Rocca di Papa

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    • Day 4

      Über Pisa nach Rom - Rocca di Papa

      April 3 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

      Der schiefe Turm von Pisa und seine gotische Kathedrale sind perfekt restauriert. Ursprünglich als Glockenturm für den Dom gedacht, der dazumal bereits fast fertig war, mehrheitlich aus Carrara-Marmor, doch versehentlich auf Schlammboden gebaut, wollte einfach nicht gerade stehen bleiben. Eigentlich sollte der Turm 100 m hoch werden, wurde dann jedoch nur 54 m hoch und trotz Schieflage weitergebaut. Nach unserer ausführlichen Begutachtung gab es erstmal Spaghettis/Raviolis zur Stärkung.
      Heute Abend wollen wir in "Rocca di Papa" sein und entscheiden uns gegen den Highway und für die Küstenstrasse, die sich entlang des Tyrrhenischen Meeres, über Livorno, Grosseto und Civitacecchia, nach Rom schlängelt. So erhielten wir wunderschöne Impressionen der Flora und Fauna entlang der Küste. Papa di Rocca ist ein kleiner Ort auf einem der 7 Hügel Roms mit herrlichem Blick auf die Stadt selbst. Unser kleines Häuschen ähnelt einer schweizer Berghütte....
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    • Day 66

      Contemporary 'Cowboys'

      November 8, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

      A slightly frantic start as we jumped on to the train to Castel Gandolfo (where we were to meet our guide) with just 5 minutes to spare. However, sitting idly 5 minutes after the train was supposed to leave, we realized that Radi's instinct to head up to the front carriages had been right. The train had left without us (note: we weren't the only ones caught out). Oops. We managed to sort a slightly later train to Frascati for an alternative meeting point. Phew. Train runs parallel to an old Roman aqueduct for a while - cool.

      Matteo met us there and drove us around, explaining as he went. Saw some beautiful mountainside villages and lakes (formed from the caldera of an ice age volcano).

      Stopped at a "bar" (cafe where you generally stand at the counter to eat and drink). Had an espresso and americano and wild strawberry custard tarts. Delicious. Like so so so good. Custard was light and soft and the strawberries were small, tart and sweet.

      Arrived at the farm and had a slice or two of plain pizza bianca (olive oil) and pizza rossa (tomato sauce).

      Met Alberto (the horse whisperer) who explained the philosophy of what they did with their work on the farm. The horses at the farm are rescues (horses that are seen to have 'outlived their use' by their previous owners and sent off for slaughter). Was incredibly sad hearing some of the stories of the rescues, and the hard isolated lives they'd lived before.

      They slowly rehabilitate the horses, and help them readjust to being a horse again (vs a worker). The horses are integrated back into clans (very important with them being social creatures). Learning about clan dynamics was really interesting - and not at all we'd thought.

      They also involve adults with disabilities to help around the farm, to provide a different experience from what can otherwise be a monotonous life stuck at home for them (government funding to the families cuts off at 18).

      We started by going out and meeting the herd, as Alberto pointed out the body language of the horses and what they were communicating. Was really interesting having the experience on the horses' time, not ours. We stood still chatting, and various horses would come up to meet us (or ignore us as they chose). Frida, a 3 year old sweet tempered horse that was born on their farm, was the first to do so. They were so beautiful and gentle.

      A fence needed mended (to protect the neighbour's broccoli) so we pitched in and left it looking in better shape. Then we stopped for lunch - home made meal of mushroom pasta, scarola with onions and grapes, red and white wine, more plain pizza, bread and apple pie & coffee. Delicious.

      After lunch we sat in the sun and chatted while having some dog cuddles and then got suited up for riding (helmet and boots). Alberto led Wade on Cheyenne and Matteo led Radi on Frida.

      Rode through a forest and saw a couple of wild bulls... bit scary. Further along we saw some 'wild' horses (in the sense that their owner simply lets them roam everywhere as it doesn't matter if one or two get eaten by wolves as they're only getting raised for meat anyway... depressing). Apparently some south Italians eat horse meat as a delicacy so there's a fair amount of mistreatment of animals and other sad things.

      Crossed a mole field and saw another forest that will be felled next week (sad face). Definitely liking NZ's laws and attitudes towards nature reserves! The woods were so beautiful and peaceful. The horse ride, magical.

      Once we arrived back, had a cup of tea and a few more cheeky slices of apple pie and plain pizza, then it was to the Castel Gondolfo station to successfully catch the train this time. Chatted to a very entertaining lady from Texas and her friend from Rome. Had a good chat about travel and food.

      At the station we said our goodbyes and went around the corner to Mercato Centrale. It's a food court where the best chefs in Rome were invited to have little shops. Was trendy and more importantly delicious (while being reasonable). Tonight was its first birthday so there were free samples and free wine. 

      Tried some pasta, red wine and arancini (deep fried risotto balls). And purchased and ate some margarita pizza, a big arancino and some tiramisù. Tiramisù aside (very average) it was all really good. Then home to pack!

      Overall we would really recommend the horses experience (called Contemporary Buttero), and it was great getting out of the city even for a day. Was good to see and hear about real life in the country. And we will certainly keep what we learned and experienced in mind when we next interact with or see horses. Was seriously an incredible experience.
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