Monday was a bittersweet day. I felt sadness at the thought of leaving Rome and wistful about the sights I still wanted to see and restaurants in which I still wanted to dine. Yet at the same time, I was really excited to begin the next chapter of my Italian adventure which involved cooking, sightseeing, eating and drinking Soriano Nel Cimino.
I spent my final morning at Hotel Lord Byron, packing my bags and having a leisurely lunch in the hotel’s restaurant. It was completely empty and I felt weird being the only person there, but I enjoyed a panini and was soon off to the train station – “Roma Termini”.
After some minor confusion and frustration, I finally located my train and started to board when I was greeted by a young, sweet looking, nicely dressed girl. She offered to help me get my giant and heavy suit case on the train. I had over-packed (I’m usually way more efficient) and was having a rather a tough time doing so myself. Thinking she was being nice, I accepted her help.
After helping me store my luggage in the train’s compartment, she suddenly said “Any tips will be greatly appreciated.” I thought she was joking, so I laughed and thanked her for her help, and started to walk back to my seat. She followed me and said she was serious. I gave her what small change I had which amounted to about 5o cents. I felt bad as I would not have accepted her help if I had known she wasn’t just being kind.
Next she went to the back of the train near to where the luggage was located and started speaking to a woman who had a seat there. They spoke for a few minutes and the young girl left. I knew something suspicious was occurring so I watched my luggage very closely for the rest of the trip, especially when the train stopped at a station.
I learned some lessons about train travel while in Italy. To help make your experience fun and hopefully stress free, read my previous post 14 Tips for Stress for Stress Free Train Travel in Italy.
The rest of the train ride was enjoyable, but short. I was headed only a short distance away to Orte, where someone from the tour company Culture Discovery would be picking me and anyone else in the group up to take us into Soriano.
A couple of cute things happened. Each time I looked back to check on my suitcase, I would catch the eye of an incredibly good-looking, well dressed man who would smile at me. I’d smile back of course, but I was more interested in my luggage than him. A train employee also shouted out “belissmo” when he was checking my ticket. It made me blush, but I just laughed. By this time, I had grown accustomed to the extremely aggressive and persistent behavior of Italian men.
At the train station, we were picked by the lovely Bill and Carol, a Italian American couple who work with the owners of Culture Discovery. I met some other group members – a really nice couple from Calgary, Alberta who were in Italy celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. The other two members in the group had missed their train, so we would meet them later that night.
The drive from Orte into Soriano Nel Cimino was lovely but the town itself took my breath away. Think of a beautiful medieval town nestled in the mountains. It was like taking a step back in time.
Upon arrival in town, we were all escorted to our accommodations. I was to say at Vecchio Forno, formerly a 13th century bakery served the pope and has a bedroom completely carved out of rock. An overwhelmingly charming villa, that made me feel like I was living in a dream.
Greeting me inside was fresh flowers, a bottle of wine, fresh pastries and fruit. Yes, I was in heaven!
A while later, the group met up with Bill and Carol to have a drink, get to know one another better, and discuss the week ahead. Finally met the other two members of the group, two female companions, both nurses and friends, from the US. We had a great time chatting and walked around Soriano’s medieval quarter. I snapped picture after picture!
We then went for dinner at a place called Taverna dei Frati, which used to be an ancient monastery! We ate well, we ate a lot, and it was good. It would set the stage for the rest of the tour.
A sampling of Local Salame, Prosciutto, Porcini Bruschetta, Olive Bruschetta, Ascoline Olives (fried sausage-stuffed olives), and Sutrini (a local crepe with romano cheese)
For our first course tonight, we will have samplings of two local pasta dishes: Gnocchi col Ferro (a local specialty eggless pasta that is hand rolled in an Arrabiata sauce) and Ciuffetti Sorianesi (hand made pasta purses, stuffed with radicchio and speck in a parmesan cream sauce).
After our pasta dishes we will sample local grilled sausages and tagliata al aceto balsamico (A grilled steak, marinated in balsamic vinegar atop a bed of rucola salad)
Finally we will be brought a lemon sorbet dessert and end our evening with a glass of Limoncello
As always, wine is provided with all dinners, and we favor small local wineries wherever we dine. Tonight’s wine will be a local red Umbrian wine.
Pictures from the dinner to be posted at a later date.
We also got to meet Michael and Paola. A very busy, lively, super nice, incredibly helpful and fun couple who are the owners of Culture Discovery.
It had been a wonderful day. After dinner, I returned to my villa and fell asleep full and happy. I looked forward with that was to come!