The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur In Italy
July 22 - Rome/Umbria

Time to get out of town! Rome was interesting but we are really not city people and after a while the noise and pace of the place gets to you. I'm glad we went, but we are ready for something a bit more bucolic.

We rented a car this morning. I certainly am glad that it is Saturday as it made it even slightly possible for a rookie to take on the Rome traffic and have half a chance of surviving. Of course, Margene said that's how I drive anyway so what's the big deal? We picked up Eric and Karen, somehow managed to jam all the bags into the car (including a huge one that had to live in the back seat!)

We can't check into the house until 5:00, so we headed 20 miles east of Rome to the site of Hadrian's Villa. This was built by the Emperor Hadrian as a "summer getaway" and looks like an early model for Versailles! Apparently this area was the site of several similar complexes over the years. After awhile, I got ruined for ruins, but at Hadrian's there were no crowds and we had amazing access to the structures themselves. Karen and I wandered down an old slave tunnel for nearly a quarter mile. All the movement of materials was done underground so as not to offend the sensibilities of the vacationing senators above. Being a slave may not have been all bad -- the tunnel was delightfully cool!

We wandered the back roads of Italy until we finally found our way to the Autostrada, a well-maintained drag strip cleverly disguised as a divided highway. The speed limit is 80 (kph), the flow of traffic was between 120 and 140 and drivers were regularly blowing by everyone like they were parked! It worked for me. It saved a lot of time, certainly, but we were definitely disconnected from the countryside.

As you may know, we rented a house in Umbria for a week with Eric Favier, Karen Cooley, Hildie Rosselli and Ella Taylor. Eric and Karen own Chez Pierre Restaurant in Tallahassee. Hildie and Ella are old friends of theirs. The house is called I Portici for the porticos that surround it. It is three stories high with four bedrooms, three baths . . . and half the house isn't even accessible to us! The owner lives in Rome and the rentals are handled by a firm in England.

It is right outside a little medieval town called Citta della Pieve which dates from Etruscan times. We wandered in for a delightful dinner last night and I am looking forward to exploring it in the daylight.

Hadrian's Villa

Citta della Pieve and the Umbria house

Trattoria de Salvano

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