To start with, this is the longest trip Julie and I have taken together. We were gone for 20 days, two of which were essentially spent on airplanes. We wouldn't have been gone quite that long but we had to tweak our dates to match the frequent flier ticket opportunities on Delta. Did you know a first class ticket from Salt Lake to Rome runs between $5000 and $8000? Who can afford that? First class is nice, but it sure isn't that nice!
We spent two days wandering around Rome before we met the rest of our group at the airport. From there, we drove two large vans about 3 hours north into Umbria where we had a villa rented as our base camp. We were there for two weeks, making day trips out to towns like Montone, Spello, Spoletto, Assisi, Gubbio, Pietralunga and Perugia. It was great having a large, comfortable place to settle into and not have to pack up and move over and over.
At the end of the two weeks, we drove back to Rome. Everyone left the next morning except Julie and I. We had one more day to kill, which turned out to be fabulous luck. More on that later.
The trip was organized by Richard Philpot (front, flowered shirt). We have skied with Dick and his wife Cosette over in Europe and here in Park City. The group, roughly from left to right:
- Terry and Bob from the UK
- Ilona from the DC area. We have skied with her in France
- Eireann, a professional tour guide for Italy, although she lives in the UK
- Cosette and Dick
- Bob and Laurie from Durham, NC
- Jennifer from Pennsylvania. She is also part of our French ski group
I wish I had taken a picture of the vans we used. They were large and fit our group and our luggage easily. The downside was that they had fairly bald tires and a manual transmission. Bob (from Durham) and I did most of the driving and Dick was our navigator. It has been a while since I have driven a manual and I struggled getting this beast out of the tight parking deck.
Once we drove a good ways up the highway, we turned onto a winding little road. About every kilometer, we ran into enough warning signs to scare you senseless. Slick roads. Snow. Soft shoulder. Deer crossing. Rock slides. Whatever the one is that looks like bumps in the road. The road wasn't that bad. I am guessing there is some kickbacks going on with the road sign industry.
After driving about a half mile up a twisting, narrow gravel road, we arrive at Villa Cavagnetti, home for the next two weeks.
Here's our closest neighbor. What a dump!
You can kind of tell from the photo above, but the Umbrian countryside was every shade of green you can imagine. It was as green as any land I have ever seen. Just beautiful.
Julie and I started our trip in Rome. We wanted to go out and find a nice breakfast to start our day of hiking around. It took us a while to learn that in Italy, breakfast is some sweet doughnut or croissant and a cup of espresso. No big cups of coffee and if they offer you eggs with bacon or sausage, you should be really suspect. We finally gave in and did sugar and caffeine with the rest of them.
While I haven't included any photos, one of the most consistent dining patterns we adopted was the afternoon gelato. What a wonderful taste treat. We found a fantastic place for gelato early in the trip and the rest of the vacation was spent hunting for its equal.
Lots more pictures and topics, but I will end this post here.