All roads lead to Rome

 

Our three last days in Italy were as special as the first four. Tuesday was spent catching up on a few things that were still on our to-do list for Rome. We started with a visit to the ancient ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. Built in 216 AD, they were used as both a social event as well as a bathing ritual. Of course, the ingenious Romans invented the aqueduct system.

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We followed that visit with one to a museum which contained a crypt. This had to be the strangest thing we had ever seen. Apparently, when the bones of the Capuchin monks had to be exhumed and moved, someone had the bright idea to create mosaics with the bones and skulls. The walls and ceilings of the crypts were covered in skeletons, but mostly decorations made with bones, including clocks and flowers. We weren’t able to take pictures, but you can let your imagination run wild and it probably still wouldn’t be able to come up with what we saw in that building. Weird!

In order to wipe that memory from our minds, we made another attempt to visit the Trevi fountain. This time we succeeded in getting close to it, and getting some good pictures. By this time, it was rush hour and we knew the Metro would be too crowded, so we forced ourselves to have a little refreshment at a nearby Chianti bar.

Wednesday, we rented a little Fiat Panda and headed for the Amalfi coast. Getting out of Rome in morning traffic was a hair-raising experience. Try to imagine thousands of cows coming from all different directions being herded into three rows with no apparent rhyme or reason. Meanwhile, little calves are scampering around among the larger cows (these would be the fearless Vespa drivers). At one point, I looked up and saw a tram coming toward us and realized we were sitting on the tracks. Luckily, the driver stopped.

We were both very relieved to finally reach the autostrade and head south. Our first stop was Sorrento, a pretty town on the coast. We went to a public beach and parked ourselves under a beach umbrella to relax for a few hours. Mount Vesuvius was across the bay from us, and we wondered if it was spewing lava, but it turned out to be a fire on one side, apparently a fire which was deliberately set in the vineyards to renew the growth.

After a couple of hours we headed further down the coast to Positano, a delightfully beautiful town on the Gulf of Naples. The road from Sorrento to Positano twists and curves along the mountainside, and it continues to twist through the town. We found a precious parking spot, intending to walk down to the beach. We only realized how high we were parked when we descended the 535 steps to beach level. We had a refreshment to fortify us for the climb back up, grabbed the car, moved to the other side of town, and found a wonderful restaurant overlooking the bay. We dined with a refreshing breeze and a beautiful view of the buildings clinging to the mountainside, colorful with flowering vines, and boats of all sizes anchored in the water below us.

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On our way home in the dark, Steve decided he liked driving through the twists and turns at a faster-than-I-would-have-liked speed. The Vespas were weaving in and out of the traffic, passing on corners, not seeming to worry about oncoming cars. My husband suggested I film the crazy drive, but I was too concentrated on keeping my supper somewhere south of my throat. It was a great day, but I was glad to drop off the car at the end of it.

Thursday was our last full day in Rome. We booked a wine tour to the Frascetti region about 45 minutes away from the city center. We had a nice air-conditioned bus with an Italian-American by the name of Angela as our guide. She certainly knew her history of Italy and Rome. We were well-informed and entertained during the tour. It was the typical hilly countryside that we see in all the pictures and films. The vineyard we visited is owned by a royal family of Italy and they produce high-quality wine and olive oil. The tour of the actual vineyards was followed by a wine-tasting of four different wines. By the time we made our way to the bus for the trip home, we were all very happy and friendly.

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Now, our memorable trip has ended and we are waiting for our flight to Quebec to board. Soon, we’ll be back home, and we’ll have to get used to not eating pasta and drinking wine everyday. Maybe.

 

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