Sep 16 2016

Italy: Travel home days and trip summary

Today was the day that we say goodbye to our Italian vacation and headed back to the US. We awoke to unbelievable rains, and, hoping that they would pass before our drive back to FCO airport, we stopped in again at Bar Principe 2 for some breakfast. In full disclosure, it’s basically because I couldn’t resist the Nutella and white chocolate tart one more time before leaving Italy. Unfortunately, though, the rain didn’t let up at all and it made the drive back to the airport a bit more stressful than anticipated. That being said, we arrived safely, dropped off the car, and made the flights back to the US.

It should be mentioned here that our experience with Hertz car rental was absolutely awful! They charged me multiple times, and I had to contest the duplicates with my credit card company. They also tried to sneak in random service fees and charges even though the rental was prepaid before we even left the United States.

Overall, this was not my favourite trip, and I found it to be one of the most frustrating vacations that I’ve had. However, there were some really great points, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences that we had for anything. Here’s a quick recap of some of those points, with links to the posts about the respective days:

I know that it may seem crazy that my favourite wine ended up being the 2012 Casale del Giglio Madreselva even after experiencing several 1997 Brunellos during our stay at Casa Bolsinina. I need to clarify that it was my favourite because it was just completely unexpected! I didn’t think that Lazio would produce such a stellar wine, especially considering the very reasonable price!


Sep 15 2016

Italy Day 14: The Necropolis of Banditaccia and more relaxing in Bracciano

After not getting all that much sleep (due to the air conditioner problem in our hotel), we got up and had a pretty casual morning. At this particular bed and breakfast (Vicolo dei Pescatori), the morning meal isn’t served at the hotel. Instead, the owner provided us with vouchers that could be used at three different cafés in the area. We chose Bar Principe 2, and it ended up being quite nice. We had the usual coffee and tea, and I got this amazing tart that had Nutella and white chocolate cream. Honestly, I could eat that thing as the day is long. My waistline wouldn’t be too happy about it, but my taste buds would be! 🙂

After breakfast, we drove about 35 minutes southwest to the town of Cerveteri in order to see a very cool UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Necropolis of Banditaccia. It is essentially a “City of the Dead” for the Etruscans, and is comprised of hundreds of tombs, one seemingly more elaborate than one before it!

Necropolis of Banditaccia tombs
Click to enlarge

It was raining off and on, so getting photos was more difficult than usual. However, the tombs were fascinating. In my opinion, though the full site is quite large, it is much of the same, so allowing for 1-2 hours there is sufficient. The land itself was certainly beautiful (as is much of northern Lazio).

Landscapes around the Necropolis of Banditaccia
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We drove back to Anguillara Sabazia and spent the remainder of the day just walking around town and looking at the calming Lake Bracciano. I spent some time setting up my tripod and other equipment so that I could take multiple exposures in hopes of doing some HDR tone mapping. It’s a photographic technique with which I haven’t had much experience, but in a nutshell, it requires taking many shots (to varying degrees of under and overexposure), and combining them in order to increase the dynamic range of a photograph. I haven’t yet had a chance to play around with the photos that I took, but here is the “correct” exposure of the town:

Anguillara Sabazia and Lake Bracciano
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It’s beautiful in and of itself!

We again made the drive to the neighbouring town of Bracciano because our dinner last night at Pane e Olio was so incredibly delicious that we wanted to experience it one more time before ending our trip to Italy. We tried ordering a different starter of fried lake fish, and that was a mistake. So, we instead went with the fried pizzas again. I, not wanting to miss my last chance of having real Carbonara (see yesterday’s post) ordered it again. Deb, however, changed it up and went with a pasta that had pork cheek and pistachios. My favourite thing about her dish was the pasta that was used, which was like Pici—a thicker, more doughy pasta with some weight to it.

Pane e Olio in Bracciano - Pici pasta with pistachio and pork cheek
Click to enlarge

We went back to Gran Caffe Principe di Napoli, and this time ordered a pistachio tart to take away with us to the hotel. We enjoyed it immensely, and had some wine on our balcony overlooking the lake. Not too shabby for our last night in Italy.


Sep 14 2016

Italy Day 13: The journey to Bracciano, and a wonderful dinner at Pane e Olio

Today is one of the few days on our trip that was, unfortunately, comprised of mostly travel. After we checked out of our hotel (Il Saracino), we made our way back down to the Port of Capraia. A staff member of the hotel took our bags down to Port, but we decided to make the nice walk one last time. Along the way, we stopped to take in the glorious view of the Port, and the pristine waters of the Ligurian Sea.

Torremar Ferry at the Port of Capraia returning to Livorno
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We got to the Port well ahead of time. Why? In order to start the day off right with one last gelato from La Gelateria di Capraia. 😉 I went with the coconut again, because why change a good thing? We boarded the ferry and in under three hours, we were back in the port city of Livorno where we had parked the car for our mini-trip to Capraia Isola. In the car, it was about a 3h30m drive down the coast toward Rome. We left Tuscany, and entered back into Lazio (the region that encompasses Rome). About 30km northwest of Rome is the lake town of Bracciano, which I’ve heard can be a common vacation spot for Romans in the summer. Though Bracciano is the bigger city, we chose to stay in the neighbouring town of Anguillara Sabazia in a very small bed and breakfast called Vicolo dei Pescatori.

Al Vicolo dei Pescatori in Anguillara Sabazia - view of Lake Bracciano
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As you can see, we were about as close to Lake Bracciano as possible. Directly across from our bed and breakfast was the owner’s restaurant, La Nepitella. We decided not to eat there, but he was nice enough to let us purchase some wine for us to enjoy later on our beautiful balcony (how could you not enjoy that view?) The only problem that we had with the room was that the air conditioning was not working. The owner explained how it worked, but to us, it wasn’t working at all. It was cooler outside, and you could hear it working in the main living space of the house, but not in our individual room. No AC made it very difficult to sleep. 🙁

We got in fairly late in the evening, so after unpacking, we got back in the car and made the short drive to Bracciano. We chose to eat at Pane e Olio which was in the plaza right next to the Castle of Bracciano. Boy, am I glad that we chose this restaurant! Everything from the service to the cool breeze of outside seating, and of course, the food, was impeccable (not to mention, affordable). The food, though, was the absolute star!

We started with the Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, which came on a bed of shredded lettuce. The combination of the salty Prosciutto and the cool, refreshing mozzarella (the freshest I’ve ever had) was simply divine. We also ordered the Pizza fritta, which were essentially these beautifully fried hunks of dough with Marinara, basil, and some grated cheese.

Pane e Olio in Bracciano - fried pizza
Click to enlarge

For our mains, I had Carbonara, but this was REAL Carbonara—the sauce was primarily egg and NO cream. Deb had the gnocchi, which was lovely, but she claims was still not quite as good as at That’s Amore in Rome.

Pane e Olio in Bracciano - Carbonara
Click to enlarge

After that completely blissful meal, we stopped at Gran Caffe Principe di Napoli, which was a wonderful bakery. I picked up a Tartufo to take away, but this one was interesting in that it was vanilla instead of the typical chocolate. We went back to the hotel, sipped our wine on the patio, and called it a night. Even with all the driving and travelling today, it ended on some really nice notes.


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