When in Rome for Easter

Rome DomeROME, ITALY – This is an armchair tour of the Vatican churches, inside and out. Amazing 360 degree photos. More than 360, 360 all directions. Want to look straight down at the paving beneath you, straight up at the dome above, left, right? Anywhere. What I always wonder was where was the camera? How does that work? I’ve seen the effect of course but never such a regal documentation of one subject. And I can’t imagine how they set it up the lighting so well over and over. I know, forget the technology and just enjoy. It is better than being there in person. You just see everything.

And plus, even though Palm Sunday and Easter are almost upon us, no lines! Divertivi molto.

360 DEGREE WRAP AROUND PHOTOS INSIDE THE VATICAN

Basilica Papale SAN GIOVANNI IN LATERANO

Basilica Papale SAN PIETRO

Basilica Papale SAN PAOLO FUORI LE MURA

Basilica Papale SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE

What a way to go. Car rental coup d’jour

Usually when it comes to car rentals I’m lucky to get a coupe let alone a coup. Have to say I think I scored a coup this time. First of all, this is no ad. I only wish I got paid for anything I said here. So, we went to Expedia where our daughter had such good luck in Italy last month. Typed in Rome and Nov 1 – Nov 16th and it was $600 plus USD. which isn’t terrible. $300 a week. And as we all know, car rental is a big part of any trip to any place. Necessary evil. But often the trip money we most hate to part with.

But then I thought I’d compare it to Kemwel. They’ve had good prices the last couple times we’ve gone to Umbria via Rome. So, I googled them up and typed in the same exact details. Now, I don’t want to sound brag-y or anything but -$406. For 16 days?! That’s what I thought. Should have seen how fast I got that paid for.

No idea what the deal is. One of the joys of off-season travel? Crisis in Greece? Who knows? Who cares why at this rate. I mean, look at the very next car down. $648. For a TWO door. Versus our FOUR door. And scroll down like maybe three or four cars and there is THE SAME EXACT CAR. For almost $700! And if you wanted that same car with an automatic it was within pennies of $1,300. Holy cats, Batman! I know, I know. Not everyone can drive a stick. But this corn-fed Iowa farm boy, I assure you, can. For that money you can go back to school. Driving School. And learn how to be shifty like me. The absolute only thing I can see different is that on our fab rate the mice type says “off airport supplier.” Well, ok, but for $300 you can shuttle me halfway to Sicily before I start complaining. But still. I thought I ought to do due diligence. So, I called Kemwel and asked and they said I should take the “Advantage” bus right from the curb and it is a five minute shuttle to pick up the car. Don’t worry. If it’s a total bust, I will Man-Up as they say and report back.

I have no idea if this rate is a fluke or that day only or what. Whatever it is, at this price, I’ll take it.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

Kiki finds a couple things to do in Umbria

Maybe a couple times in our Life After Buying a House in Umbria, people have said “well, gee, if you buy one place then you’ll never be able to go anywhere else. And won’t you get, like, bored?” As if. Every time we go to Italy, and this is a dozen years now, we find things we can’t now imagine that we missed. Its just an embarrassment of riches waiting for us to discover.
gmbreakfast
That came to mind when we got this fun-filled note from our buddy and co-owner Kiki. We have so much unscheduled merriment there in Panicale that we often teasingly refer to it as Panic Alley. What the heck, same general pronunciation?

If I interject and annotate her note I’ll put my words in Italic and in parens.

See you in Italy!

Stew

——————————
Hey Styooo, (how Anglo Saxonish name Stewart comes out in Latin-ish Italian. Regardless, music. Well, to my ears)

Pix when we can. (Fine, fine. I’ll do mine!) Too busy having fun. Here’s what we’ve done:

Wednesday arrival, lunch at GMB. (over over the top coffee, pastry extravaganza at bargain prices just outside Cast.d.Lago. fotos here hint of same. enclosed is their idea of civilized morning nosh, above, and box lunch, below. BTW, I think the lunch delights came to under $10 USD. Box and bows included.)

Thursday Morning discovered Salvatore’s, the new take-out in Panicale. Best bread ever, plus wonderful seafood lasagna (recommended by Giovanna) and torta di Napoli.

Thursday Night we hit Cortona to visit Kathleen’s Peaks Island friends. Saw Pia! Air-kissed and said ‘hi.’ (that’s Pia of Nando and Pia fame our old friends at Bar Sport by the intersection of the piazzas in the center of town. Just beside City Hall and across from theater) Kathleen’s friends want to buy here, so we told them about seeyouinitaly! (why, thank you) They’re smart, cute and funny. Yet more nice friends to have here.
gmboxlunch
Friday, back to Salvatore’s, then Assisi and our first gelato of the season.

Saturday Ikea in Firenze — wait ’til you see my new living room! …

Sunday, back to Salvatore’s, then brunch at Elida’s with Sophia + Anna; Sunday evening dinner at the Peter/Sarah’s with gang of ten others. so good to see.

Monday Siena, so Kathleen could see St. Catherine’s head — and thumb.

Today, Cetona with the Bowers to visit their antiques guy — and have a three hour lunch.

Tomorrow, Rome. Jim is driving us because he wants to see the Coliseum, too. Nice, eh?
(they are back. loved it eternally they said. But, no. They didn’t elaborate. Assumed they were just still having too much fun. Wait, wait “I’ve got mail)

Rome. That’s a riot about the earthquake. We were rather like you, Midge and friends when you were at the Autogrille when the place had been evacuated for a faux bomb scare: innocents abroad. We knew nothing. Jim drove us to Rome to pick up Rob, who slept his whole flight and was plenty rested. We parked near the Circus Maximus, walked to the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain. Had a good lunch — and the most incredible ‘iced’ cappuccino. Lovely. Lots of walking on what seemed like terra firma!
(versus the italian word for earthquake: terremoto)
No time yet to swim in pools, patronize favorite local restaurants or take pix. Definitely will!

What … flood? At the office? (can you hear the roar of the fans? she’s in Italy, we’re here with broken water heater water lapping at our office door. sigh. Almost fixed! YAY.)

Baci, baci.
Kiki

WE ROME AROUND WE ROME AROUND

DATELINE: ALL OF ITALY— NEWS FLASH! ITALY WINS! THEY ARE IN THE WORLD CUP SOCCER FINALS. OPPONENT TO BE DECIDED TONIGHT. EITHER FRANCE OR PORTUGAL. Forza Azzuri! Yay Italian Blue. Did you see the match yesterday? Nice of them to have it on the Fourth of July. Wow. What a match. Beating unbeaten Germany in Germany. OMG. There must be much dancing in the streets in “football” crazed Italy today. FINAL MATCH ON FRIDAY, JULY 9TH.

We return you now to our regularily scheduled blog:

—————————————————————–

ROMAN AROUND PANICALE

PANICALE, Umbria— There is a Roman family who live on the street below us. And some other Romans who live beside us. Now we have another new neighbor from Rome: Amselmo. He’s not new. Just new to us. Like many a Roman in Panicale, they are more often than not actually originally from Panicale, but they live and work in Rome. And come home to Panicale on the weekends. It’s a couple hours and couldn’t be easier for them. He and his wife have a building down the street from us. They live on the top two or three floors and for the last year or so have been renovating the ground floors of his building into a stylish weekend home for his adult kids. We’ve been watching the progress every time we go by and if Amselmo’s there he invites us in. Very much a constant twinkle in the eye kind of guy. He did the place for his kids to lure them to Panicale but no dice, they didn’t come as often as he had hoped, so he’s selling it.

PANICALE GOES ROMAN

ROME, Italy— They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. But we saw the heck out of it in a day. Did not know you could do that. So, I had to be coaxed and cajoled into spending a day in Rome. Well, I got my just deserts there. What a fine and fun day in the sun that turned out to be. Like all recent converts, I’m all fired up and ready to go again at the drop of a hat. Mood swings? Yike. Here’s the no-stress way we spent the day. Got up at seven. See that wasn’t so hard, now was it Stew? Had a leisurely coffee with Aldo, caught the 8:59 Chiusi to Rome Termini. Trenitalia (trains of italy) by the way, is pretty much bulletproof train schedule site. With brother Roger and his wife Donna in hand we pulled into the Rome station at 10:46. I defy any one to pilot a car to central Rome in an hour and three quarters from Panicale in the middle of Umbria. Usually it takes us three solid hours to get to Romes’s airport. I’m guessing the trip to the center of town would be a comparable driving nightmare.

The train pulled in right on time, ten euros later, by cab (yes, yes we could have walked but we didn’t know that now did we?) we were at Hotel Giuliana on Via Agostino Dpretis. Antonio greeted us happily as Roger’s reservation filled his last room. Hey, Antonio, save us a room. We will be back!

GETTING AROUND IN ROME

We found the hotel in DK Eyewitness Travel under “Rome” under “Termini”. This book proved bulletproof too. So helpful for scooting around town. Ok, one drawback. The book is not only heavy with detail, it is just plain heavy. Another time I might just read, review and leave at home. But as a security blanket, it was worth its weight in gold. A slightly braver Roman Traveler might find true happiness with just one Dam map. We used our really tough, light, durable Van Dam “Street Smart Rome” folding map a hundred times in the one day. Unlike a lot of embarrassingly large, bed sheet sized maps, this one is discrete and folds out more like a brochure. Colorful, simple, helpful, laminated. Would not go without it.


WHEN IN ROME

So, what did those resources help us see in one easy day? Lets start at the Terminal:

Hotel. Got in, chatted up the nice staff, got settled, oriented.
Coliseum. This was no drive by. We did the complete guided tour. See below.
Roman Forum
Hadrian’s Column
Victor Emanuel Monument. Also see below.
Bernini’s Elephant based obelisk
The Pantheon!
Trevi Fountain

All on foot and all casual. This was absolutely not one of those forced marches tourists sometimes inflict on themselves. We’re way to lazy for that. We stopped, we gawked, we took each other’s pictures in front of every piece of carved marble in town, we sat in the sun, we ate paninnis, we licked gelatis. And then, Midge and I caught the 5:14 back to Chiusi after making sure Roger and Donna were all organized, finding them tickets for their next day’s trip to the airport. We showed them the trick to catching that train. (The trick: that train comes in off to the side of the major tracks. To your right as you are looking at the trains going to every corner of Italy. To the side and waaay down the corridor. That’s right, just keep going. Airport train is a bit different as it is sort of inter-city, special deal) The train station in Rome has become very uptown and cool. Like a trendy mall versus the greasy gritty third world dump I remember it being. I was, and remain, impressed. With train, station and Rome.

LOOKS LIKE THE TREVI TO ME

What a lovely way to spend a sunny Sunday. To think that two days ago my sister in law was wearing my parka! If I had had a wool scarf in Montepulciano even the day before, I would have worn it too. Today Rome was blessed with Tshirt weather and we were reveling in it. And loving the fact that a lot of the city was closed to cars and major streets around the forum were reserved for pedestrians and bicycles. Not sure what the occasion was, but regardless, let us just wave goodbye out our train window and say Viva Roma!

I hope to be writing up some Helpful Italian Train Riding Hints shortly. Fun for all ages.

Until then,

See you in Italy,

Stew

IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO BEFORE UNPACKING IN ITALY


PANICALE, Umbria— WE ARE HERE IN ITALY! The first thing you do when you get here is hug your way around town. Kids, women, men of all ages. You are right, We sure do not do that in Iowa. Well, not the real men anyway. OK, quando a Roma! You know that opening scene in the old TV show “Cheers”? Norm walks in and everyone goes N-O-R-M-! They make us feel like that here. Does my heart good to feel missed. Which is only fair because wow we really did some missing of our own. All right. Hugs taken care of. Then, sort of in order:

Coffeecoffeeecoffeeandgelati.

Balcony dinners by sunset over the lake

Dinner out in the country with friends serving fresh mussels in garlic. Oh my.

Swimming in Lake Trasimeno. In May! Splash down in Italy indeed. Barely landed and we are taking a dip in the biggest and best pool on the peninsula: Lago Trasimeno. Thank you George and Litta for a fab day at the beach. PAR TEE BARGE PAR TEE BARGE.

A concert in a baroque church in Panicale

Finding my brother Roger and his wife Donna at the Rome airport. An all day affair. Ah Roma. All’s well that ends well, they finally got in from Amsterdam.

Boy were they tired. Boy, did the fireworks keep them up.

Saw four properties in Cortona, met friends, had an outrageous good dinner.

THEN we unpacked. Wild times here in Umbria. But don’t get me wrong. No complaining allowed and there has been some fine gardening and some heavy sitting in the piazza digesting the scene and the pastries and the coffeecoffeecoffee.

More news and pictures from Panic Alley shortly.

Midge and Grayson (baby daughter returned from the wilds of Costa Rica) are flying in now. We will have a good full house and a full and rich vacation. Springtime in Umbria is a fine fine thing. Highly recommend it to one and all. Hopefully tonight is PIZZA night.

See you in Italy!

Stew