"All You Non-Smokers Will Have the Last Laugh"

Sunday, August 15, 2010
Martedi, Maggio 4, 5.5 miles

Our bus ("or is it a van?", class discussion on the ride up to Civita/Bagnoregio). The sunflowers (the symbol for Tuscany) reminds me a little of home in Kansas. I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking (I probably wasn't actually) but I didn't bring a jacket that day (which honestly wasn't so bad) however, I didn't bother to bring my umbrella either on one of the most dreary/rainy days of the week. I really should have known, it was a field trip day afterall! But much to my surprise, and appreciation, the bus driver offered to let some of us borrow an umbrella. I was thinking he had maybe two, but no, he kept pulling out giant umbrellas and passing them out! (I think we ended up with 5/6 overall).

Here it is! Civita. An island city. What is left of it's crumbling edges anyway... Extremely fascinating!

A diagram illustrating Civita today and how it relates to Bagnoregio with layers of lava and tufa rock supporting the cities above.

A lone ranger. Civita is so isolated that the only way to reach it is across this footbridge. (This very steep footbridge mind you!) Surprisingly, there are only 14 residents of this town, yes 14, and that is only when KSU professors Don and Carol Watts are living there during the semesters teaching abroad and during some summers. Here, there are no grocery stores. The residents go to the nearby town of Bagnoregio to buy food and other daily necessities. There are a few restaurants, though, for the thousands of visitors to Civita.

Here past the top of the modern footbridge is the last remnant of the original street that connected Civita to Bagnoregio.

After hiking all the way up the windy, rainy, steep bridge, the class took shelter under the arched gateway to the city and waited for our fearless leader Tony 'the Doge' Chelz to arrive. As he turns the corner from the bridge he's chuckling to himself and shouts to us, "All you non-smokers will have the last laugh!" as he wheezes a bit recovering from the long, steep climb.

Don and Carol Watts (professors of the KSU group that studied in Orvieto) invited us in and showed us their very own Italian Villa D'Watts! Their villa includes the main house and this garden house. There are two levels of gardens (the upper part directly attached to the house shown here) stepping down to a lower part with arched caves under the house. Truly spectacular views (even through all the clouds)!

After our tour of the houses we had some lunch at this bruschetteria. Some the most delicious food I've ever had!

"According to Rick Steves"......Look, even Rick Steves approves!

My empty plate ready to be filled!

The owners fixing and preparing our bruschetta over hot coals in this cozy restaurant. Talk about made to order!

Round 1: some onions and peppers ( I tried, but I couldn't finish all of the onions and peppers, I had to take a few off...but I did try...)

Round 2: They even had me, a notorious picky eater to my friends and family, eating a seemingly simple slice of bread with some truffle spread on it! I mean truffle as in mushrooms and I hate mushrooms!

Round 3: sausage

After lunch, we took a walk around the surrounding town where I came upon this cat.

Even some cloudy skies can't keep these spring blossoms down.

Some of the tunnels under/through the city.

Here is our class at the lower level of Villa D'Watts.

Lunch time for these kittens. Owners of some of the local restaurants take care of the neighborhood cats.

At the end of our visit we pass these three old men looking over the valley.

As we were leaving the sun began to break through the clouds and open up the sky. Goodbye Civita, I will miss you!

On the way back down the bridge, Don and Carol walked back with the group to drive Tony back to where our bus waited a couple miles away. The two were a running commentary all day. Here's a few of them:

"Carol's mom is having trouble climbing stairs....'let's go to Civita!'..." Don
"Rick Steves' doesn't mean squat!" (apparently Don carries quite some annimosity towards Rick Steves...)
"Those weeds weren't cleared in with a capital 'C'!!!" Don referring to plants and weeds growing in abundance in Italy

Perhaps the funniest of them all:

"What's for dinner?" Don
"Risotto...the kind you don't like...the zucka kind!" Carol
"I'm gonna have to treat myself to some gelato if Carol's going to feed me that pre-fab zucka for dinner....and when she asks me why I'm not eating I'll say 'I'm on a diet dear'. " Don

"Anyone Tired Yet? Whew!....Nah, Not Me. Not This Kid!"

Friday, August 13, 2010
Villa D'Este and Hadrian's Villa:
Mercoledi, Aprile 28, 9.5 miles

Villa D'Este

Our first stop was Villa D'Este in Tivoli. Walking through the town we passed through this vibrant plaza. It was surrounded on three sides by streets. I found this bit of landscape architecture quite pleasant, weaving these benches through the edge of the plaza. The environment was fairly comfortable although, I did find the distinction between the plaza and the street a little difficult as they were treated with the same type of paving (not uncommon I've noticed in many of these Italian towns). Nonetheless, I welcome this environment and enjoy the differences in design as compared with many plazas in the United States.

Groupings of old men chatting the morning away.

Check out this paving, and the drainage channels!

View out to the valley and the town from the upper balcony of the villa

I LOVE spiral staircases!

Looking down at the lower courtyard and gardens below.

Lower plaza; the garden areas are down and to the right; the villa is on the left, the part under the wisteria has been transformed into a gift shop and cafe

varying levels of ramps and stairs that wind down the villa/gardens; in traditional Italian Renaissance style, this is all very symmetrical (which I happen to like in many ways)

Fontana del Bicchierone

Nice trees!

View of the water organ fountain. Twice a day it opens up and plays a tune, we got there just in time to hear it, along with all the neon dressed school children!

Looking down at Neptune's Fountain and the three rectangular ponds that sit on axis with it.

enjoying some of the spring blossoms and an ancient tree

Here I am in front of Neptune's fountain. (one level below the water organ)

Le Cento Fontane (the Hundred Fountains)

Villa D'Este

Our next stop, Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa). This villa, or should I say city, covers an immense amount of land (I knew it was going to be a good mileage day!). The scale model above shows a bit of how spread out it was which just adds to the impressiveness of the accomplishment in building it all. It was built as the private summer retreat for Emperor Hadrian between AD 118-134. The architecture of the villa was full scale replicas of the emperor's favorite sites in Greece and Egypt.

To reach the main part of the villa we hiked up a long incline. All along the way I kept expecting to find animals roaming around as I felt like I was in a zoo. About halfway up Tony asked, "Anyone tired yet? Whew!....Nah, not me. Not this kid!"
(as he was huffing and puffing up the hill)

Teatro Maritimo

A soldier standing guard over the Canopus (a sanctuary of the God Serapis near Alexandria).

And here we came across some statuesque Goddesses....I particularly like the one in the middle right raising her hand gracefully towards the Heavens. There's just something so lovely, so elegant about her.

The Canopus

Yeah, I see you ladies....go ahead, don't be ashamed, fondle his 'buns of steel' (or should I say 'stone') You're on vacation!

a friend roaming the grounds

here's another one who loved all the attention he got, not to mention posing for a few shots

Nice tree!

some ducks in the pond

turtle turtle......turtle turtle

impressive presence of trees

I found this juxtaposition of old olive grove in the villa next to the new car interesting, seen all over Italy, old and new thrust into life together.