Thursday, September 20, 2012

Under the Tuscan Sun

It has been a couple of days longer than i expected since our last post, but as it turned out we got to the internet cafe just after closing on our final night in Rome and there is no internet in Gubbio.

Our final full day in Rome was lovely and leisurely. Having seen most of the big sights we had on our lists, we were free to wander at leisure. We visited the Castel Sant Angelo, walked through the Jewish Ghetto area, past yet more ancient ruins and through more churches than i can keep track of. We walked to the Spanish Steps which were picturesque, but the area was not really our scene as it was more of a high end shopping district. We visited the Piazza del Popolo and had a lovely lunch of zucchini, caccio e pepe, and wine which was awesome. In the evening we went back to Il Campo and ate and drank on the square. There is a bar/eatery on the corner where for 10e you can have a cocktail and all you can eat appetizers. It was a great deal and we ate our fill while i enjoyed an obscenely large cigar.

Italy is proving to be a great smoking place. Everyone smokes cigarettes and a few people smoke cigars (well, cheroots really). You can not smoke indoors but outside it is encouraged. On patios, while riding vespas, while shopping for vegetables.... I feel quite at home here in that regard.

Yesterday morning we took a train from Rome to Fossato del Vico, which is a train station in the middle of nowhere where we caught a bus to our second destination: Gubbio. Gubbio is a tiny medieval town in the hills of Umbria. It is extremely picturesque, nestled within its stone walls. We arrived at our hotel and found it locked, but a waiter from a restaurant across the street yelled down the street and the proprietor came and let us in to our room.  Gubbio was quiet - very quiet - particuarly after the bustle of Rome. We walked the city and visited its few churches and squares, including the Fountain of Lunatics, before walking to the destination about which i was very excited: the open air funicular. There is essentially a cable car ascending up a mountainside, but what sets it apart is that you ride up in a cage - or more like a small metal basket. If you are afraid of heights it would be torture, but i found it delightful and it afforded me exquisite views of the town. (Betty Lou wisely waited at the bottom.) At the top was a simple church.

Shortly after our wander it grew dark and began to pour, which caused many shops and restaurants to close early. We stopped into a charming corner grocer and picked up bread, cheese, and a jar of black truffle and olive tapanade and ate in our room.

This morning, after breakfast and under a newly brightened sky we caught a bus to Perugia, which took us through a lovely, pastoral backdrop. From Perugia we took the train to Florence.
We are now in Tuscany.
Our pensione, the hotel San Gionvani is right on the Piazza San Giovanni and our simple room has a view of the Duomo.

First impressions of Florence is that it is very beautiful and has an abundance of charming streets to explore. Since arriving (after having a trio of delicious Tuscan soups and gilled polenta with mushrooms) we visited the Duomo, saw the Botticellis in the Uffuzi, watched the sun beginning to set from the Ponte Vecchio, and, after ducking into a few more churches of course, had a cannoli at a beautiful pastisserie on the Piazza Republica. I thought the cannoli would be disgusting, but it is actually quite good.

We will be in Florence for a few days and will blog more frequently, as there seems to be an abundance of internet options here.

d and b

1 comment:

Peaches said...

Sounds exciting! What a beautiful country to visit. You may want to summit your posts to Steve...or The Intrepid Traveler...