First, here are the pictures of my retail therapy purchases from the last couple of days that wouldn’t load yesterday!
And here’s that huge bruschetta that we enjoyed for lunch.
Another early start – we went from the port of Civitavecchia to Rome. This is about an hour’s drive. Along the way, we again saw many olive trees, sunflower fields and vineyards.
We first went to the Catacombs in Rome, an underground maze of tunnels hollowed out of volcanic rock. The early Christians who were persecuted by the Romans, practiced their religion in secret and buried their dead here. There were about 150,000 bodies entombed there, some of the tombs were desecrated by the barbarians and many still remain, dug into the walls, sealed with marble or granite. There were no photos allowed in there, but I did buy two postcards that represent some of the drawings and also the church part. The Catacombs are 4 levels deep but 2 are closed off because it is too dangerous to go there. There are very well preserved oil lamps that were used for light, and boy did they need it. It was DARK down there. Very interesting.
There are only 2 subway lines in Rome. They want more but every time they dig they find more artifacts and so it can take 20 years to get approval for anything. The guide says it is bureaucracy.
We went along the Appian Way, 8 K of which has been preserved in the ancient way it was, just big enough for 2 carriages to pass by.
Yesterday I wrote about the 1861 unification of Italy. It turns out that Rome didn’t join the unification until 1870 because the Pope at the time wouldn’t allow it, he was afraid of losing his power. Deals were made and that’s how the Pope became the governor of the area of Rome as well as being the head of the Catholic church.
We then made our way to Castel Gandolfo, the village that is the summer residence of the Pope. Well, all except Francis, who doesn’t summer here. He comes about one day in July and one day in August and the people of the village are NOT happy about it. He apparently thinks it is for leisure and he doesn’t want to have that type of leisure time. There are large gardens that produce all of the vegetables for Vatican City, and the garden and papal summer home are all part of the sovereign Vatican State. When the Pope is there, the Swiss Guards are outside. It is a beautiful little village with 7500 population – overlooking a lake that was formed by a volcanic crater. We enjoyed a gelato there and visited some shops, took pictures. There was a mass going on in the church, so no picturesthere. But we saw some nuns walking around
There was a QR code made out of tile outside the papal summer residence.
Our last stop was “Monte Due Torri” which is located in the middle of the Albani Hills. This is a farmhouse that has over 2000 years of history. We first were treated to meeting a woman from the Amici family who have lived there for over 50 years. She demonstrated pasta making, using just the flour and water. She makes all the pasta by hand, no machines here! And it is the only place in this area of Italy that produces the balsamic vinegar, most is produced in other areas.
We enjoyed homemade bread with olive oil and local ham – a bruschetta – with white wine outside, then went in to the restaurant, which used to be a huge cistern. There we had salad, red wine, lasagne and gnocci with homemade tomato sauce, more delicious bread, and a lovely strawberry and cream dessert layered in phyllo dough.
We toured the rest of the building and the wine cellar. A delightful several hours. Then back to the ship.