First Day Travels

Trip Start May 22, 2007
Trip End Jun 04, 2007

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Travelblog Entry 2 Frascati, Italy
Today's lesson: Italy is pretty far away and we should not take for granted that travel there will be easy.

We have arrived in Italy and have made our way to our Pensione in Frascati. The flights were fine, but long. Our connection in Gatwick was too short and the gates were too far apart, but everyone needs some running to stay in shape, I suppose. BA did not bring my father's or my luggage and we have to resolve that fairly soon. The pensione did not have our reservation via Expedia, but after some haggling, they had room and honored the reservation.

I have to admit that I was getting pretty down as we got deeper into the lost luggage fiasco. The real turnaround came from Buck. He could not contain his excitement and headed out to explore Frascati. He came back in really jazzed and took us out to see. The citizens of Frascati practice the 'passagiata' before their evening meal. The whole town was out strolling, shopping, chatting, hanging, eating gelato and being seen. We joined in and had an expresso or two and finally made our way to a trattoria recommended by the clerk in our pensione. We walked past it several times before we found it. That was cool because every corner opens new magic. We would turn a corner and find a new hidden piazza teeming with activity. The central piazza is dominated by a lovely baroque church fašade. Around a few corners is a market piazza which is shaded by massive sycamore trees.

Our visit to the trattoria was special. No one there spoke any English and we were not too effective with Italian. (I remember a few key phrases: aqua minerale, pizza capricciosa, vino rosso.) Despite this, they took time to show us different kinds of foods, explain different dining options and served us with a big smile. The pizza was amazing. There is a certain fresh quality and flavor that I have never been able to duplicate in my pizza making. I also don't have the wood fired brick oven that flash cooks the pizza, either. We spent a couple of hours munching pizza, sipping the wine and mineral water. Afterwords, despite being up for almost two days, we strolled a bit more and then found gelato and expresso. Buck and I watched the sun go down from the piazza in front of the hotel. We all slept well and woke refreshed on Thursday.

Frascati is a hill town about 15 miles southeast of Rome. It is one of the 'Castelli Romani' which were hill towns that the rich and powerful used as respite from Rome. It has several magnificent villas. Our hotel is right at the fulcrum of the town. To our right, you can see out over the valley and into Rome, although the haze has made it impossible to find any landmarks thus far. To our left, we see up the hill through the grounds to a Villa built in the 16th century for a rich papal nephew. The entire area is rich with mature trees, park space and lovely piazza spaces. Behind us, the town of Frascati is a tangled jumble of medieval streets-all narrow and cobblestoned. Streets are short and often twisted and then open into hidden piazza. It buzzes with mopeds and tiny cars and the Italians wandering their passagiata.
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