all roads lead to rome
April 23, 2015 Civitavecchia
Except not our road - not today.
Civitavecchia is the port for Rome. Rome wasn't built in a day and it cannot be seen in a day! Ok, I won't use anymore cheesy Rome cliches. Mostly because I can't think of anymore.
We didn't really want to go in to Rome on this trip. It's about a 90 minute drive from the port. We love Rome but it's a city that you need to take time to experience. We are going to be there next spring and are looking forward to spending a few days in the Eternal City
So, I was really intrigued when Margie posted on Cruise Critic that she was looking for others to join a Share a Shore Excursion tour to Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio. There were 8 of us on the tour - James and I were the only non-Floridians.
Our guide Tino loaded us in the van and we were off. The drive to Orvieto was about an hour and 45 minutes and it was really interesting. We were on some winding roads that took us through farm land and forest areas. It was really green. Lots of olive trees, grapes, sheep and cattle. And there was wifi in the van.
We made it to Orvieto before it got too busy. Tino parked on the side of the Duomo (cathedral) and I was totally intrigued by the black and white striped marble on the side. Then we walked to the front. What?!? I have never seen the front of a cathedral like this before. It was completely decorated with mosaic and carvings depicting the bible stories. The sunlight bounced off all the gold tiles. Breathtaking. It was built in 1290 and is a stunning example of Italian Gothic.
The church was built to house a very holy cloth. Back in the 1200's, a priest was questioning transubstantiation (when the communion host becomes the body and blood of Christ) when a miracle happened. The communion host that he broke started to bleed. All the blood stained the cloth on the alter and that cloth is stored inside the cathedral.
Tino told us to meet back for lunch and we were set free. I love Orvieto! It is so charming. We looked in shops - there are nice leather products here and lots of food shops. You can buy a bottle of Orvieto wine for €3. I bought a very soft leather bag from a brother and sister team who were cutting and sewing leather right in the shop. We walked through courtyards that opened to the most stunning views of the Umbrian countryside. I loved strolling the streets and could have stayed there all day. Tino told us there is also an underground tour. We will have to come back and do that some day.
We met the group for lunch at a rather odd restaurant. It seemed too formal for lunch but the food was good. James had a field salad to start which was basically a bowl of prickly weeds. His pasta was better. The Orvieto wine in the restaurant was €9 for a half litre. What? We just saw how cheap it was in the shops! Oh well...
After lunch we headed to Civita di Bagnoregio. At first we looked at it from up top. Wow! Words can't describe it. It looks almost magical. We drove over to the bridge area to cross. Most of our group decided not to cross the pedestrian bridge - they felt the climb was too much. This is the only way to get in the village. The tickets were €1.50.
The walk over the bridge and up the side was a bit windy (as you can hear in this short video clip) and it got quite steep close to the top. The views in the valley are amazing. In the cooler months about 20 people live here but in the spring/summer there are up to 300 residents. Mostly writers and poets. There are a lot of cats (video) and really good smelling restaurants. I wish we would have had lunch here. We saw the olive oil press and bruschetta place from Rick Steves video. It sure smelled delicious! The place is so cute and enchanting. It is eroding and some of it has been lost to the valley in an earthquake. There is a group working to save the hillside town. The ground is not stable around it but I sure hope they are successful.
When we crossed back over the bridge to meet the group, they were all drinking red wine - Tino's treat. He's super nice! He also gave us a bottle of olive oil when he dropped us off at the ship.
This was a fabulous tour. I really enjoyed both of our stops. They were unique and interesting. I would recommend Share a Shore Excursion - booking was very easy and they were professional and reliable.
Back on the ship we decided to eat dinner at the Dive-In. There were cannoli in the dessert area so we had to try them. Here are James' thoughts.
We watched the sunset and gave the day two thumbs up!
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