Rome Day 12 / Venturing out a bit

Today we had an early bus to catch so we were out of the B&B by 6:15 with a small “breakfast to go” thanks to Max. We hopped on the A Line to Termini and took a short walk to the Green Line Tours office where we checked in and boarded the bus. I don’t really have any concept of our transfer time for anything on this tour because I caught myself napping several times between each stop.

We first arrived in Orvieto, a tiny medieval town established in the 5th Century B.C. Because this city was built high on a hill (as most medieval towns are) we were dropped off by our motorcoach and took a tram up a steep track, then hopped on a little shuttle bus to the center of town where we saw cute little cobblestone streets. We took a look in St. Mary’s Church (1920) and viewed the very dramatic frescoes it had to offer. The outside of the church was done in a striking white and green marble which gave it a dramatic striped effect. As we were leaving we saw a small parade consisting of about a dozen men, and in front someone carrying a flag of some sort. This was to commemorate the holy day, the Feast of St. Joseph (Santo Giuseppe).

Our next stop was a wine & cheese tasting at a cute little villa in lower Orvieto. I wish we could have brought home some cheese and dried meat, but that pesky USFDA won’t let us bring it home from here (we will be sure to stop at the duty free shop in Fiumicino Airport where they package it specially for this purpose). We did get a bottle of their local wine and some dry mushroom soup mix, then we all enjoyed a lunch of pasta and veal, followed by the most delicious biscotti I’ve ever had.

We continued our journey to Assisi where we braved more cold and rain to see the sights there. Starting with the Church of Santa Chiara (St. Claire), we viewed her magnificent church, though most of the frescoes were missing due to age and damage over the years, as well as a recent earthquake. We were able to see her remains in a glass tomb, her face covered by a mask.

We walked outside along the charming (though wet, windy and frigid) streets of Assisi and my umbrella turned inside out more than once. We came upon the Church of St. Francis which is actually two churches – one upstairs and one downstairs. A third church is an underground chapel which holds a sarcophagus with his remains and a few of the vestments of both saints. The upper church holds a famous crucifix you might recognize (look for picture on Internet). After visiting these churches the bus took us down the hill to view the church St. Francis built in this town which was very small (maybe 10’x20’, housed right in the middle of a large cathedral.

After our long, cold, wet day visiting several churches we were ready to return home and were dropped off at Termini Station by the bus. We decided we had better use the toilets before returning to the B&B so once we found them we had an adventure. In Rome, you usually have to pay for using a toilet (unless you are patronizing an establishment such as a restaurant). Well the ones in Termini are coin-operated €0,70 and apparently only take exact change. They have scary automatic doors which threaten to capture you if you don’t push through quickly enough. We did both make it after a few clumsy attempts and now I guess we know for next time!

Stop to get dinner near the B&B at LaRuota where we enjoyed house red wine and wood-fired pizza. The owner stopped us on the way out to hand us his card and ask that we send him a postcard from Arizona. This area of town is not really known for tourists so we usually get a few looks from people – I suppose it’s a novelty for them to have Americans in the house. On our way out we saw Jim & Ruth who had just been seated so I suppose he will also be getting a postcard from Rockford, Illinois.

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