For our last full day in Tuscany, we decided to take it easy. Instead of rushing to a winery first thing in the morning, as we did the previous two days, we finally explored the agriturismo we were staying at – Casa Rondini. It really amazes me how much work is put into this working farm – not only does the owner Franco cook dinner three times a week for his guests, but he also tends a garden that’s brimming with everything from peppers to basil to eggplant, takes care of his farm animals, and even makes his own wine. Unbelievable.
So after a tranquil morning consisting of feeding Gilda the Donkey and the chickens on the farm, and tasting some of Franco’s wine grapes, it was time to head to Perugia for a little sightseeing, lunch and views over the city (seen above). As the capital of the Umbrian region, what will stay with me the most about Perugia is the underground portion of the city. After taking a funicular into town (about 2 euros, roundtrip), you embark on a series of escalators within the lower town that leads you through the remains of the 16th century fortress Rocco Paolina. Approximately three long escalator rides later, you finally see sunlight again in the living city that lies above these medieval ruins. While making our slow ascent, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many cities are built upon old cities (i.e. Rome). After all, why didn’t people just clear the rubbish (although, large) and build from there instead of on top of it? If someone has an answer to this, as well as insight into other buried cities with functioning cities above it, please let me know! I really am curious about it.
After lunch in Perugia, we drove to the Italian peninsula’s largest lake – Lake Trasimeno. Once called the Lake of Perugia, Lake Trasimeno is not a manmade lake (ahem, Kristen). It’s actually an endorheic body of water, which means it’s a confined lake that receives water, but doesn’t have an outlet. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at Lake Trasimeno, we had just missed the ferry that would take us to Isola Maggiore, the second largest island on the lake, and had to wait over an hour for the next one. Considering we didn’t have much to do anyway, we decided it was time for some Italian gelato while we watched the local boys fish. Well, I hate to say this, but it was not worth the wait. Although the 30-minute boat ride was pleasant enough, we only had either 15 minutes or nearly 2 hours on the island before the next scheduled return boat ride, and trust me, there is not much to see on this island. Really, nothing. Rien de tout. Luckily, there was a little café open so after hiking around this ghost island that probably has more rabbit inhabitants than humans, we nursed our boredom with a bottle of vino while watching the sunset, lakeside, and then had dinner on mainland. For future Lake Trasimeno visitors, be sure to consult the ferry schedule next time so you don’t make the same mistake. Here’s a link I found to the latest timetable (valid from September 23 to October 26, 2013).
We started our last day with a quick visit to Orvieto, as it was on our way to Rome. Located just north of Italy’s capital, this hillside town is known as the “CIty of the Cliff” because it sits on a big chunk of volcanic rock called tuff. Most famous for its cathedral’s ornate façade and a blood-stained cloth relic, the Orvieto Duomo was built over several centuries (13th to 17th) and is the centerpiece of the town. Honestly, after having seen a number of old, impressive churches in my 32 years, what stood out to me was the interesting black-and-white geometric side.
Post-Orvieto, we continued our drive to Rome where Kristen, Steve and I would part ways as I headed back to Paris and they continued their Italian adventure. Before saying ciao, we had our final meal together where I was able to indulge in one of my favorite Italian dishes (cacio e pepe – delicious!). Then I was off to kill a few hours in Rome tout seul since Kristen and Steve had reservations to visit the Vatican and there was no way i was going to torture myself with the mass of tourists being herded through the museum. I was honestly so hot and perhaps in a bit of a food coma at this point though, that I didn’t really feel like doing much and decided to stay fairly close to Termini Train Station so I could easily grab the train to the airport. So I decided to take a leisure 30-minute walk to San Pietro in Vincoli (AKA the church of Saint Peter in Chains) to see Michaelangelo’s famous Moses statue and the chains that bound Saint Peter. After taking the requisite photos, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I might’ve taken a nap there. Oui, c’est vrai. Like I said, it was hot and I was recovering from a food coma. So after my little power nap, I took one final stroll by the Colosseum before cooling off with one last gelato (food coma was gone by then) and began my journey home to Paris.
If you missed my other posts about Tuscany, here’s a post about days 1 through 3, and some additional Instagram photos. Overall, it was a wonderful way to catch up with friends and see a new part of Italy I hadn’t ever experienced. There aren’t many friends you can easily travel with and enjoy, but I’m glad to say that Kristen and Steve are definitely two of them.