Bagno Vignoni was close to where we stayed – so we caught a glimpse of it on our way from Montepulciano, on that evening. It is a resort town. a very small one. built on hot springs. They do not let you into the big pool, only if you use the hotel pools which are around 30-40 e per person, or you can immerse your feet into luke warm water flowing from the big pool: A man is washing his feet in hardly warm water canal: The evenings in Tigliola were really beautiful: The next morning we stopped at Montalcino – it could be seen from Tigliola, but driving on winding roads was further. It has a big castle, small downtown of which this church looked to me the best:Then not so close by. but we still decided to see abbey of St. Antimo – it stands alone in a valley: It was very dark inside, big columns and only one stained glass window. But a meadow around it with white little flowers-ￂﾠ was a really calming and delightful place!Views from the town above the abbey: Then we drove and drove until we reached Siena! And it was super! Siena is a city almost equal to Florence in regards of art treasures it has. Till next time in Siena!
After regaining some energy in the hot springs we drove North on winding mountain roads. The sights were beautiful, several hill towns here and there, but no time to stop and check them up… We had to find our next place of stay. It was 7 km from San Quirico d’Orcia – a nice town with nice parks and of course-ￂﾠ churches:ￂﾠￂﾠ But the main attraction for us was when we noticed their covers of utility panels. Each of them had a different picture of mice-ￂﾠ oh those Italians, they make even such details aesthetic!ￂﾠ There we bought food for the next 2 nights we were staying in the middle of nowhere-ￂﾠ in a Pogio – like an estate surrounded by fields and watched the sunset.To tell the truth – those 7 km to the estate were not my favorite, the road was not good at all. It is just for farmers and smart business people who turn the old estate into an exotic Inn: We had a 2 story apartment with a kitchen an all. The other apartments were even bigger making the Poglio fit for family reunions and parties. The owner lives in Pienza, he comes occasionally, for with this big wave of emigrants from Eastern Europe it is so easy to have a lady who comes to let you in, to instruct and then do your room after you leave.ￂﾠ The is the road we drove…With farming fields and a single tree here and there:Next day – to Pienza and Montepulciano.
From Pitigliano it is a beautiful drive to Saturnia hot springs-ￂﾠ no more than 30 km. They are called Cascates de Gorello and they are the best! No nudity and free! the temperature is perfect. some sulfur smell – good! In addition you sit in those natural cascaded pools on very round little stones, like on some peas, you can massage your hands and feet! : The springs from the road in front of them: Then we visited 2 hill-towns -Sovano and Sorano. Similar names. And the towns are similar, but different! I liked Sovano more-ￂﾠ it has nice parks, nice little gardens with blooming irises and trees and a very existential empty main square: Sorano is on a cress of a hill by a very deep canyon. it is picture perfect. but scary to get to its edges. It also has a restored big castle:From the first sight it may also look similar to Pitigliano…Middle ages…Modern cities also look the same… Next morning we wanted some pampering again, so we drove to Cascates de Gorello, relaxed, healed and then off towards our new sightseeing!
We rented a small car at Sixt by Ciampino, it was only 119 e for 8 days – a good price. It is not hard to drive in Italy if it is not in Rome. In Rome traffic is very intensive, the streets are complicated, some with trams, and not surprisingly there a traffic jams. But Ciampino airport is by a highway and in the middle of the day it was a good drive out of the metropolitan area. 40 km north we reached a town Monterosi, and from there turned towards a lake on a small road. The countryside was beautiful, the warm and peaceful day reflected on the lake:The town by the lake is calledￂﾠ Trevignano Romano, is very picturesque and is loved by Romans for getaways: Fancy chimneys: There were several hill towns on our way, but we stopped only in one -Montefiascone. There we climbed the hill in the center, admired the cathedral and enjoyed the swings on top of the hill in the park with the far away views! The cathedral is build on the side of the hill leaving the top for the park. But the interesting part of it wasￂﾠ that it was of octagon shape, very unusual. The other interesting feature-ￂﾠ it was built on an old Roman temple, turned into a church – mausoleum for St. Lucia. Her body is in the center of the octagon, mummified, I guess, in a fancy glass coffin. It is evidently an example of one of those strange Italian fascinations with mummies and reliquaries: We reached Pitigliano at dusk. Made total of 185 km, not so many but we got tired. This was the most exotic stay of our trip. It is called Grotto on Booking.com. In the very center there used to be a place to house horses. the new owner Anna turned it into a very cozy apartment built literally in a steep vertical rock! With modern amenities, kitchen and all a person needs. There were windows towards the valley of a stream very very low down. Luckily – we didn’t need to climb up or down to the Grotto because the center of the town was there. Well, we had to go down one flight of stairs only, so here it is: The red doors are ours: This is the view from our entrance or exit: Pitigliano is a town of inner gardens and stairs. I wonder how old people manage to survive: This church was seen also form our doors towards the other side of the deep valley:Pitigliano at night: A view from the other end of town: ￂﾠￂﾠ ￂﾠￂﾠￂﾠￂﾠￂﾠ This is the cathedral of Pitigliano: St. Mouse or Rat? The castle-palace of theￂﾠ nobleman who ruled the town, it was being restored:We walked around two mornings and two evenings and the rest of the days we spent driving to some other hill towns and the hot springs.
It took us almost 3 h by train to reach Rome. Then walked close to half hour to the apartment – it was the closest to the station we could find. Rome is huge. And the apartment was super cute, but as all things in life-ￂﾠ not ideal – it was on the 5th floor-ￂﾠ so much climbing after hiking in Rome every day for the whole day… This is the view from our balcony down to the yard, so it was a super quiet apt:Rome-ￂﾠ we saw the same nice places, walked the same nice walks as the last time and also some new. To tell the truth it didn’t impress that much this time…Maybe you have to stay there longer and not to walk as much :-): This time the Spanish stairs were not in repair, so we could experience their atmosphere and see people enjoying them: A drug store-ￂﾠ we used to have like that in Lithuania-ￂﾠ butￂﾠ greediness of freshly established capitalism destroyed all of them…: Viaￂﾠ Apia Antica – the old road to Rome where Catholics used to be buried because they were not permitted to be buried in the city in Roman times. It is conveniently located by Ciampino airportￂﾠ – so after renting a car we hiked a little on this part of Via Apia with its fantastic pine trees: Bishop’s hat – this is how this grave is called: So after that we got onto the highway and drove North, towards Tuscany.
It was last beginning of March. We visited my parents in Lithuania for a couple of weeks and then flew to Napoli directly from Kaunas, my city. It is a good flight, a convenient one.ￂﾠ But we did not plan to travel in Southern Italy, just used the direct flight and then a train to Rome. After a couple of days in Rome we planned to rent a car and drive North to Tuscany. After our travel experiences we decided that it is more fun to stay in one place at least for 2-3 nights, so we arranged our trip based on that principle. Also – we looked for attractive places to stay at, so it defined the towns where we were staying. We flew to Napoli pretty early, in the morning, so we had some time to leave our bags in the train station and walk around town a little:The center was kind of claustrophobic -ￂﾠ for me the streets were too narrow and churches tucked in between buildings so much so that you may not even notice that there was a church. but we found the Domo – cathedral” Lots of different figurines by cafes and shops: It was a Mardi Gra day – so kids were dressed inￂﾠ costumes, parents taking there pictures. Like following a strange tradition – rarely a kid seemed very happy in his costume…they were just doi8ng what they were supposed to do – to trash their squares and streets throwing confetti and something that looked like liquid chewing gum. Which made me feel very sorry for the street cleaners…A little “lady bug”: There were also processions in pedestrian streets collecting money for their parishes: The most typical Napoli street to me: We even didn’t stay long enough in the city, got tired and went to wait for the train by the station. Trains in Italy are far from the quality trains in Japan…I don’t mind their seating arrangements and softness, I mind the noise that immigrants make by talking on their phones for hours…I guess phone services are very cheap there. But what can you doￂﾠ – nothing is perfect during a trip. In Rome we rented and apartment through Air B&b close to train station – why to carry the bags. Stayed for 3 nights, then 2 nights in Pitigliano, 2 nights in Tigliola by Quirico d’Orcia, 3 nigths in Sienna and back to Rome, a sleep on the way by some lake. the trip was good, saw a lot, enjoyed even hot springs, but the very last part of our drive to Rome on its circle highway we got stuck in such traffic jam, that had nerves over the top to get in time to the airport…Travels are rarely unstressed…
Because Rome is so endlessly beautiful, here are some more things we saw while walking…We happened to go by a wax museum – so here is Leonardo painting his Gioconda in its window:And here are us girls with our selected heroes meeting by the museum doors: Strange as it is -parrots live in the street of Rome! Poor Faust: And more and more: The Spanish Stairs: Those columns are not real – they are painted:-)!
One of the days we dedicated to the Cathedral and the Vatican museum. What else could there be – it is too small and to restricted in other areas. And as I mentioned previously – there were no lines at ticket offices. We planned to eat our snacks while standing in a line-ￂﾠ so we had to do it before :-). Do not get anxious and buy Vatican Museum tickets beforehand on-line or iin other prominent basilicas where they even keep special booths and people working them – offering tickets for much higher price. Maybe in busy season that makes sense, not in December definitely. So here are the Vatican gardens ant the inside arts and halls and long super decorated corridors, so rich and immense and varied, that in a couple of hours we came out dizzy…The stairs that are modern: I never stopped admiring different mosaics of the floors and richly painted ceilings and cupolas: ￂﾠ Those strange things were in a Greek section – i have no clue what they are 🙂
As I wrote previously – we started towards via Apia from the place we stayed, walked and walked, and when we reached it – it was pretty narrow and traffic was brushing our sides…Until at some point they directed traffic to another street and we were on a comfy path parts of it from the ancient cobble stones: The St. Calistus Catacombs – they were closed when we reached them. but the top part was impressive and relaxing enough: There was a building on the way with such a variety of cacti in front of it – I was mesmerized! There were churches on the way and of course-ￂﾠ there were sculptures iin them/ Even the footprints of St. Peter or Jesus, oh, I forgot…Because at that place St. Peter met Jesus who told him to return to the city and continue the Christening:
Here is the best part of Via at last! But my company got tired and we had to turn back… One of the gates to Rome with a strange Pyramid, the structure one least expects to see in Rome of all places: That evening we ate in a nice cafe -night bar while they had a buffet-snacks with drinks. Close by what an interesting shop as if from a fairy tale -a man making solely Pinoccios: Againￂﾠ -we finished the day in Transtevere, where to sit in the middle of its square and look into the flocks of birds doing different figures, listening to various musicians playing- what else can be better? The next day we went up to the hills behind Transtevere – it is also very worth going:
It took me a long time to find time to prepare some pictures from our Rome trip a year ago. We went in December, but not during Christmas, way before it. For a week, with my friend Dainora. And it was perfect. The best thing – no crowds, not at all. There was not a single person by the ticket offices in Vatican museum – that tells all :-). And the weather is just right for wandering endlessly in the city and around it. We didn’t get any rain, just perfect Italian skies! Which I recognized as perfect only on this trip – they are really something! The clouds and how they are set in the sky were different for my eyes this time and they were just beautiful. And everything else was amazing – how can it not be – it is the capital of Italy. With such a history! We admired so many churches, so many old sculptures and some new ones, the views of the city from above its 7 hills, the parks and the rich citizens’ houses, and there are still more left to visit. We walked a lot, a lot, took a bus only once from Via Apia. So here it is, the beautiful Rome! Here is the place where we lived. It was exotic – in a yard of a huge museum of Oriental art! Guess what – we didn’t find time to visit the museum…We found this apartment through Air B&B, you can see it in that building after the bridge in the first floor. It seemed to have been part of the museum. but now restored to a rather comfortable apartment with a living room-kitchen, a very big bathroom and a bedroom, just right for 3 people:ￂﾠ The calm autumn light in Rome was just right for the still hanging leaves on the trees: The view from a not to miss basilica St. Peter in Vincoli and Peter’s vincoli: We are standing on ancient stones, going to the Forum! The bridges over Tiber river, the river itself, so amazing: The little market in the middle of downtown with “a showman” who had quite a performance convincing us to buy his vegetable shredder: But somehow I picked a part of Rome I liked best and I’d like to live there for a while – a dream :-). It is on the other side of Tiber – Transtevere: Those are camellias-ￂﾠ I imagine how it is when they bloom! Here again in the center – Pantheon with its mysterious hole in the top – no rain comes from it! The Trevi Fountain: To be continued!