10th of September - London City Airport to Rome Leonardo da Vinci International Airport via Alitalia.
Made arrangements to be picked up and driven to B&B all'Orologio- Via dei Brnchi Nuovi, Rome
Crazy Italian drivers. All inclusive horn, hand gestures and yelling through the small streets of Rome. Very exciting!
Kim will be arriving tomorrow morning and I am doing my best not look around too much before she arrives. Bit tricky as I'm in Rome.....
Strolled down to Piazza Navona which is just a few tiny streets over from the B&B. Classic Italian Piazza - wonderful art vendors and street performers.
Roma, Lazio, Italy
Friday, September 11, 2015
I (Kim) arrived in Rome at 7:30 am local time after a grueling marathon travel day from Durham to Portsmouth to Boston to JFK in NYC, spending almost 7 hours in JFK before the red eye flight to Rome.
The travel was mostly uneventful, just a bit LONG. I was tired and possibly a bit delirious and lost my wallet as soon as I met Michelle at our B&B. After some major fretting, phone calls and scouring our room, our first outing was to the local police station - Legione Carabinieri Lazio to attempt to overcome a major language barrier to fill out a police report! Felt like home.... Entering data on a government computer!
I was determined that it wouldn't ruin our trip so we soldiered on and toured Rome until a thunderstorm threatened the city and we returned to the room... Only to have Michelle find my wallet under my pillow!
After the drama of the wallet we headed out to stretch our legs again and see a bit of the city (not police stations) but proper Roman sights.
We will be proper tourists when we return to Rome later on and have scheduled tours of Saint Peter's and the Vatican.
Big day tomorrow........All's well that ends well
Piazza Navona - Rome, Lazio, Italy
Piazza pio XII - Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peters, Vaticano)
Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) - Rome, Lazio, Italy
Piazza del Popolo - Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Pompeii, Campania, Italy
Saturday, September 12, 2015
The long awaited trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. Joined a tour group which began in Rome at Piazza del Popolo. We were herded onto a large tour bus and headed south for the day viewing gorgeous mountains (Apennines range), sea and agricultural areas.
I've wanted to visit Pompeii since reading about it in elementary school. How could an entire town be buried in volcanic ash and rubble? I wanted to see the boy, still eating his cake, and with his dog by his side. We saw a few of the body casts, but the ones we saw at the Boston Museum of Science years ago were better. I watched a few documentaries about Pompeii before our trip and got a slightly different view of things to look for in ancient, erotic Pompeii. Only portions of Pompeii have been excavated, but I was stuck by it's vastness and how well it's preserved. We walked on original streets, saw fountains, lead pipes, amphitheaters, piazzas, shops and so much more. The site is an engineering marvel and gives you insight into ancient Roman culture. Pompeii was buried in 79 AD. They had running water, lead pipes, fountains everywhere and even bird baths. The longest line all day way to walk through the "Hospitium Sitti", the hospitality area (a.k.a brothel region"). Stone beds and pillows along with several porno frescos!
Our guides were very helpful and informative. Pompeii is vast and with only a few hours to tour the site, it was great to have help navigating to some of the best areas and getting the history from locals. One the the most interesting things from the day was about the search to find Ancient Pompeii. They knew it existed, yet it took almost 1700 years to find it again. Pompeii was a wealthy port city. After the eruption it was buried in ash and rubble. The new material not only covered the city but added over 2 miles of new land (linear - no idea about total new area). Explorers had been searching in the wrong location for hundreds of years. Finally, farmers working their fields began to find remnants of the ancient civilization.
After Pompeii we had lunch in Naples. Traditional Napoli style pizza (Michelle prefers Roman style). Transporting back in time to a 70's style wedding reception, the decor was not what I expected for lunch in Naples. Still, filled us up for our next adventure to climb to the top of Mount Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano located in the Gulf of Naples, about 9 km east of Naples. We took the summit road up and along the way noticed many closed businesses. Apparently the mafia is still going strong. The Camorra is a mafia like crime syndicate dating back to the 18th century and is the largest criminal organizations in Italy and if you don't pay the "taxes" you close.
We reached the end of the auto road and walked up for about 30 minutes to the steep rim of the caldera. The eruption that covered Pompeii occurred in 79 AD and spewed molten rock and pumice at the rate of 1.5 million tons per second. Today this mountain is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby. Scientists are estimating it will erupt again in 2017-2019.
Just a bit for the geology geeks - mineralogy is generally silica-undersaturated and rich in potassium, with phonolite produced in the more explosive eruptions.
Fun facts for the day:
Christopher Columbus brought tomatoes to Italy.
Greece founded Naples
Our final stop on the tour was a comfort break at a truck stop where our hosts had a limoncello tasting planned for us. Mom, you would have loved it!
It was an amazing(ly long) day! Three (x 2) hour drive for seven hours of touring. Loved it!!!
After our epic day traveling to Pompeii, Naples & summiting Mount Vesuvius we awoke and ventured out to the streets of Rome for a morning run along the Tiber River and into a city park named Villa Borghese. The park was large and diverse with a dog park, zoo, trails, fountains, statues, paved paths, trails, overlooks of other points of interest and several activities for kids such as in-line skating party and a huge Lego play land. What a great find!
We had brunch at a cafe right outside the Pantheon... Table, huge water fountain and a few steps away... One of the great engineering marvels of all time!!! After filling our bellies and touring the Pantheon we continued to have a general walk around the Ancient Rome to plan our route for a major sightseeing day there later next week. We were heading to our main destination: Basilica di San Clemente. Basically 3 churches in one spot, layered one on top of another. As Kim so elegantly called the turducken of churches.
On our way back to our hotel we strolled through a few more gorgeous neighborhoods and piazzas. The sky was turning a deep, dark gray and even the locals we staring at the sky. Normally they just wave off the showers or duck into some ancient building for five minutes until the shower passes... Not this time. We had an early dinner and made it back to our B&B almost in time to miss the rain.
Before we headed north to Spoleto we did an early morning run to and area just south of Vatican City. I had found this run the night before online and Kim humored me by coming along. Fortunately the route proved to be quite nice and varied (albeit quite hilly). Wonderful views over looking all of Rome and beautiful parks.
After breakfast at our B&B we had a few hours to kill before our train departure from Roma Termini. Relaxing strolls through Piazza Navona, Piazza del.....too many to list
Hot hot late train to Spoleto....
Dinner in Spoleto
Spoleto, Umbria, Italy
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Spoleto - Abbazia San Sietro , trekking day I
Our morning began with a wonderful breakfast at Hotel Charleston. In not so Italian style our room was spacious (gigantic) & complete with a four poster bed.
New B&B and no lost wallet - cracking start for the second leg of our trip. We stocked up on cheese and bread in Piazza al Mercato in Spoleto before we met Luca who drove us 15min to the start of our hike (Le Porelle). Off to Abbazia San Pietro in Valle we went....
About 2.5 hours along and in true Italian style we came to Le Cese with two older gentlemen sitting on the side of the road. They greeted us warmly and were chatting away in Italian which I could not even begin to understand. Kim faired better than I and soon we knew their names and they ours. After a few minutes of petting a really cute dog we put our packs on and started off, one of the gentlemen came out from one of the houses with a plate of fried zucchini flowers for us to take along for the road. Amazing
Our relatively short walk today of about 9 miles took a bit longer due to the blackberries that kept stopping Kim along the way. It is physically impossible for her to walk by a blackberry patch. All in all we made good time even with a slight bushwhack detour we managed to find. On reaching our destination Abbazia San Pietro in Valle we looked upon the once Abbey we were to stay for the night.
On reaching our destination Abbazia San Pietro in Valle we looked upon the once Abbey we were to stay for the night.
Labro, Lazio, Italy
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Abbazia San Pietro - Labro , trekking day II
First off it was a long day 27k or thereabouts
Started off with a huge breakfast at the Abbey (breakfast, 2nd breakfast & elevenses) all at once. As we took two steps out of the Abbey it started to thunder and lightening - great opportunity to whip out the pack covers and rain jackets.... Did not last long however and soon the jackets came off.
Fairly easy walking from the Abbey to Ferentillo, we then proceeded to follow parts of the Greenway del Nera a popular trekking path along the river. The area we continued through was very agricultural and Kim was interested in the tilled fields and the marble/chert filled soils. (dirt doctor never on holiday). The orchards and vineyards began to loom up all around us and it was quite an effort for me not the try the grapes as we walked by.
We past through the village of Arrone and then past the lakeside village of Piediluco which by this time Labro loomed up above us. Our trekking guide (some notes on a piece of paper) warned us about the final climb to this ancient village. As written "it leaves the valley floor and climbed and climbs and climbs...it's a rough track, shared with a stream bed" so being our 17th mile of the day we prepared for the worst. We walked, waited & waited for the steepness to come.....it never really did, guess they did not realize that I'm from New England and that we don't believe in any trail that is not straight up!
Labro is one of the best well preserved medieval villages in Italy, narrow cobbled lanes lead up to magnificent views and as the title implies is full of cats. Very friendly cats and even I was taken in. Our host took us to our townhouse (Casa Luce) overlooking the valley we had just hiked up and showed us to the pool. Oh what a wonderful treat. We both jumped in and then warmed ourselves in the sun eating fresh figs right off of the tree next to us. Yum!
After relaxing a bit we decided to stroll around the town before dinner. Met lots of friendly cats and few dogs and a nice older Italian women who was attempting to teach us the proper way to speak her language. We proceeded to have dinner at Ullisse-again struggled a bit with the language, our hostess just laughed at both of our failed attempts but we managed it in the end. Good meal, Kim ordering the middle sizeof wine ~1 liter I think?.....but never fear she was able to finish it all.
Saw more cats on the way back to our room and now Kim is sound asleep as I slave away in writing this blog..... Enjoy
Greccio, Lazio, Italy
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Labro - Greccio , trekking day III
Enjoyed a fabulous morning breakfast in Labro with our Canadian companions (group of 4 doing a similar route as us) that we meet up with every now and again.
Our destination for the day was another hilltop village of Greccio. Known as a destination for religious pilgrimages. It was here that Saint Francis gave one of his most poetic and potent symbols to the world - the nativity. The town of Greccio and the Franciscan monastery were included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Labro we walked down to a gorgeous agriculturally rich valley. We stopped in Colli sul Velinoto buy bread, cheese and tomatos from the small mercado for lunch.
We past the abandoned village of Respasto and had a peak around some of the crumbling buildings. Hundreds of broken wine bottles fill some of the spaces and even the church still had some frescos hanging on.
Greccio is an old historic village with some semblance of its ancient history but with a modern twist, very different from Labro. There is a large open town square surrounded by hotels, cafes and houses. There is so much religious symbolism, of which most is quite tacky.
Had a really fun dinner with our Canadian counterparts, and again Kim had too much wine.........
Cottanello, Lazio, Italy
Friday, September 18, 2015
Greccio - Cottanello , trekking day IV
Woke up and did a short hilly run to get the legs moving a bit then headed down to breakfast at Hotel Della Fonta. Breakfast involved fighting off a German religious tour group for any scrap of food they did not manage to grab - very entertaining, but we are hungry hikers so watch out!
We headed out at about 9:30 and immediately started to climb to the top of the Sabine Hills. Great views of the Apennines Mountains quickly came into sight. As we began to descend we visited Cappelieta S Francesco, a chapel where St. Francis used to pray (so the legend tells).
We past through ancient woodlands and pleasant meadows, made friends with a large group of horses on the trail and then some cows in a meadow (Piano Spara) where we decided to take lunch.
Soon the village of Cottanello came into view. It is a tiny, remote, picturesque hill town surrounded by mountains instead of olive groves. We found our B&B Residenza Cavour, showered and then took a nap.....
Casperia, Lazio, Italy
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Cottanello - Casperia , trekking day V
Very very quite evening in Cottanello....I think we were the only people in the medieval part of the village. Our host gave us the keys to the B & B then took off until the next morning when she made us a delightful breakfast.
After a quick stop at the village market for some lunch provisions (yummy digestive biscuits) we headed out towards Casperia. We had the option of doing three different routes for the day and we choose to head up Macchia Porrara, a 1202m mountain in the Sabine Hills. A long slog up was rewarded with magnificent views and big cows. On the top you are on a ridge between two plains and on a clear day you can see Saint Peter's dome in the distance. It was a little hazy for us but still amazing. We snacked and then began the long decent through forested tracks and along olive fields. Kim was ambushed "again" by blackberries (even met a gentleman who showed off his blackberry hall to us) but finally made it down to our destination of Casperia.
Perched on a rocky outcrop and bound by the remains of its original stone walls and watchtowers, Casperia is one of the most picturesque medieval villages in the Sabine Hills. Our next B & B La Torretta is within this walled village. Our host Maureen had made reservations for us at Vigna in Piazza Umberto a 5 minute walk away. This restaurant specializes in slow food and is owned by and Englishman who is and olive oil connoisseur.
I need to rest up for our big day tomorrow......an Italian cooking class. Much much harder than hiking in my book.....till tomorrow
Casperia, Lazio, Italy
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Sunday was our optional rest day in the charming medieval hilltop town of Casperia. Our B&B offered "cookery" classes and it seemed like a perfect way to spend a few rest hours on vacation. At least it did to me. Michelle said she would rather clean up, but she came along for the ride. We had a few free hours in the morning so we did some reading, resting, repacking and did a little more sightseeing... It took about an hour to see all of Casperia! The only thing I know we missed was the small replica of the town made by a local resident. He's spent the last 10 years working on his model of the town and his work continues to this day. He was in the local Church on Sunday and we missed it.
Our cookery class started late in the afternoon with a thorough handwashing! Four students (the two of us and a couple from Malta, Pierre and Antonia) along with one instructor and one assistant. We started out with the most important dish, Tiramisu, as it needs time to cool. We separated and beat eggs, mixed in some sugar and mascarpone. Difficult tasks for beginners. We assembled our layered delights alternating the cream mixture with espresso soaked biscuits. Off to the fridge and time to start our next project... Pasta!
We learned about the common varieties of pasta flour used in Italy - coarse, medium and fine. Our pasta would have a mix with mostly coarse flour with some medium and fine. After making flour nests we mixed in eggs, olive oil and salt, slowly incorporating the flour into the liquid. Mixing. Mixing. Mixing. Kneading. Kneading and kneading some more. I am counting Sunday as a strength training day on the exercise calendar! Ravioli dough needs to be soft and pliable. If the dough is too dry and firm, it's rejected and turned into Spaghetti, or at least that's what happened in our class! We filled the ravioli with pumpkin, ricotta, sage, butter and the secret ingredient... Nutmeg! Michelle was the official nutmeg grinder for the afternoon. Everyone had a chance to roll the pasta and try making ravioli and spaghetti. Two important things to note for excellent ravioli: fairly dry filling is a must so the dough isn't soggy and the edges must be well sealed or the tasty filling will fall out during boiling, leaving you with an empty shell of a ravioli... So sad!
Michelle was also the lead aubergine cup assembler... An eggplant Parmesan type dish made in individual servings. Thin strips of roasted aubergine line a cup filled with diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cubes and a dash of basil, salt and Parmesan. Pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes just to warm up the filling.
While Michelle was leading Team Aubergine, I was working to assemble Saltimbocca - thin pieces of veal, prosciutto and a sage leaf held together by a toothpick then dipped in lightly salted flour and baked in the oven with some white wine. I'd never tried this dish before so I was interested to see how it turned out.
The final task for the team was to make Parmesan cups/bowls for our starter salads. Grated Parmesan was added to a small hot frying pan until the cheese melted, sizzled and just started to brown. Then you try to carefully peel the cheese from the pan without folding or dropping it and most importantly, not burning your fingers. There were a few struggles as we worked our dry salty cheesy masterpieces, but there were no failures!
And that was it. The sauces, salad and actual "cooking" were all done by the instructors while we were given some free time after some parting refreshments - Prosecco and salty snacks. I was a little disappointed to hand over my delicate creations and not finish the job, but after a few snacks I was ready for a nap and another lap around the town.
We headed up to dinner a little before 8pm to offer up last minute assistance. There was a large table in the center of the room and several guests milling around. We were promptly escorted to a small table in the back of the room with our cooking classmates...they made us sit at the kids table!
The meal was excellent - although Saltimbocca seemed like meat coated in a flour paste - and we really enjoyed the company of Pierre and Antonia. We learned an incredible amount about life in Malta (and Europe) as well as their take on American politics and school lunches in Malta and the US. Pierre and I share a true love of food, as he's a food importer and I'm a soil scientist and work with farmers. We discussed the intricacies of dairy farming, prescribed grazing, robotic milking and where to visit the most advanced dairy farms in the world in terms of animal treatments, productivity and quality milk. Pierre insists Denmark is the place and that I must visit. Time to get out the map!
Gallo, Lazio, Italy
Monday, September 21, 2015
Casperia - Misciani , trekking day VI
From Casperia we headed out for the fortified village of Roccantica, which is surrounded by forests on the slopes of Mount Pizzuto. The trail leaving Casperia was exceptionally muddy (which clung to our shoes) and a bit overgrown, which causes me to lose our way a little. But we finally got through those slopes and made it to Roccantica of which we had heard so much about. It has several churches and a medieval castle dating from different periods. Unfortunately being that it was Monday everything was closed in the town so we has a nice walk around and then continued on. Then Kim renamed the town Nocanto-go.
The blackberry bushes waylaid Kim throughout the entire day. Met a cute horse who I gave some scratches to and then we found our way up to the Grotto of Saint Michele. Good name I thought... 85 steps up to a natural cave with a shrine inside. It is thought that originally it was sacred to the goddess Vacuna, the Sabine goddess of the waters and the forests. We had our lunch and then continued on to a beautiful saddle/open area of Osteria Faducchi an abandoned old inn with stone picnic tables. We were lounging and enjoying the area when other hikers caught up to us. A Scottish \240German couple who were headed to the same B & B as us. We walked the rest of the way with them to Fienile di Orazio an Agriturismo.
This is a working farm. Everything from wine, olive oil, animals and vegetables. They prepared us a lovely meal and all six of us ate together family style. Kim got to experience eating pork (black pig they raised) off the bone. It was quite a site....
Oh one last thing...four great puppies here who needed a lot of attention
Mompeo, Lazio, Italy
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Misciani - Mompeo , trekking day VII
Today's trek began by retracing some of our last final descent from yesterday. We climbed out of the village to fantastic views where we promptly sat down to enjoy. Ran into our Scottish companions (Liz & Ian) at the top. From there we could see the twin hilltop villages of Salisanoand Mompeo.
Mompeo was the place where the Roman general, Agnes Pompeo, had his own residential villa. Here have been found numerous archaeological sites, among them funeral monuments, remains of villas and the picturesque bridge over the Farfa river. After the Roman Empire, news about Mompeo is found in 817 in the Farfa Register, as the territory belonging to the Abbey. (We are hiking to the Abbey tomorrow)
With a few miles left on the road we met up with our Scottish and German friends - Kim and I collected figs for everyone as we made our way to Agriturismo Le Mole sul Farfa. An organic olive oil farm run by our route designer, Stefano. He is from Rome and had always dreamed about opening up an organic farm. In the region of Rieti there is: the Gorge of Farfa. Only 60 km from Rome and Stefano has worked many years establishing a trail network and protecting this area. Now it has been classified as a national park, due completely to him. He has also discover Roman ruins on his land and we will be getting a tour before we leave here on Thursday.
Dinner was family style, with organic everything. Homemade pasta, bruschetta, egg/ricotta tartlet and a chocolate volcanic cake. Wine and limoncello - everything made on the farm.
Kim's trail fruit collection for the day
Strawberry tree berry
Mompeo, Lazio, Italy
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
We've mentioned a few of our new human friends, the Canadians, the Scots, the Maltese, and the Germans, along with many interesting Italians, but it's really the cats and dogs of Italy that have made our trip very memorable.
Mompeo, Lazio, Italy
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Mompeo - Farfa , trekking day VIII
Today is sadly our last day of scheduled hiking. We are not trekking to our next place to stay, we are hiking to the final hill of San Martino and then getting a lift back to Le Mole sul Farfa the Agriturismo we stayed at last night.
Just after an hour of hiking we came to the small town of Castelnuovo di Farfa. Old streets and a closed down olive museum are all that marked it. We stopped at a market for some bread and cheese when we spied some interesting cookies coated in corn flakes. We couldn't resist and decided to add them to our basket. Turns out they were a chocolate chip biscotti like cookie coated in corn flakes. Interesting. We were sampling them just outside the shop when our German friends walked up to buy their lunch. While sharing cookies and good cheer a young Italian butcher asked us if we wanted to come over and sample his Bologna! How could we resist?
He lead us a few doors down the street to a small butcher shop and offered us samples of fresh ham, mortadella and prosciutto. After a little chit chat he shared that we had just returned to this village two weeks ago after living in Chambersburg, PA for a few years where he was a woodworker/carpenter and his wife, who is still living there, is an architect. Life in PA was tough for him as it's a conservative area with a large population of Amish families. He was struck by how quiet it was and found the life very difficult as a young boisterous, friendly Italian man. He moved back to Castlenuovo di Farfa to help run the family butcher shop currently, owned by his uncle. The shop originally opened in 1869 and his uncle doesn't have anyone children who want to run the business. Our butcher friend returned to see if it would be possible to make a living in this small village. We had a great conversation and tasty samples before buying some extra protein for our lunch. Then we were on our way.
After some fig capturing, falling into ditches and sheep scaring the Abbey of Farfa within the hills of Fara in Sabina with San Martino above it all came into view. We reached the Abbey just after noon and since we had been told that it closed between 12-3 we continued on up to San Martino. The end point of this walking holiday was the Sister Abbey of Farfa the (never completed) Abbey of San Martino. It was quite windy and the clouds were threatening but we had our lunch, enjoyed the views and looked around the ruins before we headed back down to Abbey of Farfa.
So the being closed to 3pm was not entirely accurate, it was actually 3:30 so I sat down in the church square and took a little nap. We toured the church but choose not to get a tour of the Abbey (only given in Italian) before Stefano picked us up.
Our on the foot holiday part of our holiday has come to an end. After getting a tour of the Roman ruins tomorrow morning we then set off to Rome for another couple of days.
Roma, Lazio, Italy
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Today was back to Rome day...but before we headed off, Stefano our host at Le Mole sul Farfabrought us to his Roman villa that he rescued. After breakfast 8 of us guests piled into two cars and drove about 3 minutes to his other property where he lived up to 6 months ago.
Stefano years ago was working with a local group cataloging ancient ruins around the Sabine mountains and came across a property that to him was quite unique. He approached two brothers who at the time raised animals and produced olive oil on a piece of land that had been in their family for generations. They told him about two caves on the property that they used to house their animals. After closer inspection Stefano concluded that these "caves" were not as they seemed. Time passed and eventually he acquired this patch of land and moved there.
Finding something "Roman" actually is not unique in Italy and the local government has no interest or money in preserving any ruins unless very unique, but still the laws are very strict with regards of how you handle them. Stefano for years tried to get local approval to excavate some of these caves, actually just removing all of the poo that had built up over the years to no avail. He developed a strong hate for a local official who would block him at every turn. Even after he acquired some private funding to begin the work the official still blocked him. None of this money was ever able to be used due to lack of official paperwork. So according to him he was fucked (his words). So what next...break the law.
He began his own excavation and made an interesting discovery. As he cleared away tons and tons of poo other tunnels began to appear and new rooms began to become visible. He was able to piece together the possible name of the Roman general who built the villa and the farming that took place there. Olive oil
There is an ancient olive grove on the property and after some experts did some tests it was determined that many of the species of olives found on this site have not been catalogued before. Carbon dating of some of the trees place them at possibility 1000+ years. Meaning they could have been producing during Roman times.
The land and ruins now been placed in national park status all due to Stefano persistence in preserving this wonderful history. He still farms the land and produces olive oil from these trees and hopes one day to excavate more of the ruins. The tour he gives is only for people who stay at his Agriturismo and his own pleasure in sharing this history.
Roma, Lazio, Italy
Friday, September 25, 2015
We are in Rome and the pope is in the US, interesting....well we decided to visit the Vatican today. Toured Saint Peters Basilica, the Sistine chapel and the Vatican museum. Was able to climb to the top of Saint Peters Basilica, into the cupola. It was quite a spectacular view of St. Peter's square. Opulence is the word that kept popping into my head all day. Never the less Amazing...just amazing!
Oh we also ran into our hiking Canadian friends tonight as we were heading back to our B & B after dinner. Great to catch up and say goodbye to some great folks we met on our travels.