Al Vecchio Fontanile

For our last night in Italy, I had found a B&B situated in the rural outskirts of Rome, only a half hour drive to the airport. We had a few issues with the GPS, it seemed some of the road names were different to the directions we had been given. After a few trips up and down the same stretch of road, we eventually arrived at Al Vecchio Fontanile. The stone farmhouse was only a few years old

1.the farmhouse

and was surrounded by fruit trees and olive trees.

2.the orchard

The younger family members were very welcoming and well behaved.

Our room was comfortable and beautifully finished, it felt like we were in a much older house.

5.our room

I love the detail in the curtains.

9.curtains

The quality and style continued in the bathroom.

10.bathroom

After relaxing with a restorative beverage or two, we drove to a nearby ristorante, Il Sogna and enjoyed delicious ravioli, gnocchi and panna cotta. We were bestowed with complimentary biscotti and homemade grappa before wending our way back, without the help of the GPS. The breakfast spread the next morning was sensational.

11.breakfast

Served in a lovely sunny room it was the perfect way to start the day.

15.breakfast

Bolsena

On a hot, sunny day we reluctantly said arrivederci to Il Castagno and set off toward Rome for our final night in Italy. I had looked at the map and chosen a place to stop for lunch on the way, Bolsena. The town was beautiful, the old buildings merged perfectly with the new.

1.Bolsena2.Bolsena3.Bolsena4.Bolsena

7.Bolsena

We parked the car and walked the plane tree-lined avenue toward the lake.

8.Bolsena

Some of the homes were absolutely stunning.

9.Bolsena10.Bolsena

As we neared the lake,

11.Bolsena

we knew exactly where we were having lunch. Trattoria del Moro, perched right over the water, had spectacular views of Lake Bolsena.

12.Trattoria del Moro13.Trattoria del Moro

The largest volcanic lake in Europe has, fortunately, been dormant since 104BC.

14.Lake Bolsena

19.Lake Bolsena

We dined al fresco, the fish was excellent and with the vino and the sunshine, we could have lingered for hours.

24.fish and chips

Instead, we slowly made our way back to the car,

25.The Castle of Bolsena26.Bolsena27.Bolsena

31.Bolsena

trying not to think about the imminent end to our wonderful trip. I think Michael would fit in well in Italy.

32.Michael

We will be returning to Italy next year and will make sure a trip to Bolsena and lunch by the lake is on the agenda.

Assisi

Following our wonderful morning exploring Spello, we drove to Assisi, another ancient town dating back to 1000BC. Sometimes it is difficult to discern where the roads end and pedestrian ways begin when entering these old towns. I was more than a little alarmed to find myself driving into the main piazza. I hastily retreated down the first apparent exit and sought a car park outside the town walls. We re-enacted the initial entry, sans vehicle, and proceeded with our Assisi adventure.

1.Piazza del Comune2.Piazza del Comune

In 238AD, Assisi was converted to Christianity by Bishop Rufino, his remains rest in Assisi Cathedral. Built in the 12th century and dedicated to San Rufino, it was in this church that Saint Francis of Assisi was baptized in 1182.

We wandered the streets of this beautiful town

6.Assisi

10.Assisi

17.Assisi

before enjoying a delicious lunch at La Lanterna. I finally got the chance to try cinghiale (wild boar) in a sensational stew and Michael had superbly cooked maialino (suckling pig).

18.La Laterna

We walked off our lunch climbing to Rocca Maggiore,

19.Rocca Maggiore

a huge medieval castle built as a military fortress around 1174 on the summit of the hill.

20.Rocca Maggiore22.Rocca Maggiore23.Rocca Maggiore

Stopping to catch our breath, we were rewarded with spectacular views of Assisi.

24.Assisi

The 13th century Basilica of Saint Clare featured majestically in the landscape.

25.Basilica of St Clare26.Spoleto Valley

There was much to explore at Rocca Maggiore.

35.Rocca Maggiore

41.Rocca Maggiore

47.Rocca Maggiore

This inscription commemorates Pope Pius II

48.Rocca Maggiore polygonal tower

who completed the polygonal tower in 1460,

49.Rocca Maggiore polygonal tower

as well as the passages linking it to the main fortifications.

50.Rocca Maggiore51.Rocca Maggiore

The castle was extensively renovated in 2002 and there are fantastic exhibitions of medieval life, weaponry and musical instruments.

From the top, the 360° views across the Spoleto Valley and Assisi were breathtaking.

69.view from Rocca Maggiore65.view from Rocca Maggiore66.view from Rocca Maggiore67.view from Rocca Maggiore70.view from Rocca Maggiore71.view from Rocca Maggiore

We ambled down the hill to town, had one last gelato for the road,

72.gelato

and returned for our final night at Il Castagno.

Spello

After consulting the map to plan another day trip from Il Castagno, we ventured across the border into Umbria. The warm day was overcast as we reached Spello, an ancient walled town that became a Roman colony, Hispellum, in the 1st century BC.

1.Portonaccio

The town walls and arched entrance gates are remarkably intact, we began our walk at Porta Consolare.

2.Porta Consolare

We were instantly enchanted by this place, with its beautiful architecture

and narrow, stone streets.

12.street

13.street

Magnificent arches led down intriguing alleyways.

We ambled our way to the top of the town, admiring the homes with more than a little envy.

Some windows had better views than others,

and, of course, those fabulous Italian doors were countless.

The most impressive doorway was that of the Baglioni Chapel, part of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

44.Baglioni Chapel

The chapel is adorned with well preserved frescoes, painted by Pinturicchio in 1500AD, none of which I photographed.

45.Baglioni Chapel

There was so much to admire in this wonderful, ancient town.

Porta dell’ Arce, a double limestone arc, was the original northern entrance to the Roman city.

We made our way back to the lower end of town, not forgetting to investigate the shops

59.Spello

and admire the spectacular scenery along the way.

66.view