Days 3 – 5 have been a mix of exciting sites, adventures, food…but also travel annoyances and mishaps.
As we took it easy on Saturday (read: slept till 11), we took in some more local sites which I won’t mention much about here (Jewish ghetto, Pantheon, piazza navona, st. Ignasio and its 3-D paintings, trevi fountain). We also ate a delicious meal at Rick Steves’ recommended Osteria al Bric. Matt has insisted that we record EVERY meal in detail so that we can recreate later (lots of truffle, mostly black… It’s in season!). Rick’s night walk was also delightful.
Sunday we set our caps on the Catacombs of St. Callisto, just outside the city walls. This ancient christian burial site in Rome started being used around 100AD. It’s outside the city walls because an first century decree forbade burying the dead in city walls (Romans mostly cremated). As we shared earlier, the catacomb part of the Vatican museum was amazing so we were extremely interested to see where all of those artifacts came from.
We walked past the old Circus Maximus (you know no biggie) and hopped a bus the the Appia Antica (Ancient Appian Way). This was one of our highlights – The AA is so tranquil and beautiful, lined with sprawling villas old and new, and as you stroll along the original stones of a 2,000+ year old highway, complete with chariot wheel grooves, you can’t help but feel like you’re part of the history. We thought about renting bikes to ride it but after seeing international tourist after tourist fly off their bike and scream obscenities in every native tongue, we opted out.
Our catacomb tour took us deep down into the burial chambers and tiny worship nooks. As wealthier Romans became Christians, they shared their property with poorer, oppressed Christians who couldnt pay for a place to bury their dead when they “fell asleep” before the return of Jesus. As persecution increased and Christians were being hunted down, they would hide here for the day. The walls had crumbling leftovers (darn those barbarians that ruined EVERYTHInG historical) of beautiful mosaics and frescoes as well as touching epitaphs.
On the way back from the catacombs we got lost for 2 hours (insert marital conflict #1) and almost had a meltdown. Italian transportation is ridiculous. Modern day Italians have really strayed from their organized, civil engineering ancestors. It ain’t pretty but it’s the truth. Dinner in Trastevere helped however.
On Monday we gladly departed Rome via train for Orvieto. Unlike the annoying American tourists we saw at the cafe the day before (beefy dude wearing a cutoff bodybuilder.com tshirt, carrying 12 fake Gucci bags, screaming “I can’t believe I got these here gucci bags so cheap!!”) we met the most amazing older couple on the train. They were from LA, almost on the same itinerary as us. Peggy and John, originally from NYC, are an actor and horseshoe retailer respectively. We had great laughs and convos the whole way and plan to meet up in Cinque Terre next week!
We picked up our rental car in Orvieto and low and behold, Matts GPS was not getting signal. We had no real road maps or directions and we were in the Italian countryside. (insert marital conflict número due). After some very calm (cough) arguing with interested Italian old men looking on, we decided to just drive and hope for the best. Success! Praise God, he knew that if that durned GPS didn’t start working, the holy Rhoads union might be at risk. He spared us further calamity and it started working.
Now is where our favorite part comes – Civita di Bagnoregio. If you come to Italy ever, you MUST see this little hill town precariously perched high up on an eroding crag. It was the stuff Italian dreams are made of. We parked as Rick told us under the foot bridge in Bagnoregio and walked up the steep footbridge (the original eroded away) to this town in the clouds. But not before seeing some interesting bathroom signs – toilet for men and …. Segway riders OR handicapped people. You decide:
We took some video to try to capture the sights but I just learned that I can’t upload onto wordpress- awesome!
Ok, I’ve run out of time so our horrifying and funny dinner story from last night’s agriturismo will have to wait…