A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

The gift of a visit

When you live in an amazing place, you can sometimes take the amazingness of it all for granted. It’s not that you don’t notice things around you, or pause for moments of gratitude when you remember how lucky you are to be where you are, in the present. It’s just in the day to day, when you find yourself caught up in the momentary struggles, you can forget to be grateful and amazed. We had friends spend the weekend with us and not only did we have fun, but we got to enjoy Rome and our life here from a fresh perspective, again.

I was delighted to see the Coloseum at sunset. I noticed that two of the walls inside the Pantheon are different than the rest; not covered in marble, but just bare bricks. I took our friends to a lovely small leather shop and felt the joy of turning on someone new to the beautiful and simple bracelets there.

I saw a seal in the ground in St. Peters Square where if you stand and look at the building in front of you, the columns seem to disappear. I got lost for a few moments, and remembered the maze that is the City Center. I introduced our visiting friends to our Roman friends and was reminded that we’ve created a “family” of friends  for ourselves here, in a relatively short time. My tastebuds got delighted again over a lovely dinner at MOMA.

So here’s to friends, old and new, and the joy they help us to remember. Thanks Kathy and Ken; travel safely.

Umbrian Adventure


Our wine supply from Tuscany was running low, and while there are good wines available from regions closer to Rome, we decided to travel to Perugia, the capital of Umbria, and see what we could find.

Umbria (pronounced “oombria”) is the region to the north of Lazio (where Rome is located) and to the east of Tuscany (Florence and Sienna are a few of the main cities in Tuscany). It lies to the west of the Marches, which includes Italy’s eastern coast. Umbria is known for its green rolling hills, and is home to the Apennines mountains. Assisi, the home of St. Francis, is located in Umbria. There’s great information about Umbria available on many websites…I happen to be a fan of Wikipedia.

We wanted to visit a winery on our way to Perugia, a 2 hour drive from Rome, so I consulted the web and found a nice website, Wine Trail Traveler, that listed some wineries to visit. I picked the Lungarotti Winery in Torgiano, because it looked to offer a nice selection of wines and to be just a short drive off the main road. Knowing we would be arriving near lunchtime, I also searched for a restaurant in Torgiano in which to eat.

It turned out that the winery was closed when we arrived, so we headed to lunch, hoping to visit it afterwards. TripAdvisor had recommended Albergo Restaurant Siro as the best restaurant in town, and it is as fabulous as it’s reviews. Fabrizio our waiter was top-notch and delightful. We oohed and ahhed over the appetizer plate and I almost had an orgasm while eating my sunflower ravioli with truffles. The prices seemed so cheap compared to Roma! Fabrizio indulged me by letting Michael take our picture, which I wanted after hearing his story about his heart transplant some years ago. Amazing! The restaurant was so good that we ate there again for lunch on our way home the next day!

Brufani Palace pool

Pleasantly stuffed from lunch, we again tried to visit the Lungarotti Winery and it still wasn’t open, so we decided to just head to the Brufani Palace Hotel in Perugia where we would spend the night. It’s rated to be a 5 star hotel, but seemed a bit tired. Our room, while small, did have a lovely view of Perugia and the Umbrian hills. There was an indoor pool/spa that had a glass bottom in one section that overlooked Etruscan ruins and we were lucky enough to be the only ones using it at the time.

We wandered the streets of the old city in Perugia, which sits high up on the hill. There’s a series of escalators that were built running through a medevial fortress, which we explored, that brings you up from the bus terminal below to the city center. We browsed through a local crafts fair going on in the old city, bought and ate hand made Perugian chocolates, and  enjoyed wine that evening at a local enoteca (wine shop/wine bar).

Umbrian Sunset

Saturday morning we continued to explore the old city and stumbled upon a small food market where we bought fresh green olives, delicious biscotti, amazing locally made pecorino cheese and inexpensive wines from a small nearby winery. On our way back to Rome in the afternoon, as I said, we again ate at the Albergo Restaurante Siro in Torgiano. The waiters winked at us upon our return, but based on it’s reviews, we weren’t the first people to eat there days in a row!

Again, the Lugorotti winery wasn’t open! Our friend Riccardo, however, had recommended we visit the MonteVibiano Winery near Marciano, so we set the navigator and wandered through the beautiful green countryside to the winery. They were providing a wine lesson and tasting to a group of restaurant workers from Germany during our visit, so we were the only tasters at the counter and were lucky enough to be offered tastings from their selections, along with those normally offered by the winery. We bought a few bottles to take home along with boxes of perfectly packaged individual servings of olive oil that had just been pressed the previous day.

While we only touched the tip of the Umbrian “iceberg”, it wetted our appetites for another visit in the future.

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