Thursday, May 29, 2014

Italy! (Day Four) TUSCANY!

Today we hopped on the bus and left Rome behind to travel through Umbria, one of Italy's most beautiful and historic regions.  It's called the "Green Heart of Italy" and features Etruscan ruins, historical monuments and some of Italy's oldest churches.  We started the day in the medieval hill town of Orvieto (meaning "old city").  This beautiful old city was built over an ancient volcanic butte overlooking vineyards and villages.  It was once populated by the Etruscans, predecessors of the Romans, and we got to see lots of Italian Gothic architecture.

To get there, we took a "funicular" to the top of the mountain.  A funicular is like a little train that takes you from the bottom to the top.  Once there, we got to explore the village.  There were many ceramic pottery stores with beautiful, hand painted pottery.  There were Italian kitchen stores, souvenir shops, and beauty everywhere!

 This beautiful cathedral was in the main piazza of the town.  The outside and the inside were exquisite!

This was my FAVORITE purchase of our trip!  A beautiful, ceramic, hand painted platter.  It's 2 feet tall, and 2 feet wide.  We had it shipped home, and I was ELATED that it made it in one piece (even though Colton completely scared me when he teased me that it hadn't...naughty boy!).

A view down the mountain from our "funicular" as we made the return trip down...

The view from our bus back up the hillside at the town of Orvieto.  The following pictures are our view driving to our lunch reservation at a beautiful vineyard.  This was arguably the best food of our trip!

This was our view as we ate lunch...

They brought out salad, lasagna, and grilled vegetables as a first course.  The second course was all kinds of grilled meats.  Dessert was a traditional "grandmother's cake".  The person making the cake did a demonstration showing us how, then sent us each home with a copy of the recipe!

After lunch, we were given free time to roam the grounds and enjoy the beauty of this beautiful farm...

Our AWESOME Disney guides, Cathleen and Marco!

Next we traveled to our hotel in Tuscany...

The next 3 nights would be at the Hotel Borgo di Cortefreda.  This was a BEAUTIFUL setting.

Our balcony opened up to a beautiful view of the Tuscan countryside (see below).  That night we were treated to a beautiful Tuscan dinner at the hotel.

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