Our morning started similar to every morning here: with chocolate croissants and cappuccinos. My sister Zoe would love it 😉.
We started our day by attending mass at the smaller of the two churches in Gallo. We entered late and took a seat behind the only other four people attending. All older ladies.
Michael, Josh, and I all wanted to go. Even though we knew we’d be unable to understand it, we wanted to sit in the place where perhaps Joseph Muccio attended as a young man. I’m learning so much family history through this trip and I can’t possibly share all the details, but here’s the basics…
Joseph Muccio was born in Gallo Matese and is the grandfather (or Puppo) of Michael Muccio, which makes him Josh’s great-grandfather and our children’s great-great-grandfather. He left Italy when he was just 17 years old to come to America where he settled in Pennsylvania and married his wife, who was also Italian.
We arrived in Gallo Matese! Caterina picked us up at the train station in Venafro and drove us to her bed and breakfast. The drive up into the mountains was gorgeous.
She also had a platter of Italian cookies for us. (She speaks my love language.)
Today was lovely and restful. We weren’t trying to bang out a bunch of tourist spots and driving ourselves to exhaustion because of it. I am not a fan of feeling the pressure to see everything that’s here just because you are here! You’ve gotta build rest into your vacations.
The time difference has been hard when waking up in the morning, and in Rome restaurants don’t open for dinner before 7 or 7:30. Since you don’t want to go to sleep right after eating dinner, you stay up late. Plus, at home it’s not bed time. Our buffet every morning is from 7 to 9 AM. Today we made it down there at 9:05 AM. Aye… It’s like waking the dead. But, oh how I love those heavy blackout drapes!
Josh napped after breakfast and I relaxed before we walked to Galleria Borghese. We ate a block of cheese and fresh bread on the way.
Today has been amazing! We drove all over Siena, Tuscany tasting wine, climbing castles, and buying pecorino cheese & Italian leather. I am satisfied.
I was growing a bit weary of the city and longing for some green. Josh and I booked a tour with Walks of Italy and I recommend it 110%. We’ve learned so much and enjoyed every single part of it. The views are gorgeous. The wine is delicious, and the lunch with the Italians prepared on their farm will be a forever memory.
Today was both good and disappointing. Basically, the colosseum closed for a special event before we could get inside to see it. We did, however, see the Roman Forum and used the Rick Steves free audio tour to learn about it all.
I purposely picked out a novel with Rome as the setting for this trip. Of course, I read the whole thing on the flight here, because I’m a book nerd, as my loving sister Kati calls me 🤓. Ancient Rome is intriguing and depressing all at the same time.
Food and art. Mmm… The two things that have drawn me to Italy. My sophomore year of college I took Art History with Professor Opp. And thanks to him I fell in love with Renaissance art and the Baroque period. Art History was not an easy course – it was challenging, which made me appreciate it all the more. I learned so much and knew that one day I’d have to see the works for myself.
When I stepped into St. Peter’s Basilica today and saw Bernini’s baldacchino (the bronze pavillion) I was amazed at the size! In class, I memorized artwork and artists and dates based on tiny pictures, and to see this piece in real life and so massively huge brought tears to my eyes. “I am here. I am in Italy,” I thought. It finally hit me.
Buongiorno! We arrived in Roma at 8:30 AM local time. My full amount of sleep on the plane was approximately 1 hour – ha!
The drive from the airport to our hotel was in Josh’s words “probably the scariest ride of my life.” I definitely expected crazy driving so I mostly laughed about it. Until we slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting pedestrians.
As our rooms were not ready at check in we left our bags with concierge and set out to find a bar for espresso and pastries. (Many thanks to Riccardo for his patience with us at check in and for knowing how to spell our last name!!! Yay! We are in Italia! I don’t have to spell out our name. That lasted all of 5 minutes when we got to concierge where the guy tried to put an “a” where the “o” should be 😏)
On our walk to find food we happened upon a church at the Quattro Fontane (4 fountains – one on each corner of the small intersection) We stepped inside the small church and enjoyed the beauty of our first Roman sight. I picked up a few small cards as free souvenirs – pretty little artistic things – and the search for espresso and pastries continued.