The next morning, we got on a tour bus and headed north to the Umbria area of Italy. The first stop was a winery outside of Orvieto called Cantina Custodi. Cantina Custodi is a small family winery on 70 hectares that is dedicated to making wine and olive oil. We were given a tour of the grounds and winery, while sipping on a few different type of wine! After a few hours at the winery, we made our way into the town of Orvieto. Orvieto, founded in 1290, sits on a volcanic plug. It is home to a huge Roman Catholic cathedral finished in 1591. There are lots of small shops and restaurants in the city center by the cathedral. It was difficult to find a restaurant open in the middle of the week in February, but we eventually ran into Osteria da Mamma Angela, a small local Italian restaurant. Once we filled up on more pasta, we headed back down to check out the city of Civita.
Civita is an interesting little town. It was founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago. It also sits atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff. It is constantly in danger as parts of the plateau have fallen off due to erosion. Its population can vary between 12 people in the winter to 100 in the summer. There is a really long footbridge that you have to take to enter Civita, it is the only way in or out of town. Once you are in, it feels like you have gone back in time hundreds of years. The old architecture has withstood the test of time here. We only had a few minutes of daylight to check out the streets of this mysterious town before we had to hop back on the bus to Rome.
Once we got into Rome, we took one of the local Trenitalia train lines to get to our hotel. The one-way fare was only 8 euro for the hour and 20-minute ride with a transfer. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Central Park, which is located conveniently near a local bus and train stop. I ended up getting a room with an amazing view of St. Peter’s Basilica. I didn’t have time to admire the view, as we had to rush over to the Colosseum for our tour reservations! We took an Uber right to the Colosseum for about 35 euros.
The entrance and tour package allows you to skip the line, which was a huge help. The third ring tour was 12 euros, plus a 2-euro reservation fee. You still must buy a ticket to get in the Colosseum, which was 9 euros. The total package was 23 euros. Once you pass security, you must stop by a ticket booth to collect a physical ticket and get a sticker for the tour. The third ring/underground tour was amazing. They let you out onto the arena floor where the gladiators fought. The tour also lets you down into the underground tunnels, as well as the top tier of the Colosseum. Hang on to your ticket into the Colosseum, as that is good the Roman Forum and Palatine area close by! You could attempt to walk it all in one day, or break it out over 2 days; but the ticket only allows one entrance into each landmark.
We decided on doing the Roman Forum the same day as the Colosseum. It is A LOT of walking around the old ruins of the Forum and Palatine hills, but it’s a sight to see one of the oldest city centers in the world. After a few hours of walking around the ruins, we walked up to another famous landmark, Trevi fountain. Trevi fountain is the largest Braque fountain in Rome. It was built in 1762 to supply Rome with water via the Acqua Vergine. Lots of tourists throw coins into the fountain. The proper way according to the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain is for the coin to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. It is said in the movie that if you make a wish to return to Rome once you throw the coin, you will.
Once I made my wishes at the fountain, we headed back to the hotel via subway to freshen up and meet up with a big travel group at Tonnarello. Tonnarello is an excellent Italian restaurant near the Tiber river. I had the cheese and pepper pasta, a traditional Roman dish. The pasta was good for the 8.50 euros it cost!