One Day Out of Ten in Rome

Exploring a city, or part of it is always a challenge.

I find that when I am arriving in a new place it always surrounded by curiosity , discomfort and excitement.

Waiting outside the apartment

Rome was no different. We had decided that we would get a taxi to our lodgings as it didn’t seem to be much different in the cost to trains and buses.

Our taxi driver was another best find as he loved to talk about His Rome, pointing out the particular structures of significance as he drove us to our spot. He did say that we were staying in a great area with easy access to the best of Rome.

Dario, the owner coming to greet

We left him with his directions of where to walk to to get to our lodgings and 5 minutes later as we stood outside the door of number 14 Vicolo delle Grotte, Sam realised that he had left his hat in the taxi! Oh well, an excuse to buy a new one!!! Then around the corner runs the taxi driver with Sam’s hat. We couldn’t believe the generosity of that man to do this for us. He didn’t stop. Just took off again before we could do anything. No contact. We hadn’t even got a receipt for the ride so we couldn’t do anything to thank him. The owner  of the apartment we are staying in said that he had never herd anything like this before in his WHOLE life!!

Now for ‘one’ day.

Apricots were delicious, and the strawberries to die for!

We had booked a restaurant on the recommendation of Bryan Fitzgerald to have lunch. It was 5kms away and an hour’s interesting walk. Except that when we checked it again this morning it seemed as though I had got the spelling wrong (surprised!) He had told us ‘Scilla e Carridi’ and I had booked ‘Scilla e Cariddi’ After a long half hour research it appears that the restaurant has changed its name when it changed location. So after all I wasn’t wrong!!!! And it now does lunches which under its other name it didn’t .

Buying bread at Roscioli
Bread bought from Roscioli bakery. Ready for toasting to eat with fresh tomatoes from the market

We were out early this morning as we wanted to get our breakfast supplies for tomorrow. A visit to the market brought an interesting discussion with a fruitier. I was picking up kiwi fruit and asked where it came from. New Zealand. I put it down saying that it was too many food kilometers. He did have some Italian ones which we bought. From my comment he suggested that there was a rivalry between Australia and New Zealand as there is between the European countries. He said that everyone; England, France, Germany all hate Italy because of the mafia!

On to the bread shop. We had seen this place yesterday but it was closed. Today we were able to buy some delicious bread from ‘Roscioli’  a bakery since 1872.

Off on our walk to the restaurant. It was a little like ‘Rosie’s Walk’

Our apartment block

Down the alleys, across the busy road, past the Pantheon, past the Trevi Fountain with its million viewers. (you can understand why, it is so spectacular). Across another busy road. Up and along another street, past the U.S Embassy with all its security, past a mixed architecture that doesn’t work visually, along beautiful tree lined streets with the oldest trams running, past the gallery of decorative arts and on to find the restaurant.

Trevi Fountain
Interesting add on that doesn’t work for me

Another downstairs experience.

We have arrived. An interesting 2 hour walk to get here Scilla Cariddi

There was no one else there when we arrived but it quickly filled with workmates enjoying 10 euro eat what you can.

Interior of Scilla e Cariddi. Note the water on the end. Flavoured with cucumber Quite common here

We were not offered a menu, nor a wine list. Food and wine were brought to us. We decided to go with the flow. Let it happen. Sometimes language can be a deterrent. This time it was not! We ate octopus in a lovely tomato sauce, followed by pasta with beans and mussels in a fish stock,  then prawns with orange and pistachio followed by mixed pastries. All so delicious and if we had been given a menu we would probably not have chosen the same!

The waitress brought us a prosecco to finish the meal and some for herself to toast with.

A gorgeous looking park that we walked around the perimeter of to get into but it was all locked up!
Seeing this tram made me wish I had taken pics. of trams in all the cities that we have traveled in this time

On our walk back to our place we called into the gallery that we had seen on the way. Another treat. This gallery originally was the house of the Swedish Ambassador.

Now it is the Decorative arts Museum. Quite tiny compared to others and I would call it a House Museum. We were the only visitors

Wallpaper in one of the rooms in the house museum of Decorative Arts
Wallpaper in one of the rooms in the house museum of Decorative Arts

No entry fee and the most wonderful tapestries, wall papered rooms as well as having beautiful costumes and collection of millinery pieces.

Olga Modigliani ‘Vase with fish and shell fish.
Olga Modigliani pottery in Decorative Art Museum

We made a special connection in one room which housed some huge wall paintings of  Galileo Chini who had been commissioned to provide these to  support  Ivan Mestrovic  (whose sculptures we loved in Croatia last year.)in the Venice Biennale’s Hall of Honour in 1914.

Galileo Chini “Spring” (detail) in the Decorative Arts Museum

On to the apartment and rest.

A delightful day exploring another side of Rome.

Coming ‘home’

From Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania

Park in Riga

It isn’t often that we chose to take a tour but this time it seemed like the right way to go and it was.

We had investigated  traveling by bus (which we did from Tallinn to Riga) or train, which seemed like there would have to be too many changes.

Swinging the pack ready to go to Vilnuis

This way we had read that we could get to see some towns and sights on the way and be in a small group in a small bus.

There were 6 others and the driver.

Typical pine forest. These go for miles

We had the front seats. Our journey took 12 hours and we had 5 stops.

The first stop left me feeling quite uncomfortable and in a very pensive mode.

The Holocaust memorial in Salaspils Latvia.

You walk under this structure into the memorial space
Inside the memorial at Salaspils memorial. At the other end of this narrow walkway are stories of the inmates. All in very dark surrounds
Inside the memorial. In a darkened space you could bring up images of people and interviews. These were the children who were killed there
Trying to get the broad view


Statues representing motherhood, the infamous, protest, red front and solidarity

This memorial was built by the Russians in 1967 stating that it was commemorating victims of Nazism. It covers 25 hectares

From 1941 – 1944   20,200 people found them selves here. Because of the harsh conditions, the treatment and punishment  2,000 – 3,000. A lot of these were children.

At first the camp was built using Jewish labour from Germany. Because of the conditions, most of those people died. Then it was used as transit and labour camp, mostly for non jewish prisoners.

The entry to the area  is a large oblong structure which you walk under to view the huge statues in the field. The writing on it translates as “Beyond this gate the earth is crying”

Once you have climbed inside this ‘bridge’ turn right and you see  the dark side which shows videos and stories of those that were interred there. Turn left and at the other end it is light with a viewing tower showing the ‘way forward’ the light.

Walking towards the Holocaust memorial in Salaspils Latvia

Outside a long granite slab carries with it the metronome sound of a heart beat. This can be heard all over the grounds. Almost bringing the place ‘alive’ (ironically)

A large marble ‘tombstone’ which had the constant sound of a heartbeat which you could hear all over the memorial site

Then you look out to the statues which are enormous and very soviet style.

Surrounding this site is a forest. So it is rather like a scar on the landscape.

On then we went to ‘the magestic Rundale Palace’

Rundale palace
Looking towards Rundale palace
From the steps of Rundale palace

An interesting history turned the original old medieval castle into the palace in the first half of the 18th century.

During the French invasion of Russia (1812) it was used as a hospital for Napoleon’s army .

Again it was used as a hospital for the German army during WWI.

Rundale Palace Gardens plan 1735
Detail of windows. Some have been painted as a replica.

In the 20s and 30s it was a school.In. fact parts of it was still a school in 1978

Row of trees at Rundale Palace

Part of it was used for grain storage after WWII.

It is said that over 8 million euros have been spent on the restoration and is now used as  accommodation for dignitaries as well as a tourist destination!

Certainly beautiful grounds and feel.

Gardens of Rundale palace

We were interested to note that all the steps are wooden along with the balustrades etc. But that is to be expected in this very wooded country of Latvia.

The next stop was the ‘Hill of Crosses pilgrimage site’

Marching towards the hill of the crosses
A bemused Sam at the Hill of the Crosses
A bored christ at the Hill of the crosses

We are now in Lithuania.

The scenery has been green fields all the way. The odd band of fir and birch trees but then just wide open fields of newly planted crops.

This hill started having crosses put on it in the 1800s.

Detail Hill of Crosses. The use of symbols of the cross is religious as we know but the pagan symbols are there as well. Star for the sun
crosses piled high

There is a belief that by putting a cross here will bring and strengthen faith.

Pope John Paul visited here in 1993 giving it even more credibility

It was interesting to read that during the soviet time it was banned but people found that they had one place to place something anonymously.

There is a monastery is near by and used by pilgrims for solace.

I’m a bit skeptical about it all but after reading that during the soviet times the hill was bulldozed, flooded and guarded by the KGB and soldiers. Yet the crosses continued which was suggested the strength of the Lithuanians  to hold true to themselves.

There are lots of pagan symbols as well hanging there. The sun the moon. Lithuania was a pagan country. It is credited as the last European  country  to declare christianity!

Hill of Crosses. In the middle of nowhere. Buses come each day bringing pilgrims and tourists to place a cross or other objects to ensure wellness, happiness, and whatever you want

We then called into the small towns of Trakai – now very much a place for water sports. It is known for the number of different ethnic backgrounds of its inhabitants including one group the Karaites who are considered Jewish but they wouldn’t agree. In fact they were given ‘non jewish’ status from the German authorities during the holocaust. They have really interesting houses as well.

Houses in a street were known by colour not number
Typical house structure in Trakai. These are a built by a particular non Jewish sect that has the same beliefs and follow the Torah but say they are not Jews. One room for parents one for family one for children and a false one upstairs
14th century castle. Always fun to visit!

We also walked around the castle.

And Kaunas

Wall art in Kaunas. First capital of Lithuania
Sam is right for life now. Having drunk the waters. Love the sculpture.

the second largest city in Lithuania. It is a vibrant town with its own castle and seemingly great fun activities happening all the time.

The buildings are gothic in style and it was a great little stroll we had around the place. one to come back to I think!!

Statue in Kaunas village square

Pope Francis is going there in October!

Maybe it looks like the leaning tower of Pisa. It is the Cathedral of Vilnius

So there we are. We arrived on time at 9 pm. Still light to walk to our accommodation in a soviet build apartment block. Dark concrete steps up to the 2nd floor but the interior is bright and light. These buildings all back on to big courtyards and play areas which is perfect for families.

After 3 days here in Vilnius we head to Warsaw by overnight bus, leaving at 9pm  arriving at sunrise 4.14. am.









Art Nouveau in Riga Latvia

Riga is truly a beautiful city. There is a green belt between different built up areas. Some of these have waterways.


I don’t think we have been in a cleaner city this trip. Nor have we been in one that seems as calm.

Not sure what it is that gives this impression but it certainly felt like it. In the parks people were gently wandering, pushing prams, sunbathing, driving small toy cars and seemingly just enjoying the spaces.

National Romanticism

But the most interesting area that I want to share is the architecture. I was gobsmacked at the beauty of the Art Nouveau buildings that seem to fill up a lot of the city. In fact there are over 800 of them. Every corner we turned there was another.

Perpendicular Art Nouveau

Eclectically Decorative Art Nouveau

Eclectically Decorative Art Nouveau

Women the most common feature
Female sphinx

These buildings came about because of the boom times of the early 20th century. They were build under strict guidelines of not higher than 6 storeys and to be practical. This was the time for the invention of heating systems through the buildings along with flushing toilets.

Wooden building restored
Art Museum detail
National Romantism.

Prior to this buildings were wooden. There are still plenty of these and they have their own special quality.

National Romanticism

As we wandered I wondered why these buildings were in as good a condition as they are considering the times – the German period and then the Russians from 1945 on until 1991.

Eclectically Decorative art on building
Eclectically Decorative Art Nouveau

It seems that they had other priorities and these buildings while being made part of the state became housing for multiple families within each apartment.

Alberta St.
Eclectically Decorative Art Nouvau
View from the steeple of the Cathedral

They did become derelict and in very poor condition but they stayed. After this period, previous owners could reacquire them and  the government along with the assistance of the European Union as well as UNESCO has slowly been returning them to their former glory.

Along the street

We were staying in an area quite near to the main streets where they are but as we wandered further afield we saw more and more.

We had a really interesting time in the Art Nouveau museum where the rooms on the second floor have been set up in the period style with a collection of items that might have been there.

Art Nouveau Museum

I haven’t done this place justice with my photography skills, and I do still have a sore neck from looking up.

If you are ever this way or are planning your next journey, you should include Riga, Latvia. It is a special place. Then again all of the Baltic states are. Each so different, yet the same.

Telliskivi – Tallinn

Today we walked around the area of Tallinn known as Kalamaja. (translates as ‘fish house’ in English). It is an area that once house fishermen and pilots as well as cheap housing for factory workers built by the soviets.


In 1991 the factories were abandoned and left to ruin. But just as areas elsewhere artists and alternative living people moved in to the abandoned housing, it starts to become gentrified and the area becomes trendy!

We saw this in Germany in Berlin. We have seen it in Melbourne, in New York (Williamsburg)

We wondered about the height of where the snow drifts would get to

The houses here are wooden and the new modern versions are the same. I really wouldn’t call them houses they are apartment blocks of no more than 4 stories.

When we got to the ex railway locomotive plant it was a true cacophony of factory buildings along side converted containers and railway carriages.

Railway carriages used to house cafes
Converted container as a coffee shop. Has been clad with wood.
In the grounds

Signposting was interesting as well. Trees and outdoor seating of lots of ways to use packing crates was fascinating.

One use of packing crates
Note the wheels
crates used for seating
Great use of the crates
Two more uses of the crates
The entrance
Artist at work

A building similar to Castlemaine’s old hospital had been converted into designer shops on the ground floor with offices above.

A row of Russian clothes for sale in one shed

It has a flea market there which looked like it has been there forever. It reminded us of the Russian flea market in Beijing which we visited in 1996. This area also had its own  cafe where the the furniture was out of the 50s and middle aged men in their fluorescent vests drank coffee and played chess

Looking down onto the vegetable and fruit market
fruit section of the upmarket market

In another area and quite the opposite to factory area there was  an  upmarket undercover market selling everything from fish to honey as well as fruit and veggies.

Above that was an ‘antique’ market similar in style to Daylesford’s


We enjoyed a delicious lunch at F Hoone which was the first restaurant to be established there in 2010. Interesting that there is no extra signage inviting you in but it was chockers!

Window F Hoone
Kids area F Hoone
I loved the way that these seats could be arranged
Sam chatting up the waitress
The bar at F Hoone
Outside F Hoone where we enjoyed a delicious lunch

There are 11 buildings that have been ‘renovated’ and they continue to work on this.

We saw a great exhibition of photographs telling of some of the people who have lived in the area.

External gallery with the photo exhibition of Annika Metsla ‘Kalamaja in the Air’
‘Juss the little Inventor”
Mait and Ivo. When bullets were shot in Kalamaja Air
The Last Basement Shop in Kalamaja
The gallery

In the Telliskivi  information it states that they began the project in 2007, now there are 250 companies involved in some way through their presence  including architects and design firms.  They hold 600 cultural events a year. We are missing out on the food truck festival as well as the film festival which are happening in June. Read all about it here

In some ways it reminds me of the Mill in Castlemaine.  This one here is on such a bigger scale.  I was in a shop this afternoon talking with the owner and mentioned that we had spent much of the day wandering in that area. She was polite but thought them ‘Bohemians’ So the area is not liked by all.

Looking into the streets with housing
On the wall map
Designer walk
Edge of the whole complex


In the bakery with the delicious cinnamon scrolls made on the premises

On our wander there we found a gorgeous little bakery where we had coffee and a cinnamon  scroll baked on the premises. We needed to go downstairs into the shop. So delicious that on our way home we bought another for tomorrow’s breakfast (if i can keep it out of Sam’s hands before that!)

Wall art


Our building
Outside the Market
Courtyard at the building where we were staying

We loved where we stayed in Budapest.

Staying near to the Music Centre was a real positive. We were also close to the main market which was a good place to begin taking a look at what was to offer food wise in Budapest.

Jazz night at Budapest Music Centre ‘Opus Jazz Club’ Elena Mindru
Fungi display at the market indicating what is edible

Sam took us straight away to a great little coffee shop that was nearby. It was a great coffee as well!

Ordering coffee

We found a bread shop across the road from the apartment. It had delicous bread.  We were all good for a week here!

Ordering a craft beer!

This was an easy walking city. We did catch the famous number 2 tram to take us along the Danube. We had bought a bundle of transport tickets to enable us to get around. Great that they are transferable to trams and trains.

Building art including three ages of housing
Converted combie into food truck
Food truck at the park
Shoes along the Danube representing the people who were drowned in the river
Street Sulpture

We found wandering along the riverside was a very pleasant way to spend an evening and there was heaps of those breweries to try the local beer. Interesting how a trend like this is a world wide phenomena and we could have been in Melbourne or Sydney – even Castlemaine enjoying the local brew.

View across the Danube

We came across a memorial statue of an eagle and the archangel Gabrielle     It would have gone more or less unnoticed except for the barbwire  strung along the balestrade in front as well as significant images and personal belongings like cases and shoes. Bunches of flowers also indicated sadness. It is in fact a memorial erected in 2014 condemning the Germans for the removal of Jews, gypsies and others during the second world war. At the same time freeing Hungary of any involvement.

The memorial that has never been officially opened
Memorabilia and messages left by those opposing the monument because it fails to recognise the involvement of Hungarians in the Holocaust
The barbed wire addition with messages explaining why the people are opposed to the monument

Protestors to this have written that it is a political monument that is attempting to rewrite social history. They say that in fact Hungary was a supporter of the regime and it is the current government’s far right belief that has put it there. The monument hasn’t been ‘Opened yet’!

We chanced upon an exhibition of Hungarian traditional crafts. This was a most amazing collection with great explanations of each of the installations. But that is another post!

Sam drawing the oldest stone carving in its original position. Matthias Church

The Orangery in the Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

Working out how to get there.

The Orangery in the Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna


To get to the summer palace we had to change a few times on the metro as line 4 was closed for work.

This was a long weekend in Vienna.

Holiday for Whit Sunday. All the shops were shut so everybody was out and about.

The train system here is so efficient it wasn’t an issue. Trains come every 4 minutes. So for us it was the U2 to U1 to U3 to U6 to get there.

Poster for citrus event

I wanted to see the Orangery Garden here. We had seen the one in Potsdam, Germany,  but couldn’t go inside. I had read about this one so it was on the agenda. What I hadn’t realised was that this was a special weekend.

All things citrus. So, we were lucky.

Admiring the Orangery

The Orangery buildings have the most glorious structures. And are kept warm by fires heating through the floor. Not hydro but a dry heating of the floor.

Inside the orangery

We had a chat with a volunteer with the organisation running the event. She was selling crepes. She had made marmalade using the Seville oranges that are grown in the Orangery.

The size of the plants in the pots was amazing. The height of them as well.

When she found out we were Australian she wanted to talk about the finger limes. Always fun to do that!

Checking out the fingerlimes
Finger limes for sale

We even found some for sale!

The crepes, served with lemon marmalade, were delicious and we happily bought some marmalade to take with us to Prague to enjoy.

We were surprised at how few visitors there were in the Orangery but I am guessing that this wasn’t the usual tourist stop. There were hundreds lined up to buy tickets to the tours of the palace although once in the gardens they all dispersed.

Display. Might have been a painting!

There were all the usual suspects in an event like this. It reminded me so much of home.

The Bee keepers, the worm farm, the pruning demonstrations along with the sellers of the different varieties of citrus, the volunteers serving afternoon tea. Even the special displays of citrus.

Good grass root stuff.

Out into the garden and the formal section where the plants (all in pots) are swapped around to be out in the open in summer and then back in for winter.


We found a small coffee shop near here which was hosted by the marionette theatre. The woman who served us has been working with the puppets for 40 years so was really enthusiastic to share her joy, information as well as cake!

It takes up to 6 months for a puppeteer to proficiently ‘walk’ the puppets, then there is the next stage of performing without tangling up with the co-actors.

You have to admire the patience to perform.

Great to see how it is managed
Growing the archways
Expansive walkways

A wander through the more ‘wild’ areas and manicured hedging around natural grasses and shrubs with the odd statue popping up. A beautiful day for a wander and in and out of the green houses.  It still amazes me that we can be amongst what feels like millions of people and then alone in these spaces. I just love the way that these huge cities can carry so many people around. Sam likened it to the footy crowd leaving. But every half hour????

Vestal Virgin: one of the 32 sculptures lining both sides of the Great Parterre. (For you kate and Annie)
Great to see how it is managed
Inside the palm house
The Bunya,bunya.
The Palm house
Hot houses stucture
Never missing a moment to draw

For us it was back to the subway ending a pleasant last day in Vienna.

We loved her!


Fine Art Museum Vienna,

Fine Art Museum Vienna,

It is what it is

Entrance to The Fine Arts Museum. An amazing feeling of opulance


‘Stairway to Klimt’ February – 2nd September 2018, and ‘The Shape of Time’ 6th March – 8th July 2018.

Gustav Klimt. It’s like she is sneaking out from behind the columns

The two exhibitions we saw  at the Fine Art Museum in Vienna.

The most wonderful part for me was that I was going to see the Durers and the Bruegels. As well as Vermeer.

So when I saw that these other exhibitions were on I thought that I might miss out. Galleries often put works away when there are specials on but no!

scaffolding to Klimt
scaffolding above the stairs

As we walked in Sam said they must be doing some renovations here but it wasn’t renovations it was scaffolding to assist us in walking up to get close to the Klimt that are ‘staircase’ to the museum. He was 27 years old when he was commissioned.

These paintings were completed oil on canvas and then stuck to the wall.

Gustav Klimt Amazing to see this up close and to realise that even after over 100 years of being here this canvas has never had to be cleaned!
This figure is considered a key work for modern Art in Vienna
Gustave Klimt

What a great opportunity to be able to climb those stairs to view the works up close. You would need binoculars otherwise.

There was another Kilmt in the Greek and Roman section of the gallery and it was a treat to see as well.

Gustave Klimt Nuda Veritas (1899)
The words on the top are Friedrich Schillers
‘If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, Please a few. To please many is bad’

Klimt certainly challenged his contemporaries with his work and it was interesting to read the information about him.

The text on the painting “Nuda Veritas” (1899) is a poem by Fredrich Schiller and it reads

“If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art,

Please a few. To please many is bad”


The second ‘Highlight’ was ‘The Shape of Time’


Here was an exhibition that slipped into the whole of the first floor of the gallery.

Titian and Picasso
Pope Paul 111 1546
La Celestine 1904 (end of blue period).
The power and the powerless.

It shows 16 paired artworks of modern and the old masters.

The at of looking
Tintoretta – “Susanna and the Elders”
Kerry James Marshall “Untitled”
suggesting the outside viewer

The particular chosen pieces, placed side by side yet ‘scattered’ throughout the floor. A great information panel was placed there for us to read after making our own decision about why these art works are paired.

If you are interested you can go into the link that I put there which talks about them.

Tullio Lombardo sculpture
Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled (Perfect Lovers)
‘Both Artist meditation is on the nature of love and death”
Felix Gonzalez-Torres has put batteries into these clocks at the same time and set them going. One will run out first! Interesting

I was excited to see some Australian involvement with some of the modern pieces.

Fiona Tan, Nursra Lati Qureshi, (her work was from the piece in the Venice Biennially) and Ron Mueck.

Bronzino and Lucian Freud
Family portraits

The other truly special part about today was that we wandered along being able to really take our time to study the works . There weren’t any tours going through, there weren’t any school groups and there weren’t the masses all trying to get to see a famous work.


We were just there savour

ring every moment of the quietness and the time to enjoy.

Comfortable seating to note the thoughts
Sam at lunch – Drawing. A very special place

The Bruegels were magnificent.

Arcimbaodo “Water”


Mompeo to Farfa

Day Seven of walking

Sam with Stefano discussing grass mowing techniques. Donkeys are preferred over goats who eat everything!
Le Mole sul Farfa. Our bathroom is the top window

Mompeo to Farfa

Ready to go. Impending rain

8km km 3 hours –

Weather – light rain at times-

With our rain coats on we set out to Farfa. It was great to have Peter with us as we headed down the track.

A gentle stroll

As I mentioned in the last blog I was really on the lookout for wild asparagus. Alex was with me with this task.

stages of growth of the asparagus

I had been watching out for it every day on this journey and I now know that I was looking for the wrong thing. In fact we had seen masses of prickly stalks everywhere and probably as we were headed south we getting further and further away from the season.


I was looking for the asparagus that pops up like a weed in my garden. It isn’t like that at all (except when it shoots and this is what we eat)

I had hoped to be able to ask someone on our journey and it wasn’t until we reached Le Mole sul Farfa that I saw it in a vase on a table that I knew I was in the right place to ask.

Alex and I found some fresh ‘buds’ as we walked along. We had a taste and agreed we were successful.

Asparagus plant blooming . Very prickly at this point

Interesting that when others tried it they thought it bitter but I think that is because we were gradually picking ones that were a little older.  Mystery number one solved.

gaul from oak tree

Mystery number two: On our walk from day one we had noticed these interesting growths on the oak trees. Because there were so many we decided it must be a different sort of oak tree. Even though when I googled Italian oak trees at night I didn’t find it.

In fact Stefano explained that it is a ‘gaul’ Such a gorgeous specimen. Another mystery solved.

Pencil pines scattered through the valley

The walk today was a pleasant one. There was the downhill walking on concrete paths that were made a little more tricky because of the wet but not really a problem.

Flour and water mill

We passed through a Roman oil and flour mill. Great place to explore and think about how it worked with the various rooms as well as being amazed that even the round mill stones were there. We are talking about ruins from over 2000 years ago!

mill stone
Bridge over mill
mill stone

Then it was on through the light woodland then through a small town and then on to Farfa where we had lunch in the Trattoria da Lupi and enjoyed watching the chefs work with the wood fired oven. There were lots of family groups here enjoying their Sunday together.

Oven in restaurant in Farfa. Note the cardboard flap with keyhole for checking the fire.
Bridge near mill

From there we went on an adventure with Stefano who took us to his Roman Villa and explained how he was excavating this amazing complex under rubble and dung. He has done an amazing job with the assistance of friends and others who come to work for keep. (He is working up to another month of this work)

One entrance to the Villa
Temporary fencing. Made using wire and sticks

We didn’t have to climb down into the pit we walked around past an old farm house and went through a tunnel (cave entrance where he began his excavations which you can sort of see on the chart I photographed of the Lazar scanned system.

This shows the floor plan of the Roman villa

He showed us the Romans had used wood to build form work to make the concrete walls with. The most interesting section was where he showed how olive oil was produced all those thousands of years ago. I did video him talking but the video is too long for this blog!

Stefano explaining how the olive oil making tanks work

The oil from the crushed olives poured through a hole in the roof into one pit with water and because oil is lighter than water with more water coming in from the side the oil would flow off into another tank. This would have been repeated to assist with the purification of the oil.

Wall making
Form work for the concrete. Amazing to think that the Romans were doing this 2000 years ago

Then it was off to visit the olive trees. One carbon dated to be thousands of years old.

This tree is more than 1600 years old. Stefano passionately telling us about the carbon dating. We ate olives from this tree
Olive grove at the Roman Villa site

Such a privilege to listen to a man who is working to ensure that these hills and their history can be preserved.

More of the olive grove
rocky terrain
olive tree

This was the end of our walk and we have now headed to Bologna and now about to leave Budapest.

Hopefully I will get to write about these places.

Casperia to Mompeo

Day Six of walking.

Casperia to Mompeo 16.5 km 8 hours

–Weather – fine-

From our window. The tractor is the only vehicle allowed. It backed down the path collecting rubbish

Casperia was our designation for our rest day. Another hill top town with amazing views.

Fresco inside the house we were staying in The logo indicated the owner and sattus

We stayed in a residence that had been occupied by some sort of high ranking family as noted from the frescos around the main sitting room.

Again it was steps, steps, steps everywhere!


This place seemed to be less religious than previous towns. We weren’t summoned to church at all – the bells everywhere else had called us each morning and evening – and we couldn’t find a way to get into one. The only evidence was on Sunday morning we watched a lady giving students a bible study lesson.

Roberto and Maureen, the couple who own the place where we stayed, were Italian and Welsh. They retired to the town 20 years ago to run this accommodation place with a cooking school and links to another restaurant in town.  He was an architect and award-winning chair designer. There were some curious chairs in the house. As he said to us “the design is interesting but comfort is not a priority.

We enjoyed our pasta making as well as making ‘parmesan cups’ (melting and forming a cup over an upturned bowl). Great for adding anything.

I had loved learning the Lecce style pasta with Anna in Lecce two years ago.

The difference with this pasta was learning about the style of cutting and marking. This dough was made with egg and Jennifer showed us how to make garganelli which is like penne for us. The other thing they did was to make a sauce using fresh artichokes. So delicious. That is certainly going to be on our menu.

On with the walk.

Ready to go up that path by the clock

Sam and I headed to the supermarket/deli just outside the city walls to get our lunches. It was interesting to note how the prices of the lunches was going down! We had paid  €16.60 in Spoletto on our first day for 5 lunches. We were now down to €12.00 in Casperia. It had been getting cheaper every day!! (Always ordering the same food). They must do this a lot as the girl serving didn’t hesitate in preparing the rolls for us all with a gorgeous smile.

Is this storm going to get to us?

This was to be a gentlish day with a slow rise to 700m then bumping away down to 300m where we would finish at an organic farm and the most delightful time with Stefano and Elisabeth.


This was a much easier walk than we have been doing and there were lots of nice strolls through gorgeous oak forests and then meandering river streams. Beautiful views across the hill tops. As we looked across the colours reminded me of Kaffe Fasset designs and how we were so impressed with the way that he knitted the landscape.

Is that where we are headed??

I don’t think my photos captured that tone that he was able to achieve; my knitting didn’t either.

Along a pleasant path
sign on the rock
Between the rock
Through the fence

Then we got lost! Not in a bad way but we did. We think that the reason we were off the path was because we were headed through a field or two and the farmer had knocked over some pegs.

Wheat crop. We had to walk around it and find markers. A tricky task this one
Rough terrain!

Still with our trusty compass in the phone, the maps and instructions and a check on the path that was on the GPS app on the phone we were all good. It was sensible to have battery backup for our phones. It was quite special walking around the growing wheat though and then to stumble through the stony fields to cut across.

This journey was so like the story of ‘We’re Going On. Bear Hunt’ Across the river through the grass etc. “…stumble trip, stumble trip.”

Small farm
Hugh old olive trees
Over the barbed wire fence

We had more small creeks to cross before we came to Le Mole sul Farfa Stefano and Elisabeth’s organic farm. Our home for two nights.

As the week passed we saw less and less of grapes and more and more olive groves. And the trees seemed to be getting older and older.

Elisabeth was bottling her elderflower cordial as we turned up so it was great to be able to compare notes on the way we make ours. It was so lovely to talk about her links to Sydney as she follows the Cornersmith people using their pickling methods and ideas. This place is just around the corner from Robyn, Peter and Alex. Small world.

We ate olives from their trees, oil as well.

Elisabeth prepares vegetarian meals so this was a delight as well in fact we enjoyed the most wonderful pasta sauce I think I have ever tasted. A quite sweet tomato taste with her passata. But maybe we had just been away from this fresh taste for a while.

AND we found wild asparagus. I will write about that tomorrow.

Made it without getting wet feet.
Crossing the stream.
We didn’t realise we were so close to others. A man walking his dogs!
Green waste ready for collection. They take recycling very seriously here
New crops in. You can see the plant labels.
A meadow
Onto a rocky path

Grecco to Casperia

Ready to go – See that hill. Its all up from here!

Day Four of walking Grecco to Casperia

19 km 7 hours –

Weather – fine-

“Tough Climb at the start but easier after”!!!

I looked out the window and saw the tough part. It was straight up!!

The first hour (this usually means two for us) in full sun.

Heading up. The climb begins

The first climb was from 700 metres to 1110 metres.

This is where we are headed for

When we first read this we also read that if we wanted we could avoid the first half of the walk by getting a lift then walking the second part. Alex suggested that the first half looked the most interesting. We could get a lift at that later spot to get to Casperia.

We agreed that we would do this and we did!


Opening one of the ‘gates’ on the path
We thought we were getting near to the top. There have been the water troughs like this throughout the walk

The poles helped and the fact that we had been walking for three days REALLY helped.

I was surprised that as we got moving we were really much stronger than we thought.

Onward and upward – a stony climb

I am glad that I was not carrying my overnight needs, and I was really happy with the way I had looked after my feet.

You hear of people with all sorts of issues with blisters and trouble spots but we were fine thanks to ‘compede’ and these lovely gel tubes that slipped onto the toes to provide the comfort of ‘slippers’ for the toes as we walked.

Looking down on Sam as he brings up the rear
Across a meadow before climbing again

This day provided the most wonderful of views across the hills as well as the forest walks. Just so beautiful and quite breathtaking at times with just how special this part of the world is. Again, we were heading for a hill top town.

At one point we were wandering through what was very much like an English country scene, an oak forest, then there was more steep climbing before we came to the most amazing part of this day.

Through the oak forest coming into bud

We came over the horizon to see this fantastic sight. Communal grazing for sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and horses There were no fences. The animals were all co-habitating the area. The sheep were being looked after by maremma dogs. There were two flocks that we could see. One lot had white dogs the second had black and white ones. This is the original area for these dogs. (Maremmano, is a breed of livestock guardian dog indigenous to central Italy, particularly to Abruzzo and the Maremma region of Tuscany and Lazio. It has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. The literal English translation of the name is “The dog of the shepherds of the Maremma and Abruzzese region”.

From Wikipedia)

The communal pasture

There were the remnants of a few houses here – in the notes they were talked of as shepherds houses

Shepherd’ hut

The lead cow had a bell on.

abandoned shepherd huts

We all commented on the bucolic nature of the area.

A maremma dog on guard

As we wandered through we decided we had to stay longer to watch how it worked. We sat awhile enjoying this special moment (or hour)


We felt so privileged to be part of this scene.


Reluctantly we moved on. Through gentle woodland and down to a stream. However here we came to our first issue of erosion. The bank of the river had broken away and we had to get around it somehow!

Just before the eroded area. This is probably the reason.

We couldn’t go up – too steep – We couldn’t go down – the same issue. So we clambered across one at a time clinging on to the roots that were exposed. So exciting to make the other side. All in the day’s adventures!

Eroded path
Looking across to Contanello

The walk flattened out after this and we arrived at the town of Contanello.

Paused for a draw
The Eremo of San Cataldo A shrine dedicated to Saint Cataldo and was probably used as a hermitage by Benedictine monks.

Here we enjoyed a beer, called for a ride to Casperia where we were to stay the night and then have the whole next day off. We are on holidays. We deserved the ride.

We wait for a car to pick us up
Path in Casperia
Our place in Casperia. The green shutters