What’s not to like about travel - good for the heart, mind and soul.
  • Day78

    Rome Day 5

    November 18, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Last full day I’m Rome and the sun is trying to come out and say goodbye to us. We have tickets to the Vatican and Sistine Chappel for 1 pm. Anne went out for a bit of shopping while Carl and I had a rest. Had lunch then headed off - the Vatican is only 2 metro stops from us.

    The Vatican museum is huge with artefacts from all over the world. There are floors after floors - we had a 3 hours or so but you could easily spend a 3 days or more. It makes you wonder how much of the collection was “appropriated”.

    The Sistine Chapel is not huge, but the paintings are just special and the Michelangelo ceiling is in a class of its own. Pity no photography allowed. The Chapel gets 5 million visitors a year - most of them were here today.

    The line up to go into the Vatican itself was hundreds of metres long, in the rain. It was getting late afternoon so we decided not to go in. A good excuse for Carl to come back to visit Rome.

    Back to the apartment. No McDonald’s for dinner tonight, but the trade-off is Anne is cooking. Beautiful dinner and the best we’ve had in Italy!!!!

    I need to be rested for the drive to Florence tomorrow. It’s not to far but it does mean tackling Rome’s traffic again.
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  • Day77

    Rome Day 4

    November 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Another wet day as we headed off at 10.30 - we’re getting later and later. Again into Rome central (we’re staying close to the Vatican so it’s a pretty short trip by metro that is only about a 10/15 minute walk for us). Went to Piazza Navona and down into the museum. We made our way towards the river then onto the Vatican - we’re actually going into the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel tomorrow.

    We had a look at a couple of other churches and I warned Carl that going through churches, basilicas and cathedrals, Every Single Day, would become a very common theme for him. I think he finally worked out that this was a cost-effective way of looking at “old” stuff. He will be quite religious by the time he gets home.

    Headed home (in the rain) via McDonalds. According to Carl (he apparently heard it on the news - who knew he could speak fluent Italian🤷‍♂️) the strike was over☹️.

    I think we have walked well over 650 kms to date and my shoes are falling apart - used one of Anne’s hair-ties to hold the sole on, it’s working but Anne’s hair looks a mess!!!!!

    When we got back I went out and got a hair cut and a shave - with a cutthroat razor - smooth😂. The barber told me not to move as the razor is very very sharp - I moved and he was very very right.

    The barber also asked if I wanted my ears done? - hmmm, okay. Damn it hurt. You have probably seen women get there eyebrows plucked by threading. Well he did that to my ears and it hurt 😢 a lot. Note to self - next time make sure you understand the question🤓.

    Out for an Italian dinner - somehow have to get rid of the McDonalds taste.
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  • Day76

    Rome Day 3

    November 16, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Carl’s up early but those of us who aren’t jet-lagged decide to sleep-in. We finally got up and headed out buying 3 day Rome transport tickets 🎫 . Made our way back into the city/colosseum area. This time we had a look at the Forum, Palatine Hill and the Palace ruins - all pretty fabulous to look at and think about.

    We had a late but very nice lunch at an Italian place. I told Carl and Anne that McDonald restaurants were all closed due to a worker’s strike (easy to believe - only the French like to go out on strike more than Italians).

    Looks like the rain is returning (and it’s pretty cold) so we decide to head home.

    A relatively short but good day.
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  • Day75

    Rome Day 2

    November 15, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Up really early today (well before 6 am). Thought, why don’t we go out to the international airport for a look around? - airports are such great tourist sites!!!). We found an airport shuttle stop that was only 10 minutes away, though we did get lost walking there.

    So, there we were having a look around and as we walked past the arrivals door I had to do a double-take - who’s was that familiar, if a little tired looking, face we spotted? Wow 😮 it’s Carl!!!! Carl has flown over for the last 3 weeks or so of the European leg of our trip. It’s fantastic that he could come over.

    Back to the apartment but no rest for the jet-lagged. Carl has a shower then we head out in quite miserable rainy weather. As the saying goes “when in Rome...” so we took the metro to have a look at the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps then off to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It is a ruin, but it’s a pretty special ruin and even in wet weather we were among the thousands there to have a look around. We really only had time to look at the Colosseum so we’ll back back tomorrow for the rest.

    Had the pleasure of again being fleeced (this time €20) for 3 leather bracelets sold to us by a gentleman saving up to visit his newly born daughter in Guyana. He even showed us a phone pic (although I’m pretty sure I saw a “shutter stock” watermark on the photo). The only saving grace was that Carl paid for them!!!!!!!

    Someone, anyone, shoot me. On the way back to the apartment we stopped at McDonalds. We’re in one of the food capitals of the world and we go to McDonalds 🙄.

    Relatively early night - especially for Carl (a 28 hour flight then 5 hours walking around Rome).
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  • Day74

    Citta di Castello to Rome

    November 14, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Had breakfast at the hotel then headed off (not sunny but not raining 😁) through the region of Umbria to Rome. What a magnificent drive - green hills and tall mountains littered with quaint towns, churches and castles (and lots of olive groves) - just magic.

    Stopped off at a small town for lunch - got served by a nasty woman who, I’m guessing, didn’t take to strangers (why else was she nice to everyone else?). She got a one ⭐️ google review!!!

    Rome traffic - it was as bad as I expected and to top it off the GPS wouldn’t take us to the Airbnb we booked. Eventually I double-parked and put my hazard lights on (as I’ve said before, hazard lights flashing cure all driving evils) and sent Anne out on foot to find where we had to go. She was gone ages - I’m thinking I’ve lost Anne and still don’t have a place to stay tonight. Eventually we got there - a ground floor two bedroom apartment in a gated community (off street secure parking), too good to be true, but true it was). The place was perfect. The area is full of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores with a handy metro close by.

    Time to de-stress after driving in Rome.

    Tomorrow some exploring.
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  • Day73

    Bologna to Citta di castello

    November 13, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    We’re heading to Rome and Città Di Castello (City of the Castle) is an overnight stop on the way. We stopped at a small village, for a coffee, and found a parking spot but it was only for a maximum of 30 minutes. I asked a local who said “if you get a ticket frame it - it’ll be the only one ever issued in this town”. I really did expect a ticket on our return (nearly bought a frame) but none!!!

    We got to Città Di Castello mid-afternoon and really weren’t expecting much - just somewhere to stay overnight. Wow were we, once again, surprised. Really nice (and cheap hotel) and the town looks like something out of a storybook (complete with fortified wall). Beautiful streets, the castle and 2 very old magnificently maintained churches. I climbed the cathedral tower and the views of the town were fantastic.

    We stopped in at the cathedral and listened to musicians rehearsing for a mass. We came back later in the evening and it looked like a bishop was giving the service, and there must have been more than a thousand people crammed in side.

    Like many European towns (and some cities) the place shuts down for 2 or 3 hours after lunch (eat and a siesta - something I think would go well back home). But, they then reopen until 8pm or later. By 3.30 pm the main square was completely full of families - not sure where they all came from.

    We stopped in at a restaurant, around 7 pm, for dinner. Even though the place was empty (looked like they could sit at least 50 people) they said they couldn’t fit us in unless we were happy to eat now and be out by, say, 8.30 pm. Italians like to eat late, and take a long time doing it!!!! Another really good meal (lucky we’re averaging about 10 kms a day walking).

    I liked the place so much I tried to convince Anne to sell up and move here 😁.

    Tomorrow my Italian driving skills will be tested - we’re staying at an apartment in inner Rome. I’ve been practicing my gesticulating, horn honking and swearing (and my apologising to other motorists). I’ll need a good sleep......
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  • Day72

    Bolonga italy

    November 12, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    Today we’re off to Bologna (home of Bolognese sauce). We left reasonably early as Pio is off to help butcher the 13 wild boars the hunting club killed over the weekend - apparently they are a real pest, do a lot of damage to local farms, so it’s a “community service”. We’re staying in the heart of the city (in yet another pedestrian area and have to drive amongst people through tiny cobble stone streets). I must be getting used to this so just drive the Italian way - honk and if they don’t get out of the way honk the horn again (louder and longer whilst gesticulating wildly) and swear!!!!. Lucky we reserved parking at the hotel - the garage is tiny fitting only 2 cars. Lucky it was empty when we parked, and I have no idea how they will get another car in there.

    After booking in we headed out, in pouring rain, for a late lunch and to explore. It’s a beautiful old city with lots of history (and the usual churches/cathedrals and towers).

    For dinner, on the recommendation of one of my cousins, I had a spaghetti bolognese that I have to say was better then any I’ve had before.

    Boy it rained on the way back to the hotel.
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  • Day71

    Pio's place at Asti

    November 11, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 6 °C

    We’re staying with Pio tonight before heading to Bologna tomorrow. His house is (beautiful and located at the edge of Asti) is built on 3 levels (the bottom built into the ground includes two “Salas” (dining/entertaining rooms - each with a fireplace/BBQ). We got there at 3.30 pm and sat around the kitchen table talking right through until 10.30 pm (Pio managed to cook us a great dinner at the same time). I have to mention dinner - Anne went right out of her comfort-zone and ate agnolotti made with donkey meat!!!! She probably won’t ever have it again, but said it was fine😁. Anne said the home made wine was also very good. Cheese and honey for desert - I think we’ll bring that idea back home with us.

    A really really nice day with a really really nice and generous host.

    Tomorrow we head to Bologna.
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  • Day70

    Castell'Afero Day 5

    November 10, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Today we caught up with another lot of relatives - we went to my cousin Pio’s house for lunch with another 14 relatives. We had an absolutely fantastic time - these people are very welcoming and simply opened their hearts to us. Only a couple of them speak some English, but everyone made sure Anne was included. We had appetisers and drinks (in front of a fireplace) then moved to another room (also with a fireplace) for the main lunch - and more drinks. Pio did most of the cooking for a 4 course meal that wouldn’t have been out of place in a very high class restaurant (he used to be a partner in one of Asti’s best restaurants/hotels). Pio belongs to a hunting club and one of the dishes was a wild boar from a hunt). Italians love to eat, drink good wine and talk (energetically and loudly) - we didn’t leave until 5.30pm.

    It really was a fantastic day - had toast for dinner (and even that was too much).
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  • Day69

    Castell'Alfero Day 4

    November 9, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Today we’re off to the town of Pontestura to spend a couple of hours, over a coffee, with some relatives. We got to Antonella’s place around 10 am. When I rang her, a couple of days ago to arrange, she asked if we wanted to stay for lunch. I had said we were a bit short on time and a morning coffee would be best. Her mum, brother and a couple of other cousins were there to see the relatives from Australia. It was a really good visit and we got to talk about family etc. Morning tea (sweet breads, biscuits, pastries, cheese, 5 types of ham and a heap of other food) would have fed a small army. We were still there talking and eating at 1.30 that afternoon - Italians are extremely welcoming (and in reality got us for lunch!!!!!!!!!). We were told the story of when my mum and Belinda (my niece) visited a few years ago. They toured Turin and the area showing them around and eventually ran out of sights to see. Not wanting to end the tripping around, and a bit desperate for what else to show them, they took my niece and my mum to the “red light” district in Turin. Apparently Antonella’s mum was horrified, but my mum enjoyed it (though she never told us about it when she got home 😛).

    For dinner we walked to the Osteria for some local cuisine. Mum and daughter cook and dad is the waiter and runs the bar - the place is what you would imagine a little family run Italian restaurant would be like.You get a small choice of appetisers, first plates, second plates and desserts all on a hand written menu. I had 4 dishes and whist Anne only had 3, she made up for that with a copious amount of wines and two moscatos (the walk back down the hill was quite an adventure for her). The dinner, in a building that used to be a horse stable (which in the middle of the dinning room floor was still the old water-well that was now covered with strong glass you could walk on) was really very very good. The atmosphere, service and food is what you would expect at a very classy ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ restaurant.

    A really enjoyable day.
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