We left Florence with a lot of ground to make up today since skipping the Chianti wineries. I did want to stop by at least one winery though…so we chose one in Montepulciano since that was a local region close to the interstate we would be travelling on. The drive to the top of the hill was amazing. It even made the walk straight up the side bearable. Ha
She even gave me a proper tasting with a great cheese to compliment. I bought one of the bottles I tasted and as my “souvenir” of the trip- I splurged and bought a 14 year old bottle of Nobile de Montepulciano that had a half inch of dust on it. I’m excited.
After leaving, we stopped for espresso at a cafe in a tiny town. We picked up an admirer.
A guy in the coffee shop asked where I was from and if I was enjoying Italy. I said, “Of course, but I really need to learn more Italian” having just fought to tell the lady in the winery that I wanted to BUY the old bottle of wine, not just taste it… He said, “It’s ok, we Italians are pretty good with our English” True. And a very good thing!
We were back on the road. Norah took a nap for the two hour drive as we backtracked to Rome on our way to Tivoli to see Hadrian’s Villa. The Emporer Hadrian had this giant place built around 120AD because he didn’t really like his palace in Rome. When it was finished, he moved out here, a good 20 miles from Rome and ruled from here for the rest of his life. After him, other emporers came here, too: Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus…it was in use until the fall of Rome in the 400s, it was used by armies in the 500s during the Byzantine wars… Even though it was already in ruins, some jerk Cardinal swiped a lot of the statues and marble for his own estate in the 1500s.
Domed ceiling of the grand baths. They even had the hole in the center of the dome for steam to escape, much like the Pantheon that was also constructed by Hadrian.
You can even see in the bottom of the photo some exposed entry into the underground tunnels. The slaves and workers were to move about beneath the ground as not to obstruct the serenity and view of the emporer. They are still excavating these underground tunnels.
After the Villa we are at the restaurant nearby. Probably the best and definitely the fanciest meal I’ve had so far in Italy
We continued on to our hotel for the night in Santa Maria Capua Vetere- a small little town that just happens to have a little trick up its sleeve- it’s where the old Roman amphitheater is that Sparticus fought in! And this was our view from the front porch.
There was a front garden with orange trees and the guy had picked some oranges for us already on the table.
More on the Sparticus Amphitheater tomorrow. We also will be on our way to Pompeii and ending on the Amalfi Coast.