Family, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 6

In September, I traveled to Italy for two weeks with some of my family, which included an 85-mile, 6 day self-guided walking tour through the Italian countryside. We also spent time in Rome, Venice, Florence, Pompeii and Naples. 

Catch up on my other posts about this trip here:

Italy – Walking Rieti to Rome – Summary
Doors of Italy
Italy – Exploring Rieti
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 1
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 2
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 3
Italy – Castello Orsini Hotel
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Days 4 and 5

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The sixth and final day of our self-guided walk started in the Monte Sacro district in Rome and took us to the Vatican. It covered about 10 miles and even though we were walking through the city, our path still took us on the scenic route, along a bike path, around the second largest park in Rome and down along the river.

I realized pretty quickly that it was a good thing I had taken the day before off, because after the first 2 miles or so I was back to hobbling along. But there was so much to see on this day and it was interesting to see the city transition from just pretty normal, modern city surroundings, to the more historical “old” (and touristy) parts.

This is the Mosque of Rome, and is the largest mosque outside the Islamic world, Russia and India, making it the Western world’s biggest mosque. After some opposition, Pope John Paul II gave his blessing to the building project. It’s minaret approximately 1 meter shorter than the dome of St. Peter’s.

Just about the time that we all admitted that we needed a longer break we found this weekend market where we tried some fun, different drinks and enjoyed looking around. There were also some meat and fish stands.

This is the Milvian Bridge (Ponte Milvio), which has quite a bit of historical significance, including the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD 312 led by Constantine. That victory led Constantine to total control over Rome and the Western Roman Empire, and the issuing of the Edict of Milan, which officially recognized Christianity in the Roman Empire.

In 2000, the bridge began attracting couples who were inspired by Federico Moccia’s book and movie “I Want You,” and attached padlocks to the lamp posts of the bridge as a token of their love and threw the key behind them into the Tiber River. In 2007, one of the lamp posts collapsed under the weight of the the padlocks, so in 2012 they were all removed and the practice was banned. But it had already spread as a common ritual elsewhere in the world and we still saw a few padlocks here and there.

After the Milvian Bridge, we turned and walked down along the river for the remainder of the way. The guidebook told us that we would pass under six bridges and the seventh bridge would be the Ponte Sant’Angelo with five arches each topped with a statue of an angel. I was so excited to finally see this bridge!

We walked up the stairs onto the bridge and quickly saw our end mark, St. Peter’s Basilica just down the street to the left.

This was our “finish line” photo! It was quite the adventure walking some 85 miles through the Italian countryside and truly a one-of-a-kind experience (even without the sprained ankle). If you are interested in really seeing a country at its heart, aside from the tourist attractions, I highly recommend considering doing a guided walk of some sort. It was beautiful and humbling in so many ways and I am so thankful that I got to share this experience with my dear family. Though I don’t know who else really would have put up with my crankiness 🙂

This was the end of our walk, but we still had another week of our vacation in which we explored more of Rome and visited Pompeii, Naples, Venice and Florence. So I still have a couple more blog posts coming at you soon!

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And just for fun here are some of my other past Travel Journal posts:

Nashville, Tennessee – Girls Weekend
London, England
Estes Park, Colorado
Thailand and the Philippines
Tumon Bay, Guam
New York City – Girls Weekend
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Antigua, Guatemala

Family, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: Italy – Self-Guided Walk Days 4 and 5

In September, I traveled to Italy for two weeks with some of my family, which included an 85-mile, 6 day self-guided walking tour through the Italian countryside. We also spent time in Rome, Venice, Florence, Pompeii and Naples. 

Catch up on my other posts about this trip here:

Italy – Walking Rieti to Rome – Summary
Doors of Italy
Italy – Exploring Rieti
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 1
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 2
Italy – Self-Guided Walk Day 3
Italy – Castello Orsini Hotel

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I am combining Days 4 and 5 into one post because we took just a few less photos on these days, so I worked on making the ones I wanted to share fit in one. They were still both great days, but Day 4 ended up being another difficult one that involved us getting lost again and then I sat out on Day 5.

Anyway, the fourth day of our walk started in Nerola and took us to Monterotondo. I believe it was supposed to be our longest day, covering about 15 miles, but according to Mom’s Apple watch we did about 13 miles. We did not end up completing our route because we got lost again and after adding in a few miles to correct ourselves we realized that the last 4 or so miles would put us at our destination after dark and after our designated dinner time. I was also physically done. I had been hobbling along for a few days pretty well considering the circumstances, but the swelling in my ankle was only getting worse and my poor “healthy” foot was pretty torn up from the blisters. At one point just before we decided that we were not going to make it the rest of the way on foot, I stumbled again because my legs pretty much just gave out. I swear I wish I was being dramatic, but the rest of my family said that they were pretty done for the day too.

The problem was we were still a couple of miles from any town and we couldn’t use our own cell phones to make a call (we had a Wifi-hot spot with us but it only would work to text or Face Time if the receiving end also had an iPhone). So two of us walked up to a winery/home and used their phone to call and ask the hotel if they could come pick us up, which ended up working out.

Castello Orsini Hotel

Even though this was probably my least favorite days of the walk overall, this is one of my favorite memories! We were walking by a peach orchard and saw the farmer harvesting. My cousin and I walked up to him holding out some money and asking if we could buy some. He did not speak English, but waved the money away and just handed us a couple. These were the biggest peaches I have ever seen and they were so good!! It was a really nice, refreshing break and just one of the many examples of the kindness that we experienced throughout the trip. I do not have any pictures, but we also received a handful of apples later in the day. We were walking about an asphalt road and a man drove by with a car FULL of boxes of apples. He stopped all on his own, waved us over and gave us a handful!

For perspective, it really was almost as big as my face!

So about getting lost… I think I mentioned this in my introductory post, but for the most part the guide book we had was very thorough and easy to follow. But it seemed as if every time we came upon a town throughout the day, that is where the directions either got vague or led us astray. Once we were in this little town we had to ask for directions two different times to eventually find the bar that the book mentions. Looking back at the book later, we still had no idea how the book’s directions would have gotten us there.

The only time we got rained on during the walk was while we were waiting alongside a very busy road for my Grampy and cousin to go use the phone at the winery. As many cars sped by I just kept laughing and wondering what those drivers must have thought of this mix-matched group sitting outside a cement factory/yard (?) at dusk in the rain.

Dinner was so welcome that night! We enjoyed the food here (and the wine!), but it was the second of two places that we did not really care for staying at during the walk. It sort of felt like college dorm rooms and there was someone banging on doors in the middle of the night that we were pretty sure was a drunk looking for his room. We were safe but it just was not relaxing.

DAY 5

The fifth day of our walk started in Monterotondo and took us to the Monte Sacro district in Rome. It covered about 12 miles and took us through more farmland and a nature reserve before transitioning to the outer suburbs of Rome.

I actually decided to sit this day out. I knew that I had hit my limit pain and energy-wise and I really wanted to be able to join my family for the sixth and final day. I hated the thought of missing out but looking back after the final day and how hard that still was for me, I know that I made the right decision. So my family took off with my camera in tow again (thanks Mom!) and I got a taxi to take me to our next hotel.

Just to be clear, the remaining pictures in this post, including the ones with my name mark on them were actually taken by my Mom. Again, she did a great job!

We saw and used these watering fountains multiple throughout the week.

Since I got to our next hotel so early, I could not get into my room yet, so after I rested a bit in the lobby I ventured out a bit. Now don’t get me wrong ,I had a wonderful time with my family, but it actually ended up being nice to have a few hours of solo time. For the most part I am out going and an extrovert, but as I have gotten a little older I have learned that I do actually need to have time to myself to recharge. I did not go far since it was technically my rest day but I did find some amazing bacon pizza (seriously I am still thinking about it) and a relaxed outdoor space where I tried the croquettes and a class of my favorite type of white wine (Gewurztraminer).

My family made pretty good timing without me to drag along 🙂 so we all had a bit of time to relax together for the afternoon.

Dinner was at the Ristorante Casa Claudia and was so good! I wish I remembered more about its history. The restaurant sits along the Aniene River near a bridge that originally indicated the entrance to the city. I want to say a restaurant of some sort has always stood here for hundreds of years but do not quote me! I do remember that the restaurant has been owned by the same family for quite a long time. Pizza was their specialty so my Mom and I each got their personal serving size… We switched pies a couple of times, but still were only able to eat the equivalent of one together, partially because we also were not going to miss out on dessert!

Honestly, because of all the walking, most us actually either lost weight or maintained weight on this trip which was nice. Regardless though, in my mind you do not visit a foodie country like Italy and not indulge!

OK, I will be back hopefully tomorrow with the sixth and final day of the walk… then we can move on to the rest of the trip!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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And just for fun here are some of my other past Travel Journal posts:

Nashville, Tennessee – Girls Weekend
London, England
Estes Park, Colorado
Thailand and the Philippines
Tumon Bay, Guam
New York City – Girls Weekend
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Antigua, Guatemala