I like Rome. But Rome is a place. By this I mean that, like any other place, you notice flaws after a while. And suddenly a combination of little flaws (a rude cashier, public transportation strikes, etc.) makes you very bitter toward an awesome city. So. I decided it was time to take a break this weekend. Like any other type of relationship, sometimes you need some distance.
So, this past Friday I took the train from Rome to Tivoli. And Saturday I enjoyed a couple wine tastings with my friends in Tuscany.
I will be honest here and admit that I knew NOTHING about this town before I came except that it cost 3 Euro and one hour to get there from Rome. So, I was sold. The train-ride there provided lovely window-side views of countryside. The train arrived, and Tivoli was not cluttered, and I felt very relieved.
Blind-travelling is both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, I didn’t know what there was to do there. The whole plan was the wander for six hours and see what happened. As a result, I did not know that the GORGEOUS Tivoli waterfall is just 300 meters from the train station, and that I could have gone on a calm, pensive, scenic hike immediately upon arriving. Alas, I just headed into the town instead. I saw several signs pointing to a place called Villa d’Este and kind of just followed them to see what this place was. I guess it’s the biggest tourist attraction in Tivoli, I found in later research.
(Also, I will point out that I tripped outside my apartment that morning before I even left Rome and messed up my ankle. So maybe it’s good that I didn’t get to hike on a wet waterfall trail that day…)
This Villa is such a popular attraction for a good reason- It’s gorgeous. I spent two hours sitting in the outdoor gardens. Except for one really annoying middle-school tour group that liked to disturb my peace every half hour or so, there weren’t really hordes of people. The atmosphere mostly remained peaceful. I could just sit in front of this gorgeous waterfall and think, “Whoa, someone lived here forever ago. THIS was their backyard.” (Also: “How Rich do you have to be…?”)
A compilation of pictures from the first distraction/town:
There is so much green in Tuscany. In Rome, you don’t see a lot of green. You see a lot of cigarette butts and wine corks in between the cracks of the cobblestone; you see a lot of gelato; you see a lot of walking tours. But you don’t see a lot of green. You also don’t realize how polluted Rome air actually is until you take in the fresher air of Italy.
The first wine tour was at this place called Winery Gattevecchi in Montepulciano. Our tour guide told us about how this winery had been in her family since he 1950’s. She took us down a couple flights of stairs where the wine lay in huge barrels. She took us to a room upstairs where people at the winery had set up beautifully a tasting for us. Three types of red wine, two types of cheese, my type of place. A friend and I found a random path to walk down later and experienced some beautiful views of the region.
The first winery tour took place in a town with businesses and cobblestone just like so many other Italian cities. The second tour took place in Montalcino, which was surrounded by green green fields. We walked through rows and rows of beautiful bunches of purple grapes until the tour began. The tasting here took place in a shed-like room that overlooked the fields below.
I never did get to see sunflower fields. Still, Tuscany was awesome, and a short break from Rome for fresh air and fancy wine was very necessary.