino
Secondi - leg of lamb with rosemary served w/ potate arrosto
One of the other waiters brought us a very gererous serving of sambucca when Romeo wasn't watching. I can't remember this waiters name, but he has always been there and on many occasions helped us, and he too has always been kind to us.

Romeo came out not too long after that with two champagne glasses on plates with rose pedals. He opened a fresh bottle of prosseco/sparkling wine and poured us each a glass. How sweet. Last year we were invited to go down in to the lower levels where the original cistern is, and reportedly a prison, to share with a few others a glass of wine.

We recommend La Cisterna, but a few observations this time ... We went at 9pm - too late! 8 is probably a better time. There didn't seem to be as many locals there as in past years. TAUK tours is a regular.

Dinner= € 77
Six years ago it was about $39 out the door, 3 years ago it averaged out to be around $23 per person, last year I think our bill came to € 68 or 69€, but last year the euro was a 1 for 1 with the American dollar.

After dinner, we had the restaurant call a taxi for us, highly recommend that unless you want to walk in the Trastevere area, and off to the Hotel Eden and their roof top bar. It has a lovely patio, and the view towards the Victor Emmanuel and St. Peters are breathtaking. One thing different this year is that they have glassed in the patio, which really defeats the purpose. I think they made a major error here, unless they remove the glass in the late Sring and Summer months, like hockey glass in an arena. Also the drink prices have soared!!!! On the good side they still have the piano player and the setting is really something and it is still lovely.

We walked back to our hotel at a lovely slow stroll.

Wednesday, October 22nd

A rainy day in Rome. We have decided not to have breakfast, but to grab two paninos from Il Chicco and then take a cab to Santa Maria Maggiore. Finally we got to this very important church. It is both beautiful and significant. We were lucky enough that when we entered somebody was just putting money into the machine which allows the three sections of the ceiling and wall to be illuminated. Grazie mille. What beauty! I took a lot of images on the digital, but to name each treasure I can not do.

From there we walked, umbrellas protecting us, down to Trajans and the Forum to see what progress had been made in the past 12 months. As we were making our way to the steps up to the Capidolium and the rain was getting harder, we found out that the Vittoriano is now open to the public. It might have been open last year, but we can't be sure, but this year we went in.

What a terrific place to be on a rainy day in Roma. We were protected most of the time and we were allowed to go all the way up and it looks as if normally the library/ museum is open to the public. It was closed the day we were there and the next day. But we did walk through several galleries and they had just opened an exhibit about WWI and WWII Italy. A very impressive exhibit.

From there we made a stop at the cafeteria between the VE monument and the Capitoline hill for a caffè.

From there we walked in the rain and through slightly water- high streets to Piazza della Rotunda, where we stopped and had a glass of wine at Bar Della Rotonda SRL. We had the perfect table under the umbrellas, we were dry, but the table next to us was a bit damp.

From there we walked to the Corso so I could make my way up to a music store that carries some Italian traditionale music. I did pick up a few CD's; though I wish I had been able to get more. Two are recordings from the early 1920's or 30', another CD has a lot of music from Piedmont and Sardignia and is just what I was looking for, older stuff, and one is a 3 CD set of Venezia/Firenze/Neopolitan. Well, practice, practice, practice, I will eventually find the ideal shop to get what I really want.

Back to the hotel to get ready for our last dinner in Roma.

We have had such a wonderful time, just everything went right for us. Every meal was as delicious as the previous meal, and THAT meal was terrific! Everybody we have had contact with has been warm and even more friendly than in past years. The rain has only been a slight nuisance and it actually opened new things to us due to trying to get in from out in the rain, so to speak.

Tonight we are returning to the ristorante that we first went to on our first trip to Rome, six years ago! That first night we spent 45 minutes trying to find the place on foot and got so off course, and it turned out to be so easy. Because of our ordeal back then we didn't really enjoy our dinner. And because of that we have not gone back on follwing visits. But everybody does a write up on our destination so we have decided to give it another try.

Tonight we are going to NINO'S. Near the Piazza d' Spagna. It is a perfect place to dine on a rainy night in our favorite part of the world.

We have 9:30 reservations, and reservations appear to be a must. The place was packed when we arrived, but after just a short wait we were given what I consider to be the perfect table. It was a two top, half way in the restaurant so we could see all the comings and goings. The nonna was behind the counter and she definately keeps a close eye on things. The interior was as warm and welcoming as I remembered. Rob hadn't remebered it being as lovely as it is, chalk it off to the going in circles years ago trying to find the place. And the kicker was it had been right under our noses back then. Dumb!

Our waiter's name was Dario and he was pleasure, he too came from Abruzzi and when he found out Rob's family came from there he became ever more delightful.

Dario wanted desperately for us to order the mushroom soup. We wanted ribollita! It was comical how he tried to convince us we wanted the mushroom soup, but we only just discovered ribollita soup and we leave tomorrow and want a last fix. And it's raining outside! This is the perfect antidote to cold ... wet ... rainy ... dark ... nights. Their ribollita was terrific.
Primi uno per dei-arrobiata
Secondi Wendy - grilled veal chop Rob - Veal scallopini in balsamic- mm good
dei caffe e grappa
The wine - Vino di casa- 1 litre
Our total... a very reasonable € 77.
While eating and after we finished our dinner we agreed that NINO'S will be going on our must-do-list on our future trips. Next October, if we can't sneak in a quick trip sometime this next Spring.

After dinner we went via taxi to the Hassler. (We normally would have walked up the Spanish Steps from NINO's and that would have put us right there, but it was raining and we would have ruined our shoes. Call us cautious. So a taxi it was for an after dinner glass of wine at the Hassler. Their main public/living room is exquisitely furnished. With wall coverings in golds and reds and sofas and banquets covered in silks with the same color scheme. Very, very tastefull. Of course. There is a piano player who was very talented, and he took requests. We didn't make any, but a couple of other tables did have short lists. He stopped playing around 1 am.

So we take ourselves off to the Excelsior, and sit for a while in our hotels living room area. The bar is closed now, too bad! They always have these wonderful little cookies and I was hoping to get a small plate of them.

This has been a Very Very good last day in Rome ... Well, off to our room, tomorrow is another day and the beginning of another leg to our trip. We will be leaving Rome and heading up to Civitivecchia to board Holland America Lines - Noordam . This will be our 7th voyage on her and this years' itinerary looks terrific. All sorts of new ports for us. But this also means this is the end of our time here in Italy.
Thursday, October 23rd

Awake around 10. Get up and packed - 1 1/2 hours, a bit longer than I expected it to take. Showered and then we went up to Il Chicco for lunch. Giada was there. She did not receive the photos we had mailed to her from last year. UG!

Our lunch consisted of my usual insalata which I love from them. It is always so fresh and crisp with carrot shavings, radishes, fresh romaine and other crisp lettuces. A simple drizzling of olive oil and balsamic and lightly salted and peppered. Ah the simple things in life.
We both had a proscuitto and cheese panino.
A split of vino rosso and 2 espressi and 2 grappa's from Giada, the total bill € 17.10 20 with tip. :)

We stopped at our regular little market, run by two brothers, one very friendly and the other not so much. We bought two bottles of a Chianti that we hope has a limited amount of, if not completely void of sulfites. Something to share with my sister who gets major migraines. She loves red wines and I hope this will be something she can have without any ramifications. I guess it is a test. There are so many different opinions and theories; we will just have to find out for ourselves.

After my quick stop at the market we dash to the hotel to check out and head North.

I am at my half-way point in the writing of our trip to Italy and the Mediterranean. The Italy part has come to an end and I have a few observations that I would like to share since I have JUST decided to split this trip log into two parts:

So some of 'Part 1 - Italy' - observations;
  1. Everyone has been so generous with their kindness towards us throughout the entire 12+ days. (We have never been treated any less in our 6 prior trips, but it just made the air that much more soft and lovable).
  2. ATM's are the way to go. (I'd used them the past two years, but usually I take lots of my currency via travler's cheques and only rarely rely on the machines, this year I flip flopped that, along with having my bank send me € 's before we left.)
  3. Brought too many warm weather clothes, linen skirts and light tops. But who knew? This past Summer had been a doozie. The last two years up in Tuscany, and in Rome, have been in the high 70's, so be prepared, but don't bring quite so much. (This is really hard for both of us.)
  4. RIBOLLITA SOUP (need I say more?)
  5. OSTIA ANTICA (need I say more?)
  6. Griglia (We've ordered our meats grilled for years. We like simple, it just seemed this years' maiela, vitello and lamb were better than in the past.)
  7. Acqua Cotta- (soup) (The two really new things from this trip were the discoveries of the soups, we don't usually, when traveling, order soup since we eat a vegetable soup daily at home.)
  8. Via Apia and Via Cavour are closed on Sundays!
  9. We like 'Osterias'
  10. Borga Pio
AND an extra- Arrive in to Rome on a Saturday or Sunday, it makes the driving in much easier!

I am sure there are more, but let's call that my first edition of our top 10.

The things we didn't do on this trip were things that we will get back to in the following trips. And on following trips there are things we want to repeat or do just slightly differently. Such as:
  1. Napcorpolis/Scavi Tour- Vatican (And pray that it is available to us at the time we are in Rome.)
  2. Tarquinia - Maybe on our way up to Strove next year.
  3. Saturnia - That looks like that will have to wait a couple of years, because we want to go back to Pitigliano and also Sorvana, and those clearly go together! And we won't be going that way next year.
  4. More time in Volpaia - We plan on making a day around Volpaia next year. We may put Grevè in the mix.
  5. Definately lunch at Osteria di Passignano, maybe dinner ...
  6. OSTIA ANTICA (need I say more?)
  7. ST. John the Lateran
  8. Capuchin Monks/catacombs - Rome - off the V. Veneto . !!!OKAY POST SCRIPT-while writing this -(after the fact), we have visited the catacombs in Palermo, which I will mention in 'Part 2-Med'. I/We do NOT need to go to the Church off the Veneto. We have seen enough!
  9. Find a good resource for Italian music on CD's - emphasis on traditionale. Anything from the early days of recording to the late 1950's, maybe.
  10. I can't write it ... I can't think of it ... I want it to unfold in front of us over the next few months. I know I will see things on the site that will help and I know the list will turn from the top 10 to the top 10 ...
    AH! Practice! Practice! Practice!
I thank you for staying with us and hope you will enjoy our next eleven days, on the Tyrrhenian Sea from Civitivecchia to the Adriadic up to Dubrovnik, to Corfu, Malta, Palermo, to the Island of Manorca then to Toulon and Setè, France and finishing in Barcelona, with a passage somewhere in there through the Straights of Bonifacio. So come along to 'Part 2- the Med 2003'.

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