Europe 14 - Day 26


The Globus Tour - "The Best of Italy"

Sometimes the best laid plans....

When we first looked at travelling to Italy and to Cassino for the 70th commemorations, we were attracted by the Tempo Tour offering the trip to Cassino followed by a follow-on tour up the Adriatic Coast of Italy, through Venice and on to Trieste, where the New Zealand Division ended the war on 2 May 1945. These two tours would cover most of the parts of Italy that interested us, so we sent off the applciation forms. A short while later we received the news that the second tour did not have enough people so was being cancelled. In its place we looked at other tour offerings, eventually settling for a Globus Tour - the Best of Italy in 11 days. We carefully arranged the Globus departure date from Rome to be the day after our return from the Cassino Tour, but...

...the Cassino dates changed. The decision had been taken by the diplomats to move the New Zealand AND the Commonwealth services back by a day to allow the Polish service to be held on the Sunday. That meant the Cassino Tour arrived back in Rome a day later. That meant we missed the first day of the Globus Tour around Rome. That meant we still have not seen most of Rome. (Oh well, it provides an excuse to go back again!)

So we joined up with the Globus Tour. Fortunately the Globus Tour started from a hotel in Rome that was just around the corner from where the Tempo Tour ended, so we went to the final dinner, said goodbye to all the Kiwis and walked around to our new tour group. When I had looked at the tour details I formed the impression that it would be filled mostly with Australians, but it ended up with 46 Americans and ourselves. That made for an interesting time.

The tour went from Rome north to the hilltop village of Orvieto then on to Montecatini Terme. A day in Florence was followed by two nights in Venice then south to Assisi, across to Naples and Pompeii then two nights on the Isle of Capri. The final day was a tour of the Amalfi Coast and back to Rome.

The hilltop town of Orvieto

Like many towns in Italy, Orvieto is in two parts - Orvieto Scalo on the floor of the valley and the fortified, walled Orvieto Terni on the top of the nearby hill. Many of these twin towns now have a funicolare (cable car) linking them which makes it a lot easier for the locals and tourists alike. Our coach turned off the autostrada (A1) and parked at the Orvieto railway station. from here the funicolare takes you up the steep hill to the north-east corner of the town. We then crowded onto small buses for the rapid drive through the winding streets to the piazza outside the main cathedral. Our tour guide (Aldo) then led us on a short walk through the old town, pointing out cafes and all the shops selling brightly coloured ceramics. He then headed to a cafe for coffee and a chance to read the papers. We looked at ceramics, the architecture and then found an outside table at a cafe, only to then recognise Aldo hiding behind his paper.

Looking up to Orvieto Terni from the autostrada.
The clock tower at the piazza.
Side view of the cathedral.
The funicolare tracks climb steeply.
Wandering through the narrow streets.
The unusual octagonal tower.
Ceramics and tourists everywhere.
One of many tourist traps.
This cafe looks fine. But isn't that Aldo the tour guide hiding behind the paper?
The cafe in the sun.
A glimpse of the cathedral.
The front of the cathedral is as ornate as any.
The spires are also very ornate, designed to attract people from the surrounding area.
Even the sides of the cathedral are ornate, in black and white stripes.
Decorations near the main doors.
Detailed carvings.


Fattoria il Poggio

We continued north from Orvieto, arriving at Montecatini late in the afternoon. There had been a change of hotel; we reputedly had been upgraded. But judging by the street crowded with tour coaches, so had several other tour groups. Nevertheless, the hotel was comfortable, even if a bit old and run down. The plan for the evening was to take the coach about 20km west of the town to a farm that provides food and entertainment. So we headed off to the farm in the late afternoon sun. They gave us quick tour of the farm with the ubquitious grapes and olives before settling into a long sampling of their wine and food.

Grape growing. The soil was more interesting, being a heavy clay loam over coarse gravels.
Grapes and olives.
There is a lot of smoke coming from the kitchen.
Our farm guide explaining how they deal with the olives.
Detail from their table cloths.
This bundle of fur is a dog (very large).
The two of us for scale.
The dog was too tired (= too full of illicit food) to be bothered with the dancing.
And this is how he managed to obtain a few morsels.


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Last updated: 26/10/2014