A Travellerspoint blog

Too hot to trot!!

It felt like 41'C....

sunny 41 °C

Where is the shade? We zig zagged back and forth across the street to walk in the shade. First stop was a market in Campio d' Foiri for some delicious oranges from Sicily, on our way to look at a purse I saw while window shopping earlier in the week.

I ended up buying this bag from a little Italian designer who created it right in the shop. When I choose my bag, he sighed, "Ah Bella!"


Our goal was to go see St. Peter's Basillica. I guess that was the goal for many tourists in the blazing heat today. Thank goodness we had frozen water bottles. Tactical error #1 and I knew better - come prepared for a sacred place of worship by dressing conservatively. Knees and shoulders need to be covered or you will not be allowed in. Error#2- leave shawl for shoulders at home and don't buy one as we waited in line. Dave managed to slip by the guards even though his shorts didn't cover his knees. I guess hairy legs work!

I can solve this problem. Use the paper stuffing from the bag I bought. I fashioned a shawl out of lovely white newsprint which worked for my shoulders but I just couldn't sneak by with enough to cover my knees. I headed back into the scorching heat to buy a scarf from the gypsies. How dumb could I be?

So we finally make it into this beautiful Basillica for a look around. We walked home in the heat for a rest and to escape the high temperatures. Dave was finally happy to have a break and get an afternoon nap, after having gelato first!


We decided to spend the evening in Monti, a hilly area close to the Colisseum. Very eclectic shops and narrow streets much like in Trastevere. It was an adventure all in itself just getting there? We decided to take the bus and but since it was five o'clock, so was everyone else. By the time we reached our stop ( how we managed to get off the bus, I have no idea), we were jammed in like sardines. A man, his daughter and I had a good chuckle when I told Dave we should get off before the end of the line. We couldn't move, let alone make our way off the bus. That was an experience!!


Later that night, using our excellent mapping skills, we managed to make it home without getting lost. We found the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon along the way. Just a fluke!! Such a nice way to end our stay in Rome. The last few photos are from the area we stayed, Trastevere including a young woman on her graduation.

This is the via that are apartment was on.


Arrevederci Italy.


Posted by beachbuddies 12:25 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

A cooking class in the country....

Making pasta in Toffia

sunny 33 °C
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Sally met us at the Fara Sabina train station, which is an hour out of Rome, for the start of our cooking adventure. She drove us up into the hills to Toffia where she lives with her husband Guido, who taught us the fine art of making pasta. We had a tour of the medieval hilltop village of Toffia and we were able wind our way over the cobbled streets to their family home within the historic walls.


Our first stop was to a herb garden , that Sally tends, to pick fresh herbs for our class. We would need rosemary, giant sage, and bay leaves.


The fresh pasta was really simple to make but practice, a large wooden board and extra long rolling pin, make the task easier. Pasta has only two ingredients eggs and flour. We learned how to roll it thin, use cornmeal to prevent it from sticking, and how to cut up the thin strips of tagliatelle. Guido learned to make pasta from the old ladies in the village.


Next the sauce, Ragu' al Pomodoro. You need a couple of carrots and celery, half an onion, and garlic in its jacket, bruised not chopped up, and a couple of bay leaves. Cook that up with LOTS of olive oil from Sabina, then add the meat, tomatoes and passata.

Short pastry was next, in order to create our Torta di Ricotta ala Romana, Guido's grandmother's recipe. The Italian version of cheesecake using ricotta, cherries and chopped up chocolate. Anything made with chocolate must be good, and it was yummy!


The meat dish we made was called saltimbocca alla romana with an orange twist. It used the giant sage leaves we picked earlier, plus thinly sliced veal and proscuiito.



We enjoyed our lunch with local wines in the home's 1500's renovated taverna ( large wine cellar). After lunch we walked back through Toffia and drove to the (originally 5th century) monastic village of Farfa for a very informal tour before returning to the local train station. This unspoilt region really is magical and we loved having a chance to spend the day there.


This is the linen shop where the Pope's linens are woven

The evening led us into the Jewish quarter. It was filled with beautiful building and ruins older than the Coliseum. We had never walked in this area before and found a fountain with little boys and turtles in a quaint piazza. Another pretty perfect day!


Posted by beachbuddies 14:03 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Where in Rome.....

Can you find San Giovanni in Lateranno?

sunny 32 °C
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After taking many wrong turns, buying a good map, and walking two extra hours, we finally found San Giovanni in Lateranno, the mother church. The best thing we could have done was go the opposite direction that Dave suggested.

Being lost today gave us a chance to have a delicious cappuccino, buy fresh peaches and tomatoes, and visit Roman baths near Anica Appia. We found beautiful gardens, flowers and watched a little Italian boy with his grandfather.


The church and cloisters were stunningly beautiful. We saw the door that the Pope only opens once a year on December 25th, to welcome in the new church year. We saw a special chapel that only the Pope uses, which was behind plexi glass and an iron gate. I love all the angel carvings in the ceilings. Dave liked the ceiling and the alter. In the cloister, we saw the slab of marble that the Romans threw dice on to determine who would get Jesus' clothes before he was crucified. There were also four marble pillars indicating how tall Jesus was, which is the same height as Dave. I don't know how they know this but that is what the audio guide told us.


Dave admitted more than three times, "Yes, Jude you were RIGHT!" Of course, who doesn't like hearing that? We decided to walk back past the Colosseum back to our apartment, stopping for gelato along the way.


Dinner was delicious once again. As Tone says, " Us Italians know our food!"
Dave had porcini mushroom risotto and I ad the special pasta with lobster. Divine!!


After dinner we went to Dave's favorite piazza, Navona. We enjoyed seeing all the artists, sitting by the fountain and watching all the people. It was time go and Dave confidently declared, "Its definitely that way!" I didn't think to question his knowledge but based on today's poor navigational skills, I should have! We ended up six bridges farther down the river than we planned because we walked in the wrong direction leaving the piazza. We arrived home with sore feet!


Posted by beachbuddies 05:36 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Our first night in Rome

Behind on the blog....no time to rest in Rome....

sunny 34 °C
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After settling into our apartment, having gelato, getting some groceries and a little snack, we were off to explore Rome on Sunday night. We had no plan but ended up walking up the hill behind where we are staying in Trastevere, to a place called called Gianicolo Park. It is high on the hill which gave us a nice view our first night in Rome.

This photo was taken for Amanda. A children's paediatric hospital.

By the time we rambled back down the hill, we were on perfect Italian time for dinner. We chose this cute place and as it turned out it was local spot with excellent food. I went out on a limb and had swordfish. Soooo delicious!!


Posted by beachbuddies 15:29 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

A Taste of Bologna

sunny 30 °C
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On Friday night we went to an open air dining experience. Kind of like a picnic in the street. Tables are set up in the street and you can purchase food, including assorted meat & cheese, fresh fruit and mozzarella & tomatoes. People sat everywhere they could. Once the tables were full, people sat wherever they could find a space. We squeezed into a space on the steps to enjoy our food. There was a live band playing and friends gathered to enjoy themselves. It was mainly local people from Bologna.


On Saturday, many of the streets are closed to traffic which makes it nice to wander around. A stroll, a climb, some shopping and a gelato.....a perfect morning.


The Two Towers, both of them leaning, are the symbol of Bologna, Italy, and the most promient of the Towers of Bologna. They are located at the intersection of the roads that lead to the five gates of the old ring wall (mura dei torresotti). The taller one is called the Asinelli while the smaller but more leaning tower is called the Garisenda. Their names derive from the families which are traditionally credited for their construction between 1109 and 1119. During during the Middle Ages, Bologna's weathly families used to compete with each other on the size of their towers, and there were about 100 originally, though now only about 30 remain.

We decided to climb the 498 steps on a day with 94% humidity. Everyone who climbed to the top were dripping when they reached the top but the view was worth it, and the breeze quickly cooled us off. We were rewarded with a spectacular photo op of Bologna.


There is a blank and anonymous piece of wall. In the middle of the wall is a frameless window, two feet square. Through the window you have a sight of the Bologna that once was – tall houses on each side, backing onto a canal. Over 500 years ago, Bologna was connected by water to the Adriatic Sea and had canals very similar to Venice.


Our last night in Bologna included a special dinner at a local trattoria that Roberta suggested. The girl that served us spoke very good english and made the night enjoyable. The food was again excellent!! We strolled to piazza maggorie and we watched the beginning of a black and white movie, Trouble in Paradise, with Italian subtitles. A very large movie screen has been set up in the piazza for all of July, playing a different movie each night. The piazza was filled with families and friends.


arrivederci Bologna


Posted by beachbuddies 13:38 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

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