Ciao Bella Italia Part Due

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I found my 2018 Easter outfit in Rome

OMG – how did three weeks fly by?

It’s been hoppin’ here in AGMA central since I landed back in Wonderland.

I’ve been working wayyy too much, visited the grands in Chicago and on top of that, I was in charge of Hubs retirement celebration 2 weeks ago.

 

More about the retirement later.  Probably a lot more…  AGMA just wanted to give a excuse (albeit lame) as to why she’s been so quiet. Again.

But now, it’s time to go back to Italy!  Picking up where I left off in my post of 4/19 (which seems eons ago)…

We left Rome the day after the marathon. AGMA was walking kind of slow.  Especially when I had to pick up and schlep my suitcase.  AGMA packs light for overseas adventures  – my bag was slightly larger than a carry-on.   But it felt like it weighed about 300 lbs.

It made my legs wobble.

We headed east to a small hilltop walled village circa 1000 AD where K’s old high school friend lives. Mr. D has lived in Italy for 40+ years so he knows a thing or two about lamb entrails…

He arranged for a private tour of the local sites – an excavation of a Roman villa and a church built into the side of a mountain that St. Francis hung out in for a couple of nights.  I’m a history geek so I loved it. K, not so much – I saw her eye’s roll, ever so slightly, back in her head.

We spent the night in Mr. D’s 700+ year old home up in the walled village.

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My guess is that the cooler is probably not 700+ years old…

And were treated to a cold shower the next morning. But it’s 700+ years old right? AGMA had a 30 year old house once that had plumbing issues too…

The next day Mr. D took us to the charming town of Orvieto that has a fabulous cathedral. Shelley at Destination NOW visited Orvieto in 2012 and has some great posts about her visit. We were there for 3 hours. Read Shelley’s first post here if you want to know more about this fabulous little town.

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After our visit, Mr. D loaded us on the train; we were off to Siena. Beautiful Siena. Hilly Siena. Very hilly Siena.

My legs were still wobbling.

I absolutely LOVED our hotel, the Albergo Bernini, primarily because of the view from the hotel terrace.

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We were right next to St. Catherine’s house (sort of) and just a stones throw (maybe a couple of stones.) from the Basilica of San Domenico where Catherine’s head and thumb are in residence.

Eeewwww…

You weren’t allowed to take a picture of her head, but it was open season on her thumb.

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Her thumb is on the left in that little coffee press looking glass thing.

We enjoyed aperetivo on Siena’s huge “square” (it’s not really a square), Piazza del Campo, but it was kind of chilly.  The drinks warmed us up.  It’s hard to imagine, but the Sienese having a horse race on this square twice a year called Il Palio that sounds akin to a jalopy demolition derby.

This might have to be an addition to my bucket list!

After 2 nights in Siena, we hopped on another train.  Destination – Pisa. In AGMA’s 5 past visits to Italy, I had never been to Pisa to see “it”.  I’d heard some uncomplimentary things about Pisa and her famous tower.   “The town’s dirty, full of cheap restaurants and tacky souvenir stands selling cheap, cheesy little Leaning Towers to sucker tourists, yada, yada, yada…”

Maybe that’s why it took me 6 visits to get there.

But our 4 hours in Pisa were delightful! We walked the mile from the train station to the Field of Miracles through the town, which is full of college students.  We strolled around the tower and cathedral.  Took the obligatory “Look I’m holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa up!” photos. Ate lunch.  Walked back to the train station and hit the road…eh, tracks again.  It was a great afternoon.

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Yeah, it’s got a tower that leans, but there’s a lot more to Pisa than that!

Destination – the big tamale – the Cinque Terre

And it was just as breathtaking as I’d heard.  But hilly.  Very hilly.  Mountainous actually.

At this point in the trip, my legs had stopped wobbling.  Sadly, this was a temporary condition.

We stayed at an Agriturismo farm waaaaayyyy up on a hill in Monterosso de Mare, the most northern of the 5 towns.  We didn’t have a car so the only way into town and back again was to walk.

And that’s when the wobbling started again.

But it was worth it for the view, our congenial hosts, the delicious meals, and the wine made from the grapes grown in their vineyard.

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Early morning view of all five Cinque Terra towns from our room

OMG – the wine.

One night, after consuming two bottles, K and AGMA videoed ourselves – in our jammies – dancing to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA  and Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”.  Then sent the video to our families.

There was much remorse and gnashing of teeth in the morning.  And a slight headache.

We hiked, ‘cuz that’s what your supposed to do when you’re in the Cinque Terre.  We hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza one day, then between Corniglia and Vernazza the next day.

There were steps.  Lot of steps.  Lots and lots of steps.

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I had nightmares about these steps!

The wobbling continued.

We used the local train to visit Manarola and Riomaggiore.  But I think we did more hiking up and down and around these towns than on the hikes between the other towns.

AGMA felt like a mountain goat.  Or a bighorn sheep.  Without the horns.

We were blessed with incredible weather which helped take some of the sting out of all the walking and climbing.  The scenery was freakin’ spectacular!

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Riomaggiore looked stunning!

After four wonderful days exploring these beautiful 5 CT towns, we sadly said goodbye to our hosts, left our goat leggings behind, and headed back to Rome for one more night before flying home.

Overall, the trip was amazing.

But please tell me how, after running a marathon, walking all around Siena, Orvieto, Pisa, and climbing up and down the cliffs & towns of the Cinque Terre, AGMA managed to gain 6 pounds?  Sure, we ate well and drank wine, but we didn’t go absolutely nuts.  As a matter of fact, I felt like we exercised great restraint at times.

And K didn’t gain an ounce.

How is that fair?

Back to rabbit food if I want to fit into my new Easter outfit next year.

Now all I need is a bonnet…

 

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24 thoughts on “Ciao Bella Italia Part Due

  1. Oh AGMA! What a wonderful trip. I love Orvieto. And Siena. And Cinque Terre. And Italian wine. And food…

    I’ll bet you gained six pounds of muscle in your legs. Yes, that is exactly what happened.

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful experiences. The Agriturismo in CT sounds spectacular. I want to get the old man there someday and do just that. Love this post.

    Hope your legs have stopped wobbling!

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    • Thanks Ilona! Yeah – I’d go with the muscle weight thing if my pant’s weren’t all tight in my mid-section. Other than an expanded belly, butt and waist, the rest of me looks normal. Or as normal as AGMA ever looks.

      And yes, they stopped wobbling until I started running again once I got home! 🙂

      I’m glad I caught up with you and your Italian travels! They were beautiful, interesting and DELICIOUS areas of Italy to visit.

      Found a $400 airfare last night from ATL to Rome in early March. Hubs and I are thinking about it… I still haven’t done the Amallfi Coast, Assisi, Lake Como or Sicily!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You make me want to go there! I do not have runner’s legs and would probably have to hire someone or two to carry me up all those stairs. (Or have an ambulance waiting for me fourth of the way up them!) You are a goddess to women our age to be able to run and walk so far and so high. Keep up the photos too. They are awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joyful! Your so sweet about my pictures – I know you’re pictures would be soooo much better!

      I do not exaggerate about the stairs – they were brutal. We had to stop quite a few times to rest. Again, I can’t imagine somebody who was not normally physically active doing it. And not really hurting the next day that is… 🙂

      Oh my – I wish I was a goddess! I’m more like one of those Scandinavian trolls (with running shoes!) But thanks for the awesome compliment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to have to wait till I get home to view the thumb. Much too hard to see on my phone!
    Thanks for the shout out regarding Orvieto. Too bad you only had a few hours there, but you certainly covered a whole lot of other ground.
    But why don’t WE get to see the video? Come on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah – the video… Strictly verboten. It’s all to protect the identity of my friend don’t you know… 😉

      I hope folks read your posts about Orvieto which are excellent and still true some 5 years later. 5 years on the Italian timeline is like 5 minutes here in the US. Ha!

      Hope every has recovered!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, perhaps we can strike a deal right here and now: I don’t have to see the dancing videos, if you promise to model your Easter outfit next April. That seems only fair.

    Beautiful pics and what wonderful scenes you got so see. I’m not sure my wife could do all the walking you guys did (she has a damaged ankle that prevents long hikes). But perhaps someday we can still replicate your trip– including the six pounds. Who CARES about the extra weight when you had all that fabulous wine and food?! I’m suspicious of K’s weight report,btw. But we can let her have that little “victory” of hers. Great post! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks much!!

      You know Marty…I am a bit suspicious of K’s weight report too. But don’t tell anybody. And you’re right – who cares?!?!

      You can still get to all the CT towns on the train (the local stops at all 5 towns), but there is a fair amount of walking (some uphill) when you get to the towns if you want to tour around. If not, in 3 of the towns, there is great stuff to see close to the train station. I not always a fan of his books, but Rick Steves Cinque Terre book is excellent if you are thinking of visiting the area and spot on with it’s advice.

      Unfortunately, the Easter outfit was too expensive for me (basically the cost of my entire 2+ week trip including airfare!) so I’m going to have to try to reconstruct it from our local thrift stores. I’ll keep you posted…

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    • Yikes – I don’t mean to frustrate you Forkin! I had to put off my wanderlust from 1982 to 2001 due to child rearing and a very tight budget. My dad passed away in 2001 and left us a small inheritance that eased our budget situation and allowed us to start traveling again intermittently. Not sure it was worthy the emotional price of getting the means, but life is what it is. It’s only been in the last couple of years (late 50’s, early 60’s) that we’ve started traveling more extensively.

      But where there is a will, there’s a way. Lots of travel credit cards will give you enough miles for a RT to Europe for signing up and spending a certain amount in like 3 months (not too hard if you use it to pay all your bills.) And there are free couch surfing places to stay if you are adventurous and on a restricted budget. And grocery stores and convince stores are great places for inexpensive meals. But another problem is just finding the time, which when you are young with kids and working can be more daunting than the financial end.

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  5. Pingback: Love is love part deux | Aging Gracefully My Ass

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