Return to Roma
Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
232Trip End Feb 28, 2007
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A terrible breakfast. Everybody seemed to be in the dining room at the same time. It was what one could describe as an Italian bun fight. The food was very unappealing. I ate very little. On to the bus at 7.45...what an atrocious time of the day to be up and about when on holiday...and we were off to Siena.
A lovely ride through the hills and then a long walk up a street leading to the main square of Sienna whose main claim to fame is its annual horse race around the campo. A strange shaped square because it wasn't. It was more of an ellipsoid on a slope with the fountain an one of its sides rather than in the middle. All was cobbled...modern cobbling...and surrounded by bars, cafes and tabacs. The four of us just sat under an umbrella and enjoyed coffees and buns
Our next stop was at a place called Serre di Rapolano. Well off the tourist track for a change this was a real old castle which was in the process of being fully restored and turned into a four star hotel. The family's son came out to greet us and he explained what they had accomplished since they bought it several years ago. I fully approved of what they had done. They had taken a ruin, cleaned it up, rebuilt much of it in its original design using modern materials and were now trying to make money out of it. We sat around the swimming pool within the restored battlements and had a lunch proudly put together by the members of the family whilst enjoying the view of the distant hills. We only had sandwiches but they were tasty in spite of the bread. [They have no idea how to make bread in this country. It is rock hard on the outside and full of air on the inside. The French loaf is just as bad. What do they use for dough? There cannot be any regulatory body in Europe to control quality of the ingredients and especially the use by dates. We had bread in some hotels which must have been a week old and solid as a lump of pumice stone.
Onwards and downwards through the Tuscan valleys to Rome. We approached from a different direction through a much more industrial area and a more civilised residential and shopping zone to the Sheraton Hotel near Rome's Fiumicino airport which was very convenient for us but not so for P & B who were booked out on a Ryan air flight at the airport we arrived at.
Our last meal together was at El Caravaneri an enormous restaurant complex which sprawled over three levels and under which there were some recent archaeological diggings exposing the foundations of a Roman home including mosaic tiled floors. These were only discovered when the restaurant decided to do some extensions. There was an enormous courtyard dining area, a lower ground floor inside plus two upper floors. Our group was on the middle floor along with two or three other coach parties.
We were entertained by a very amusing trio of singers
The meal was adequate with the usual number of predictable courses. [ I do not think I enjoyed any of the meals in Italy except perhaps the lunch on that island off Venice. No imagination on the whole but then again the eateries we went to had to cater for hundreds of tourists each day. As we were to discover later the pasta is over rated and lacking in protein and as for the pizza... The crust is wafer thin and the toppings are minimal. A 30cm pizza in Italy is a single serve. In Sydney or New York it would serve a family with its 'pan' thickness and centimetre high topping.]
The servings were however marginally larger than norm. Lots of oil but plenty of chicken and roast potatoes. The anti pasta was varied and we actually had two pastas. Lots of wine and beer included but then this meal was an expensive extra. 55 Euros each to be precise so, as value for money and in spite of the entertainment, it was pricey.
Back to the hotel. We say our goodbyes to a few but in particular to B and P who have to be up real early to catch their flight to Germany. We will have a sleep in.