20 November 2006

Touring with my parents

My parents were in Italy for ten days earlier this month and Valerie and I practiced being tour guides. We picked them up in Roma at the airport and headed to Umbria to a small rental house outside of Citta della Pieve. Each morning we awoke to a heavy blanket of fog that dispersed by mid-day. This location gave us a central point to see part of Umbria and Firenze via the A1 and trenitalia. We spent one day seeing the sights around Orvieto and Citta della Pieve and the next day took the train from Chuisi to Firenze. In Firenze we hit all the major tourist stops and my mom left some of her money at the gold stores on the Ponte Vechio. We also visited Santa Croce, which Valerie and I had never visited on our previous trips to Firenze, with all of its tombs to famous Italians such as Michelangelo and Dante. No quick tour would be complete without a visit to the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria.

We then drove to Ascoli Piceno for a few days to show my parents how Italians really live away from the influence of heavy tourist traffic. We spent time wandering the medieval streets here in Ascoli and touring the fertile countryside around Offida. We made a stop in Ripatransone to see “the narrowest street in Italy” and a brief stop along the Adriatic coast. In Ascoli my parents experienced the daily rhythm in an Italian town and my dad even bought some Italian shoes at the mercato.

My parents had the opportunity to experience some true Italian hospitality as our landlords invited the four of us to their fondaco for a meat fest. Guerrino and Dorina grilled pork sausages, chops and ribs on the fireplace and we washed this down with homemade wine, as well as “cooked wine” which is sweeter and more potent, as my dad discovered.

We then headed to Roma for a couple days before they flew back to Atlanta. Our first day we took the 110 Open Bus tour around the centro. This gave them the opportunity to get an overview of town and we stopped to tour the Colosseo, San Pietro and the area around Fontana de Trevi. The 110 Open Bus is supposed to provide audio commentary on the sights but we have found this commentary to be lacking in content and the equipment not always functional. Valerie always provides more information that the commentary. We also visited the areas around Piazza Colonna, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and the Piazza Spagna (making our way through the Tom Cruise groupies).

My parents experienced their first true gelato, prosciutto, caffé and cappuccino. They were able to see some of Italy that many frequent visitors never get to experience with people and food not available on the tourist paths. Now they know what real Italian food is like.

Each time we visit Roma with family our friends Giorgio and Francesca insist we come to their apartment for dinner. This is always a treat as Giorgio is a great cook and Francesca is a wonderful host. My parents were not disappointed by this experience with some true Romani.

After seeing my parents off to the airport we met Giorgio and Francesca for pranzo and headed back to Ascoli. Since we moved here in September we have had visitors for half of our stay, we look forward to a few weeks here in Ascoli as the holidays approach.

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