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Zurers in Italy 2024

Zurers in Italy 2024: Monday, May 13
Day 15: Rome​

I am afraid to jinx us but it is another sunny, warm morning...we have been very fortunate with the weather since the first few days of our trip. After an okay breakfast, which is served in our room, we get in the car to begin our adventure of driving in Rome.

First stop is the Giancolo above Trastevere, one of Rome's hills that has parks and fabulous views over the city.

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We pass grand houses, an impressive fountain (Acqua Paola), and an ever-present statue of Garibaldi.

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After a brief stop back at the hotel (I am finding the driving quite enjoyable), we next go to the Fascist era section of Rome called EUR. Built under Mussolini for a planned international fair, it has a lot of Rationalist architecture, large parks, and planned communities. The most famous landmark is the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the "square Colosseum". We have never actually been to EUR in all our years and I am glad that we finally have the chance to see the neighborhood up close.

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Another modern landmark is the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul built in 1955.

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We drive around the area through rows of attractive apartment blocks, big parks with lakes and waterfalls, and a thriving business district.

We next head across the city looking for the Parco degli Acquedotti, one of the large parks south of the city with many Roman remains, including the Appian Way. The drive takes us through parts of Rome we never visited before...much of it countryside inside the city limits. We have some difficulty finding the park but we happily find a porchetta truck parked on the side of Via Appia Nuova.

The owners are extremely welcoming and kind...wiping off the picnic table and making sure we are comfortable. The sandwiches hit the spot...I have been waiting for one the whole trip.

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We get back on track and arrive at the park without further trouble. The park is a large open field with the remnants of two of the older aqueducts in its middle. The larger of the two was built in the 2nd century B.C. and was still being used in the 16th century.

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There are people jogging, biking, lying on the grass in the sun, and hanging out around a turtle filled pond...it is very quiet and peaceful.

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There is even a golf course right next to the aqueduct.

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We drive back to the hotel and I set out on another exploration of the neighborhood while Diana goes to the roof to quilt. On my walk, I cross two quite different bridges

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and see some more impressive street art on the sides of buildings

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In the late afternoon, we hop back in the car to go to the center and walk around the neighborhood of the Campo de' Fiori where we often stayed. Again, the driving is easy and we find a metered spot on the nearby Lungotevere. We walk through familiar territory...the beautiful Via Giulia and the Campo.

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We stop for an aperitivo at one of the cafes in the Campo and are surprised that two glasses of prosecco don't come with the usual snacks. The area is mobbed with tourists and we are glad to be staying in a different part of the city on this trip.

It's sad walking past the site of the hotel where we stayed for many years--the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo--which is now closed.

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No dinner for Diana tonight...the porchetta sandwich was too much--but I slip out for a slice of pizza and a gelato.

Tomorrow we will go to the Museo Centrale Montemartini...a decommissioned power plant now a sculpture museum - which we visited and liked very much, many years ago.

Jim and Diana
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Monday, May 6​

Day 8: Brescia​

The forecast for our last day in Brescia is not promising....overcast with periods of rain. I have made a trip planner mistake....having us in Brescia on a Monday when all the museums are closed. After breakfast, Diana and I walk over to the nearby piazza and visit the two cathedrals. We make arrangements to meet Ulf at "our bar" when we finish.

The Duomo Vecchio is built in a circular style and dates back to the 11th century. According to Wikipedia, " it (is) one of the most important examples of rotunda in Italy, as well as one of the most significant examples of Lombard Romanesque architecture."

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The interior of the Duomo Vecchio is one the most unique and appealing that we have visited over the years. The circular plan gives the space a sense of openness and serenity.

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There are a couple of striking domes -

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an impressive organ with painted side panels -

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some perspectives that remind me of Piranesi drawings -

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some early floor mosaics -

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and a crypt.

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The "new" Duomo built in the 17th century pales by comparison, though Diana thought it was quite beautiful and impressive. It is bright, not overly decorated, and has the third highest dome in Italy.

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We meet Ulf for coffee in "our bar" and decide to visit Lake Garda, about a half hour to the east. It's not a very scenic drive but, at the lake, we take the road north from Desenzano del Garda looking for an appropriate place to stop for a coffee. We luck out at Padenghe sul Garda where we find a large parking lot above a beach area with bars and restaurants right on the water. It's a quiet spot with beach facilities and a walking path along the lake.

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It's now time to think about lunch. I have identified a place in the hills just above Brescia and we take the quick drive back to town. The very attractive restaurant--Nuovo Nando--is pretty full at 2 pm but we get a table and have one of the best meals of the trip, so far.

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From the Nuovo Nando web site

Diana and I share a plate of excellent beef tartare. Ulf and Diana have risotto with asparagus and robiola cheese--rich but delicious--and I have the local version of ravioli--casoncelli--filled with meat and covered with butter. It is probably the best version of ravioli I have ever tasted..amazing. (Diana and Ulf agree.) We also enjoy a bottle of the local white wine--Laguna--which is also terrific. And the staff is very pleasant....we would be happy to return here anytime.

Back in Brescia, I explore another part of town and find a few more gates (some open) for my collection.

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And I am surprised to find a Romanian restaurant in the international section of Brescia.

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and of course, Garibaldi makes an appearance.

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No dinner tonight again...but we meet Ulf at "our bar" for our last get together. He heads back to Sweden tomorrow and we leave for Tuscany. It's been a great reunion and we look forward to more meetings in the future. We also say goodbye to our friends at Bistro Duomo...it's been a treat getting to know them.

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Jim and Diana
Your photos are really wonderful, Jim - I'm enjoying your trip very much!
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Tuesday, May 14​

Day 16: Rome​

Today is Diana's birthday....she regularly celebrates it in Italy. And it's another beautiful day....

As we are walking out the door, her birthday flowers from the family arrive....beautiful as always. And there's also something from a bakery - which we'll bring for dessert at tonight's birthday dinner.

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Our first stop of the day is the Museo Centrale Montemartini, the decommissioned power plant that now houses a collection of Roman sculptures and mosaics. There is a special exhibit called Uninhabitable Architecture, which intends "to explore the charm and complexity of some uninhabitable architecture in Italy, the exhibition illustrates eight examples distributed throughout the national territory through a choice of images that portray them by type, intended use and period of construction." Since we had visited four of the locations, and are staying adjacent to one of them, we were especially interested in the show.

https://www.centralemontemartini.org/it/mostra-evento/architetture-inabitabili

The museum itself is a stunner....old Roman statues are interspersed with the massive generators, turbines, and piping of the power plant, to great effect.

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and there are lovely mosaics and other sculptures on display as well.

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We had visited the museum many years ago and are happy to make a return visit.

One of our annual rituals in Rome is to pay a visit to the Pantheon with its massive dome and oculus, the first century Roman building that is still being used as a church. So we get in the car and head to the center. No luck finding metered parking so we go into the garage on Via Giulia, just outside the limited traffic zone. Before heading to the Pantheon, we have lunch at a favorite place...La Salumeria..which has excellent sandwiches. On our way to lunch, we pass the farmacia where we had our pre-departure negative COVID test in 2022.

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When we get to the Piazza della Rotonda, all we can see is a sea of people and construction.

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The Pantheon has recently begun charging for admission and there are long lines waiting to buy tickets at electronic kiosks. I find out that if you buy your ticket online, the wait to get in is very short. However, the ticket buying process on my phone proves too challenging....I continually lose the purchase page while trying to access the text with the code from my credit card company. As I get more and more frustrated, even when I successfully satisfy all the demands, the Pantheon ticket office refuses the payment....too many failed attempts. We finally give up and walk to a taxi stand at the Largo Argentina, take a cab back to the parking lot, and return to the hotel. Lesson learned....get tickets for the Pantheon in advance!!!!

I take another walk in the neighborhood and visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery just inside the walls. We have visited other Commonwealth cemeteries in Italy and they are very moving experiences...small and well-kept, with rows of gravestones with names and ages (all very young) of those killed in Italy during World War II.

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I then walk around the nearby neighborhood of Testaccio, a very pleasant residential district known for its market and restaurants. Families are sitting in the main piazza and kids are kicking soccer balls and playing....

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There is a striking wall mural on a building adjacent to the market.

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The old slaughterhouse has been turned into an arts and community service center.

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Testaccio is named after the hill in the area--Monte Testaccio. It is also known as Monte di Cocci because the artificial hill was really a landfill dating back to Roman times where broken jugs that were used in transport were tossed after use.

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Our friends Maureen and Franco are hosting a birthday dinner for Diana in their apartment near the Colosseum. We drive over and find a legal parking space a few blocks away. The evening is very pleasant and we hear about their recent trip to eastern Turkey. Maureen makes a pasta dish with fresh fava and pecorino and for the second, chicken breasts with tomatoes. For dessert, we have the pastries that came with Diana's birthday flowers.

The drive home is quick and uneventful....I am really enjoying the experience of driving in Rome and we are getting to see so many parts of the city we have never been to before.

Tomorrow, we are going to meet friends and visit the Non-Catholic cemetery located a few blocks away.

Jim and Diana
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Wednesday, May 15​

Day 17: Rome​

Guess what...another beautiful morning--sunny and warm. After breakfast, we visit the nearby Non-Catholic Cemetery also known as the Protestant cemetery or the English cemetery. The property, in the shadow of the Pyramid of Cestius

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is crowded with graves of many different types in a lush wooded setting.

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We meander along the paths and note all the different religions represented. In addition to Protestant graves, there are many Russian Orthodox headstones marked with this distinctive cross.

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There are many elaborate monuments

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and a sweet one of a young boy sitting cross legged holding a book.

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We come across a couple of Jewish gravestones and Diana places stones on top.

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There is even one marker for a dog named Romeo.

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There are many notables buried in this cemetery...among them the political philosopher Antonio Gramsci

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poets Percy Shelley and John Keats...whose inscription mysteriously doesn't mention his name.

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We are going to meet our friend Simona--whom we knew for many years when she worked at the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo--for lunch near her work in EUR. We had lost touch with her since the hotel closed and the pandemic but I was able to locate her on the internet using my investigative skills. She is as happy to reconnect with us as we were with her and we have a wonderful reunion. It is so nice to have friends to visit during our Italian travels.

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Back in Ostiense, I go out for another walk in a bustling neighborhood across the Tiber but I don't take many pictures. I am startled to see a pack of horses corralled under the Ponte Marconi.

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I will have to do some research to find out what this is all about.

This is a different perspective on the Gazometro, through the iron skeletons of two newer but smaller gas storage structures.

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We have a date to meet another Italian friend, Letizia Mattiaci, who ran an agriturismo and taught cooking classes near Assisi. She has recently moved to Rome and we meet her at a cafe near her apartment in the Appio-Latina section of Rome. This is another neighborhood that is new to us. We spend a very pleasant hour catching up on our lives and talking about Italy and Italian cooking.

We have dinner back in the neighborhood, at the Trattoria Pennestri. The food is delicious but it takes a long time to get it and the service is haphazard. Diana has an onion and cheese crostata to start and I have a small plate of trippa alla Romana. We split a dish of excellent rigatoni alla gricia (pecorino and guanciale) and I have a couple of glasses of local sangiovese. We do have an interesting conversation with the Chinese couple from Beijing seated at the next table.

It's an enjoyable short walk back to the hotel. Tomorrow is our last day in Rome...plans are uncertain.

Jim and Diana
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Thursday, May 16
Day 18: Rome​

Our last day in Rome and the warm and sunny weather streak continues....we have been very lucky with the weather after our first days in Como.

The first stop this morning is the new market in the Testaccio neighborhood. It is a modern, clean complex with underground parking and a mixture of fresh food, restaurants, and stores selling clothes and other goods. The fresh fruit and vegetables, the meat, and the fish stalls are undeniably attractive

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but the overall effect of the market seems too commercial for me. I was taken with the cheesemonger who displays Philadelphia (what the Italians call cream cheese) and Kraft Fettine Classiche (good old sliced American cheese.)

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Next, we go to the Quartiere Coppedè, a section of Rome built in the beginning of the 20th century and described by the official Roma tourism site as "a corner of Rome with unexpected and bizarre features, a fantastic mix of Liberty and Art Decò art, with infiltrations of Greek, Gothic, Baroque, and even medieval art." The neighborhood, named for the architect Gino Coppedè, is a long drive from our hotel so we get the chance to drive through even more previously unknown sections of the city. (I am still enjoying the urban driving experience and am finding Rome not as challenging as one might expect. Take it easy, pay attention, mind the motorcycles passing on your right, and follow your GPS....)

We find a legal parking space but my hunt for a Parcometro to buy a parking ticket fails so we take our chances. The Quartiere Coppedè lives up to its reputation; the buildings are a photographer's paradise--the style, the ornamentation, the whole effect is stunning. I will try to pick a representative sample of my pictures to give you some sense of the place.

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The fountain in the Piazza Mincio is the center of the neighborhood.

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This building is called the Palazzo del Ragno because of the huge spider displayed above the entrance.

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This fantastical building is called the House of the Fairies because of the mix of different architectural styles and its lack of symmetry.

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It also features some ornaments on the side facade paying homage to Florence.

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And another building has an intricate entrance of Moorish design.

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It's a pretty amazing attraction that is far off the main tourist route but well worth the effort.

We drive back across town for lunch at the fish restaurant just down the street from the hotel. The waitress is very friendly and we sit at a table on the street. We split a large dish of fritto misto...very delicately fried seafood--small cod, anchovies, shrimp, and calamari....and drink a "quarto" of crisp white wine. The lemon sorbetto is very refreshing as well. A perfect lunch....

I go out for my last walk in the neighborhood and see some stunning bougainvillea on Monte Testaccio

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some more views of the Tiber,

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and a shot of tourists lined up at the Knights of Malta on the Aventine Hill waiting to see the view of the dome of St. Peter's through the keyhole.

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From the Knights of Malta website

We have our last dinner in Rome with Maureen, Franco, and their neighbors, at Checchino, a long-standing Roman favorite. Lots of antipasti to start...an assortment of bruschette and small dishes of the "quinto quarto" (the fifth quarter of the cow, mostly organ meat) that Franco and I devour. The traditional Roman pasta dishes are great--cacio e pepe, gricia, carbonara, zuppa di ceci--and we eat a lot.

We say our goodbyes to Maureen and Franco

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and walk back to our car on the quirky country lane that circles Monte Testaccio.

Tomorrow we are off to Todi.

Jim and Diana
 
That is a fabulous picture of the four of you.

We've explored that Quartiere Coppedè years ago. An interesting neighborhood. It is good to get out of the historic center and see a few other things.

Horses under that bridge a few days ago - did you find out about that?
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Friday, May 17
Day 19: Rome-Todi​

Sunrise in Rome on our departure day.

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Before checking out of the Gasometer Urban Suites--we have really enjoyed this hotel--the room, the service, and the neighborhood...we have another reunion with one of our friends from the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo. Americo lives close by and we have a chance to catch up with him on his life since the hotel closed. We are very happy to see one another and now that we are reconnected, we make plans to meet again on our next trip to Rome.

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We drive the long way to Todi and take the opportunity to make a return trip to the Farfa Abbey. The abbey is the center of a lovely little village.

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We'd stopped there more than 20 years ago and Diana had bought some dish towels at the local weaver's shop that she really liked. The shop is still there

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but those towels are no longer made. Diana sees some others she likes very much and buys them for gifts.

We have a sandwich sitting in front of the bar under the warm sun in the main (only?) street of the village. Very pleasant....

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We arrive at Todi in the mid-afternoon...the centro storico sits on top of a high hill and access from the one main road is controlled by local police stopping every car. We say we are going to the Hotel Fonte Cesia and we are waved through, but most cars are turned away and directed to one of the parking lots below the town.

Our hotel, the Fonte Cesia, is named for the large fountain situated just below it.

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It is located just steps from the main piazza on the level part of the historic center. We drop off the luggage and one of the hotel staff accompanies me to show me how to get to the hotel parking lot. The lot is only steps away on foot, if you use the stairways that pass for streets in Todi, but a five minute drive by car, going down and around the base of the hill to reach the lot.

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Our room is quite grand...a real contrast to the modern hotel in Rome...and heavily but tastefully decorated with Renaissance designs and paintings. It comes complete with a fireplace and prayer bench and a large terrace with views to the main street and the roofs of Todi.

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From the Fonte Cesia web page

We get settled and I go out for a look at the town. There is a major flower show--an annual event--that has taken over the Piazza del Popolo, the main square

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and there are many people browsing the stalls...flowers, plants, seeds, agricultural tools, plus clothing and gifts...that fill the piazza. There are floral displays everywhere, including a big "bouquet" on the steps leading to the Duomo and others decorating the stairs to the Palazzo del Capitano.

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I pass by the requisite statue of Garibaldi

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on the way to checking out the view of the countryside from "his" piazza.

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The other main church in town is San Fortunato, and the steps are also decorated with flowers.

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Before dinner, we walk over to the main piazza, stroll through the flower show, and have some prosecco at a sidewalk cafe. We have dinner back at the hotel. Although the food is good, the staff very pleasant, and the room quite attractive, the experience is a bit off. Maybe because the portion sizes are so huge that we struggle to finish even half our plates, or maybe because the food comes so quickly...I'm not sure.

Tomorrow, we will drive to some of the places that we went when we stayed in Cannara with our family 11 years ago.

Jim and Diana
 
We leave for our annual visit to Italy two weeks from today, April 28. Our itinerary is shown on the map below.

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1. Como: April 29-May 4
2. Brescia: May 4-7
3. San Quirico d'Orcia: May 7-12
4. Rome: May 12-17
5. Todi: May 17-21
6: Ascoli Piceno: May 21-24
7. Ravenna: May 24-27
8: Malpensa Airport: May 27

We return on May 28.

Thanks to Pauline, I will be posting my daily reports from Italy here.
Been to Italy at least 10 times, and travelled outside the US at least 40 times.

To each is own, but looking at a lake for the same number of days that you are in Rome, seems funny. Also, the town of Como is not one of the nicer, charming towns, like a medieval hill town.

Also, you start north, work your way south, and then go north to go through Milan.

You make a big figure 8, doubling the travel time to get to all the places.
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Saturday, May 18
Day 20: Todi​

Wow...sunny again this morning (but the forecast indicates a chance of rain later). After breakfast in one of the many handsome dining rooms of the hotel, and writing the daily report, we embark on a memory trip in this part of Umbria. We brought the whole family here eleven years ago and stayed in a villa outside of Cannara...just down the road from Todi.

Our first stop is San Terenziano, where eleven years ago, our mostly porchetta-centric family went to the first year of a porchetta festival called Porchettiamo. Now, the festa is in its eleventh year and we are returning. I drop Diana off at the entrance and find a parking space in a nearby neighborhood.

The scene is quite similar to what it was on our first visit....a long row of stalls featuring porchetta from all over Italy, spread out in front of the walls of the old part of town.

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We walk around and I choose the stall from a nearby town--which is the only one with a long line, so perhaps the locals know something.

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We feel a few drops of rain so after I eat my sandwich (excellent)

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I head back to get the car. However, the other porchetta-lovers are not deterred and are enjoying themselves at tables in the piazza.

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Next stop is Cannara and the villa (Fattoria del Gelso) which is just a short walk outside the town. There is no one there when we pull into the driveway so I take a picture

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and we drive into town to the bar, which had a trampoline and other play equipment, where we used to take the grandkids, then aged four, three, and two. The trampoline is no longer there but they have added other kid friendly attractions.

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We enjoy a gelato for old times sake; the sun has re-appeared and it is now a beautiful day.

We make one more stop on the way back to Todi. Our friends Lou (a Hobart classmate) and Mary Kahn have a house near the village of Viepri. They aren't in Italy now but we have directions to the house so we drive deep into the countryside to take a look. Beautiful.

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Back in Todi, I explore another part of the town. I used to think that Urbino or Perugia were the hilliest places we have been to but I believe that Todi may have that distinction. The streets (or stairs) are steep but the views are amazing and I can't stop taking pictures.

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We sit at a different bar on the Piazza del Popolo for an aperitivo and people watch...the flower festival is in full swing.

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We have dinner at the restaurant next door to the hotel, Ristorante Jacopone. The room is attractive, brightly lit, and nicely decorated. The food is mostly fine--we split an excellent beef tartare topped with burrata, I have the local pasta dish--strangozzi with fave and tomatoes. However, Diana's lamb chops (scottadito) are disappointing. We agree that our restaurant experiences so far on this trip have not been consistent...we have had some very good meals, but, on the whole, the food has not been a highlight of the trip, as it has been in the past.

Tomorrow, we will visit Orvieto.

Jim and Diana
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Sunday, May 19
Day 21: Todi​

The sky is overcast this morning for the first time since the beginning of our trip.

Today, we will drive west along the Tiber River to Orvieto. Orvieto is built on top of a high tufa (volcanic rock) bluff and can be seen for miles from many directions. It is a handsome city with a spectacular duomo

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and we have been there many times. Before the city instituted stricter traffic controls, we used to drive all the way into the center, park in a lot in back of the Duomo, have a sandwich at the Cantina Foresi on the Piazza Duomo, walk around for a bit, (once bought some dishes) and get back on the road. Now you park in one of the large lots below the center and take an elevator or escalators to the top. (There's also a funicular at the other end of town.)

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There are many people in the streets on this Sunday as we make our way towards the main square passing many familiar buildings.

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As the Duomo comes into sight

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we realize something is going on. Suddenly, there are repeated bangs from firecrackers and we see smoke rising in front of the Duomo.

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We have happened on the Festa della Palombella (dove), one of Orvieto's biggest celebrations. Dating back hundreds of years, a dove (secure in a plastic case) is sent down a wire towards the main square where a tower representing the Last Supper has been built.

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When the dove reaches the tower, colorful fireworks are set off, the dove is retrieved, and brought over to the city officials in a colorful procession with the Orvietani dressed in traditional costumes.

If the dove is unharmed, it is a good omen for the coming year. The dove is then given to the city's last newlywed couple, for them to take care of during the coming year.

Even though we missed the actual flight of the dove, we are lucky to see another one of those traditional Italian celebrations that are part of local culture and not "made for tourists." The procession after the ceremony leaves the piazza, led by the sounds of horns and drums.

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We want to have lunch at the Cantina Foresi...for old times sake...but they are fully booked

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so we settle for a place across the street...Diana is happy to have a plate of bruschetta doused in delicious olive oil and I have a tasty porchetta sandwich.

We stroll through some quiet back streets on the way to the elevator and head back to Todi. Later in the afternoon, we make a quick visit to the Museo Civico. We breeze through the history part...there are no explanations in English...and selectively view some of the many 16th and 17th century paintings in the collection. A highlight for me is the display of the saddle made for the very pregnant Anita Garibaldi who accompanied her husband on his march across Italy from Rome to Ravenna in 1860. (I had read an account of the march written by Tim Parks who retraced the route and wrote The Heroes' Way about the experience.)

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However, the most fascinating exhibit is a sophisticated audio-visual show about the most famous painting in the museum, The Coronation of the Virgin by the artist known as Lo Spagna.

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The presentation (we chose the English narration) covers the history of Todi and details the development of the painting, with an intricately edited video on multiple screens surrounding the actual painting.

We then sit on the piazza at the "locals bar" and have a glass of prosecco and watch people make their last purchases at the flower show.

Dinner is in a small chef-run restaurant called Enoteca Oberdan. Chef-run means that the owner is the only staff person...she takes orders, cooks, busses tables and then takes your payment when you're done. Luckily, the room is pleasant,

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From the Enoteca Oberdan website

there is a view of the countryside out the window, and nice, quiet jazz is playing in the background.

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The dinner is leisurely...the food is mostly very good. I have an excellent plate of tongue (second time on the trip) with potato salad and a tasty osso bucco. Diana's antipasto of cheese baked with snowpeas (a first for us in Italy) is tasty but a bit strange, but her spaghetti with red onions, sage, and pecorino was delicious. We spend a lot of time marveling at how the owner is able to juggle so many things in the full house and stay calm and gracious.

On the walk back to the hotel, there is a full moon over the church of San Fortunato.

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Tomorrow we will visit Montefalco.

Jim and Diana
 

Zurers in Italy 2024: Monday, May 20​

Day 22: Todi​

It's overcast again for our last day in Todi. Our plan is to drive east to the hill town of Montefalco to revisit the Museo di San Francesco. We had been there on one of our early trips and I remember the museum--housed in a deconsecrated church--with an impressive cycle of frescoes by Bernardo Gozzoli illustrating the life of St. Francis. The ride over is scenic as usual--this area of Umbria may not equal southern Tuscany for vistas--but it is very beautiful. The main difference between the two areas is that Umbria has more heavily forested places which do cut off the views.

Montefalco is a walled city known as the "balcony of Umbria" because of the vistas over the valley, seen from the road that circles the town outside the walls. Today, the views are a bit curtailed because of the clouds and mist.

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We drive through the center to get our bearings...it is a small town...and park just outside the walls. I think the museum has expanded since our visit almost thirty years ago. We walk quickly through the picture gallery to reach the deconsecrated church where the frescoes are. My memory has deceived me...in my mind, all the walls were covered with vivid frescoes. However, what I actually did remember are the frescoes in the apse, which are still very impressive--detailed, colorful, and realistic.

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The rest of the church is more sparsely decorated with lots of empty spaces

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but there are some other frescoes that catch our eye.

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Lucky St. Jerome, accompanied by the lion after he removes a thorn from his paw.

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There is also a museum in the basement devoted to the production of the area's most famous product, Sagrantino wine. The Franciscans from this church were involved in viniculture, hundreds of years ago.

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We have lunch at a restaurant on the piazza--L'Alchimista--which has just been written up in the NY Times as one of the best places to have pasta in Italy. It also offers this view:

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We sit outside and have an excellent meal. We share an unusual dish--red onions parmigiana--which is delicious. And we order the special pasta of the day with the "featured" pasta (strangozzi with garlic and anchovies) which is also excellent. With a couple of glasses of the local wine, and charming staff, it is a great meal.

Back in Todi, I take my last exploration in town, walking to the large church at the bottom of the hill, the Tempio di Santa Maria della Consolazione. I take a short cut, which takes me down a series of long staircases. The building was designed by the famous architect Bramante in a Greek cross style and it is impressive for its size and proportions.

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I walk back up to town on the main road, which is actually an easy climb. I then continue to the top of the town, the Parco della Rocca.

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I am surprised to see, at the top of the hill, an installation of four tall metal structures which are identified as the Todi Columns.

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Belatedly doing some research, I find that this park is also known as the Parco Beverly Pepper. She is a world-famous (though not to us) American sculptor who lived in Todi for fifty years. The park in Todi is an outdoor sculpture gallery filled with twenty of her works. I only saw two others

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From the Beverly Pepper web page

but now I am eager to make a return trip to Todi to see more. I was blown away by this long piece from the NY Times which details her career and influence.

Woman of Steel

For dinner, we walk over to the nearby restaurant Cavour, which has a panoramic view over the valley from its dining area. However, it is challenging to get to...uneven pavement, high steps, etc...so we fortuitously end up in a covered area and stay dry when it starts to lightly rain. The view from our table is fantastic.

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We have a very pleasant light meal...carpaccio and a lemon sorbetto for Diana, gnocchi and panna cotta for me...and have a short walk back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we leave Todi for Ascoli Piceno.

Jim and Diana
 

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