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Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Philadelphia...
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Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Well, here we are... back home after two weeks in Rome (including a two day side trip to Orvieto) and we had a great time. We did many of the things we wanted though many others will have to wait 'til next time. We averaged a little over 9 miles a day walking and used the Metro, trains, buses and cabs. We celebrated my dear wife's birthday and our 20th anniversary... made new friends, received TWO pairs of paper pants... We bought souvenirs and gifts for folks back home and managed it all with carry on baggage.

Within this thread I'll talk about a lot of things we noticed about Rome on this trip (our 5th to the Eternal City)... some concerns and cares, but mostly about joy and beauty of this vibrant city.

Today I need to deal with client demands and jet lag, but over the next days, as pictures are sorted and I have time to post, I will share our trip with all of you who helped me plan it. Let me again thank you all for your help in making this trip to Rome very, very special!

:-)'

Philadelphia...
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21. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Sorry... I was out for the weekend bringing our dog back from his vacation in New Hampshire while we were away... I'll get to work now for TAB!

Cowra, Australia
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22. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Awesome memories Mike & Debby!!

You have described Rome so much better than I could have.

I'm still on my adventure - arrived in Munich today to snow falling.

I will do my trip reports when I'm home in a week or so.

The highlight for me apart from seeing all the fabulous monuments was meeting a great group of people that included yourselves, Clare, Daniella and Cinsia.

Trip Advisor is not just for seeking advice on travel plans, it is also a great form of "social networking". We should all take advantage of that !!

Di :-)

Dallas, Texas
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23. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Just wanted to add my praise for your writing style. You really know how to paint a picture. I can still see your Birds of rome ascending into the skies.

Glad you made it back safe & sound.

Michelle

Philadelphia...
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24. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

A TRIP TO ORVIETO (here you go TAB!)

We had many day trip possibilities on this vacation but didn’t really spend much time away from Rome, with one exception… Orvieto. I must apologize in advance for the long-winded nature of this part of the report and it’s “I did this… then I did that” writing style… I am at a loss for a better approach to this particular part of our story…

I had checked TA for lodging options beforehand and had narrowed it down to two B&B’s in the historic (as opposed to the modern) town. I had hoped to make a reservation before we arrived but recent wet weather had made us unsure of when we’d visit. So when the weather was perfect that morning I went to arrange a room online. Unfortunately, the internet connection at a portal on Via Vittorio Emanuel II was running very slow (my regular places weren’t open yet) and I eventually gave up and figured that we’d just show up and find a room on arrival. We grabbed a bus up to Termini and bought tickets for the next available train, a more expensive but faster IC train. (For the less expensive train take the local… 2nd class tickets are 7 Euro). An hour later the train pulled up at the Orvieto station. It was a beautiful day and we crossed the street to the funicular that climbs up to the hill town. (Your option is to take a bus to the Duomo) Note that the price of the funicular ticket includes a bus ride to the Duomo but we thought we’d walk the rest of the way so that we could get a feel for the place and maybe find a room on the way.

We purchased a map from the souvenir stand for 3 Euros (FYI…free maps that were every bit as useful turned up at the information center across from the Duomo later) and headed up the hill. We somehow missed the famous well nearby the funicular station but it was to the right and down a short walk as you exit the station.

On the way up we stopped at a few ceramics shops to get a sense of the types of work available locally. I have a collection of plates, vases, jars and other odds and ends of Italian majolica that we have picked up on other trips and I was hoping we’d find something here as well. The ceramics are beautiful and many shops included free shipping to home in the price.

When we reached the top we decided to look up the B&B’s and walked to the far end of town in the process. The views out over the new city and countryside are nothing short of phenomenal. I’m very used to spectacular views in the U.S. (looking over wilderness) but the Italian countryside of Orvieto is (for the most part) so groomed… each plant placed with care and each plot planted as if for my benefit high up on that wall looking down. I would not be surprised if the local council has worked with land owners to keep these views pristine. In fact, much about Orvieto felt very controlled after the lovely chaos of Rome.

Neither B&B had a room so we went back to the Information center across from the Duomo and got a list of hotels. The nearest one didn’t have a room but they very kindly made some calls and found two places for us that had rooms available, both for $90 per night, so off we went. We checked in to Albergo Filippeschi (via Filippeschi, 19), cleaned up and headed out for a glass of wine. The afternoon siesta was just ending (4:30 pm) and shops were re-opening so we window shopped on the way to the wine bar. The local Orvieto Classico wine is white and I encourage you to try it… we drink red though and the waiter suggested a Silentis that was just perfect! The wine arrived with some bruschetta nibblers so we sat and watched the afternoon tour bus folk march down to the Duomo for their departure.

We continued our tour, taking many photos and walking the picturesque streets through sunset. There is little in Orvieto that is not well maintained, recently rehabbed or is being currently rehabbed. The work done has been to exacting detail that leads me to believe that the local building code is very, very strict… downspouts, gutters and flashing all gleaming copper… hand hewn beams and stonework, tile roofs and perfect cobble paved streets. There is serious money here and a real understanding of what is important in the health and well being of an historic hill town. There was no graffiti that I noticed, no dog messes on the streets, public bathrooms were convenient, spacious and extremely clean and toilets had seats.

Debby had seen a restaurant on our walk that caught her eye, the Tipica Trattoria Etrusca (Via Lorenzo Maitani, 10), and so we found ourselves there at 9 p.m. seated in the front dining room. The service here was a little funny really… every action presented with a flourish, from the decanting and swirling of the house red wine (decent if not inspirational after the Silentis) to the serving of courses (each wheeled out on it’s own special cart.. what we called “the amazing carts!”). Debby had cinghale (wild boar), I had papparadella with a rabbit ragu and we shared ceci (chick peas) served in oil with a lovely (almost lemony) bright flavored herb that the waiter called something like “berselmo”. I finished with an excellent grappa, a recommendation of our waiter, that was unlike any I’d ever had. It was a sweet grappa with a fruity, slightly perfume-y quality and it was excellent, as was all the food we ate in Orvieto.

In the back room a large group of older American tourists were finishing their meal and the wine had gone to their heads. The waiters took them on a tour, down into the carved rock wine celler and the laughter and revelry grew louder and more reverberent, leading Debby to christen the celler “the giggle well”… the rather somber table near us looked on in disgust and it was hard to hold back laughter at either them or the drunk Americans. We called for the check and headed home.

It had been a long day and we walked back to the hotel tired after 13 miles of walking, our longest mileage of the trip.

The next morning we checked-out of our comfortable and clean hotel, went for cappuccino, had the local gelato as a mid morning snack and toured the Pozza della Cava; the old cellers and wells carved from the tuffa rock. We visited the Gothic Duomo with its’ impressive carvings and mosaics on the exterior, and inside; frescoes by Fra Angelico and Signorelli’s “Last Judgement”… fantastic!

We lunched at Vinosus (Piazza Duomo, 15). Debby had the goat cheese topped with sesame and poppy seeds served over greens and I had the fettucini (freshly made) with pesto and green beans… both were wonderful.

After lunch we went to the Museo Claudio Faino to see the Etruscan artifacts and collection of Roman and Etruscan coinage, both worthwhile to an enthusiast but perhaps not as impressive as other collections we have seen in larger museums in Rome.

Siesta was starting and Orvieto was beginning it’s afternoon nap so we wandered down the hill looking at ceramics (purchasing a few small pieces to carry back), taking pictures, having another wine along the way before stopping by the famous well (it was closed by that time) then taking the funicular down to the train back to Rome.

It was a wonderful time, a perfect side trip and light distraction from our time in Rome. I think it would be perfect for those who find Rome overwhelming or think she is too crowded, too dirty, too noisy (all the stuff I love about bustling Roma!) and it certainly was a nice mid-trip break for us. While it would be too sedate for me to stay there for any length of time I could see how it would be a perfect base for a tour of Umbria.

coxs creek, kentucky
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25. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Wonderful and well worth the wait ! And I am so happy that you chose to go to Orvieto. It sounds like you enjoyed your time there immensely. As usual though, after reading a part of your story, I wish even more that the two of you could have spent more time in Italy. Italy suits you well, brings out the depth of your character, while you two suit Italy well, respecting her for what she is. A good pairing.

Thank you and I will wait for more.

DFW
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26. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Can someone please tell me what a "funicular" is?

New York, NY
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27. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Leaving to go Rome first week of December with my boyfriend for first time. (He has been everywhere else but Rome) I have not been since 1999 (was much more favorable to $USD back then. Looking for moderate priced hotels in area of Vatican or Piazza Navona. Looking for safe, clean, non-smokig, breakfast included. Would appreciate hotel and restaurant suggestions. His family is from Roccarosa so going to attempt to take train and get there one day. Thank you.

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28. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Thank you, thank you, thank you, EC. Once again a wonderful telling of your experience.

I'll send you my notes to "ghost write" ;^)

TAB

Dublin
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29. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

That was absolutely beautiful Eternal! And Witty put my feelings into words exactly! Do you know I had never seen Orvieto in the way you saw it, for me it was just a place, a lovely place, to visit with the kids on a Sunday. Oh well ....perhaps it's 'neglect' of the familiar??

Philadelphia...
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30. Re: Back from Rome Oct 2 - Oct 16

Tinealau,

The funicular railcars take passengers up the steep hillside into the old city and back down again. It's a cable car system that uses the weight of the car coming down to help pull the other car up the hill. It's quite nice and, if it's not too crowded, I think the best way to enter Orvieto.

Thanks everyone for your generous comments.

Sayanything, have you looked through the "Rome Hotels" link onthe left hand side of the TA screen? Lot's of suggestions there.