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

Family, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: Italy – Castello Orsini Hotel

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

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Our walk on the third day took us to Nerola where we stayed at the Castello Orsini Hotel, which is a 12th century castle!

This was SO COOL and without a doubt my favorite place we stayed throughout the whole trip. We took so many photos and enjoyed it so much that I decided it needed to have its own post. Unfortunately the lighting was not all that great inside, so even the few I am sharing in this post really do not do it justice. However, the castle does have an Instagram account and they feature some beautiful photos so you should definitely check that out!

In the 12th century, the fiefdom (an estate or territory granted to someone in return for allegiance or service), was granted to the Orsini family, who built the present castle. Since then it changed hands a number of times until the last change in 1939. It was eventually restored and now houses the hotel.

One of the most unique parts was that every private room was so different. Most of them had built-ins added to create more living space since the ceilings were so high. The public spaces were essentially museums and since we got in later than expected the evening before, we took some extra time in the morning to explore a bit. There were lots of balconies and terraces with beautiful views, and my Mom and I eventually found a way to go out on part of the roof. There had been a wedding there a day or two before so we also saw the remnants of that event.

If you are planning a trip to Italy and looking at spending some time outside of the major cities, then I would highly recommend a visit here or something similar.

Most of the rooms had these built-in stairs that led to platforms where most of the beds were in the rooms.

This was a homemade creamy gnocchi with mushroom truffles. Basically it was like really fancy mac and cheese and it was delicious!

From the rooftop.

The views were amazing!

The inner courtyard.

Everywhere they had empty wine bottles, corks and wine glasses incorporated as decoration.

Like I said, the lighting was difficult in some areas, including this area near the kitchen that had this pit of corks. The picture above with the bottles was in the same room so you can kind of see the lighting. I think I took the cork picture in the morning though when the bright colored lights weren’t one or as bright, plus I think this one was with my phone. But the point is, that this was a really fun feature! And my Mom may or may not have snatched a cork from there for me. I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been a bit deal if I had asked, but this makes a better story 🙂

Thanks for stopping by again. I still have about eight or so more posts planned for this trip so stay tuned!

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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