Club Italy Vacation 2023 Day 5

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

This morning we had to be up early to check out of our hotel in Rome and carry our luggage over to the Metro station. We rode the Metro with our luggage to the main terminal exit.

Waiting for the subway.

From the terminal we found the track that our high-speed train would arrive on and then take us to the Firenze S.M. Novella stop.

At the Florence Airport we got off the train with our luggage and then boarded the Metro to take us to the airport!

Our 3rd mode of transportation today!

When we arrived at the airport the guys left and took the rental car shuttle to pick up our van and car. When we first planned our trip we were hoping to rent one 10-12 passenger van. When we checked with Italy’s car rental agencies we were told you had to have a special bus driver’s license to drive any vehicle that carries 10 or more passengers. Therefore we had to rent two vehicles, a nine passenger van and a five passenger car.

After loading both vehicles with our luggage, we headed for our villa outside of San Gimignano, Torraccia Di Chiusi. It was our 4th mode of transportation!

The last two miles of our drive to the villa was gravel and because of all of the rain that they have had there were many potholes and uneven surfaces! Below are pictures from around Torraccia Di Chiusi.

Our room!

We all loved our rooms, the staff, and the grounds of the villa.

Our key to our room!

It was around 3:30 PM when we arrived at the villa. This evening we were going to eat dinner there and it was served at 8:00 PM. Since we hadn’t had anything to eat since morning, we talked to Maria, the manager, and she had the kitchen make up two meat and cheese trays with fresh bread for our group. Of course, we also had several bottles of their wine. It was the perfect “happy hour”!

The grounds were beautiful and the scenery was spectacular.

Right by our villa was the Via Francigena Toscana, an ancient pilgrimage route. It was a 1300-mile long route in the Middle Ages from Canterbury through France, Switzerland and Italy before reaching Rome. We met a couple that was hiking part of the route.

After dinner some of our group played Euchre, some read, and others found that sleep was calling their name. It was a long day of subway, train, and cars so it was an early night for most!

Club Italy Vacation 2023 Day 3

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Today we took the Metro back into the center of Rome and our first stop was the Mamertime (Mamertime is a term attibuted to the prison in the Medieval Period) Prison. On our way to the prison we stopped by the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti. This church was built in the 16th century and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was beautiful inside.

Inside the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti.

Then on to the prison.

Mamertine Prison

It was built in the 3rd century BC and in this prison, according to legend, Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter were imprisoned here by Emperor Nero. The prison was known as the Carcer which means prison and it was the only prison in ancient Rome. The Tullianum which was speculated to hold religious importance, votive offerings were found during excavations. It was used for death row prisoners and these prisoners were let down through the hole in the ceiling.

We walked over to the Circus Maximus. It was the largest ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium. It was constructed in the 6th century BCE. It was U shaped and had seats on 3 sides. It was rebuilt by Julius Caesar in the 1st century BCE. There could be 150,000 spectators and it was enlarged by subsequent emperors until Constantine in the 4th century AD and it had a seating capacity of almost 250,000 spectators.

We walked over to the Parco Savello, Giardino Degli Aranci and it was located on the Aventine Hill. This park was named after orange trees and was very peaceful. It has an excellent view of Rome. The park was designed in 1932. There were medieval walls surrounding the park. It was worth the hike up the hill!

Poppies were growing everywhere.

We crossed the Tiber River as we walked down from the park.

Tiber River

By now it was early afternoon and we were hungry so we found outdoor seating at a restaurant called Sabatini in the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere a neighborhood in Rome. Trastevere was known “as the foodie neighborhood of Rome”! Our meals were fantastic!

The 10 of us at Sabatini!

The drinks were excellent too!

This neighborhood had narrow alleys and in the Piazza di Santa Maria was the Basilica di Santa Maria which was one of the oldest churches in Rome.

As we explored the neighborhood of Trastevere we saw cobblestone alleys and interesting restaurant windows and shops. Below are a few.

I loved seeing these boys as we walked down one of the alleys!

Some boys playing chess along one of the narrow streets!

Our walk continued to Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo). It was quite an uphill trek with stairs and narrow streets. It was worth the climb! At the top of the hill there was an equestrian statue dedicated to Geribaldi who was a military figure and hero.

Statue of Geribaldi

The Janiculum Promenade served as a monument to the 84 partisans who fought and died protecting the Romans from the French invasion of 1849. These statues surround the area.

The views from Janiculum Hill were incredible.

The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola was a marble fountain and was built during the 17th century and was also called “The Big Fountain”.

The Big Fountain

After walking back down the hill we passed by the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument. It was built between 1885 and 1935 to honor Victor Emmanuel II who was the first king of a unified Italy.

Victor Emmanuel II National Monument

As we were walking to the location for dinner we passed by more Roman ruins. Unfortunately the information plaque explaining what we were looking at was blocked off and we couldn’t get the information.

We walked into a neighborhood area of Rome to find a local restaurant and we found an excellent one. It was family run and we had great food and service.

Our group of travelers at Trattoria Da Valentino

It was a beautiful evening to walk from our dinner restaurant to catch the subway and head back to our hotel after a busy day and over 21,000 steps!