We did it! According to plan, we got up at 5:00 AM and got ready for early morning sightseeing. It’s a great way to beat the tourists and experience Rome’s local flavor—men and women waiting at the street corners, rushing for transit, picking up the morning paper or standing at the coffee bar tipping back thimbles full of thick, dark expresso.
Since we were in the famed city, we decided to do as Romans do and walked into one of the many coffee-bars open at six in the morning. Standing at the long marble bar, we each ordered croissants and Ron, a cappuccino.
There are no tables or chairs inside, but several outside sat empty waiting for the tourists. Local patrons are in and out of those small establishments very quickly, making room for a new rush. There’s some light conversation and polite greetings, but no one’s there for a lengthy visit. Coffee is served lukewarm and consumed quickly. “Buongiorno” “ciao” (pronounced chow) and “arriviederci” echo endlessly.
The croissants were delicious, sliced in half and filled with a creamy custard. The cappuccino was, in Ron’s opinion, one of the best he’s ever had. The best part…the whole experience was surprisingly inexpensive—€2.60 was the total bill.
Speaking of good surprises, on our way to Tuscany, we stopped at a little pizzeria in the Monti Sabatini area and thought we were ordering a slice or small individual pizza (considering the prices on the menu ranged from €3.00 – €7.00) We were shocked when the waitress brought us each our own 14 inch pizza.
Groceries are cheap in Italy, too, it you know where to shop. We found a grocery store on our way to our villa in Tuscany and stocked up on bread, cheese, 2 bottles of wine, a six pack of water, fresh tomatoes and fruit. It all came to just over €15.00.
Our Tuscan villa is charming. Called the “Libraria,” it has a sitting room with books flanking a marble fireplace, a cute kitchen, separate bedroom, and our own very private balcony, overlooking rolling hills dotted with Cyprus trees. Shortly after arriving, we met Riccardo and Sherry, the owners, and a cat named Mowgli.
Mowgli’s back to visit us again. We had to open the windows to clear the smoke after lighting the fire and the lithe black cat with bright yellow eyes jumped right in and made himself at home, purring on the sofa beside us as we relax, listen to music and enjoy the crackling fire.
I can’t sign off without mentioning our mode of transportation. Our rental is a cute little Chevy Spark—without a doubt the smallest car I’ve ever been in. We fit right in with all the little Fiats and Smart cars on the roads. In fact, every car manufacturer is represented on the streets of Italy’s towns and cities—just in smaller models than we are used to seeing in Canada. And despite the warnings about drivers in Italy, we braved the streets and freeways and toll highways and found our way out of Rome and into the much quieter countryside of Tuscany. We’re looking forward to a day of sightseeing tomorrow around Siena.
Internet connection is not as common as you’d think here, so these posts may be coming irregularly. Even so, I’m still writing, documenting this amazing trip.