Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Italy 2013: SPELLO

Get ready for photo overload. I tried to split it up into two different posts but it just wasn't flowing nicely, so I just lumped our time in Spello into one big mega-post!

So where were we? Oh yes, we had a little fun in Chicago, and then we got on our flight to Rome. Now, we knew that from start to finish, Charlotte to Spello (our first destination), it would be fairly exhausting, but boy, I don't think we really knew what was in store for us. 
I had hoped that, since we had been awake since 3am Saturday morning, we'd easily fall asleep on the plane and arrive in Rome in no time. But oh, I dream. Even with benadryl and having the third seat empty so we could take turns stretching out, we still got next to no sleep. Some episodes of 30 Rock and Flight of the Conchords (which we were able to watch together on my iPhone, thanks to a headphone splitter and Joey's genius iPhone stand finagled out of a Starbucks hot cup sleeve and a coffee stirrer), though entertaining, still were not enough to speed up the time.

Eventually we landed in Rome around 8:30am local time (2:30am for us really--so about 24 hours since we woke up). We knew dealing with the airport and getting to the train station would be stressful so we told ourselves that we'd get there when we get there, and there's no need to rush. That worked pretty well for us, until we got to the train station in Rome and needed to catch the train to Spello and couldn't figure out which track it was on (because apparently Termini has some tucked away secret track that you'd never know was there!). 

Enter our charitable young man/scammer/jerk face. This guy offered to help us find the track, which we normally would've refused but we didn't have time to find a map of the station, didn't know where to go, and were running out of time. So we followed him around the station (and, you know, praying he wasn't leading us naive American tourists down a dark hallway to stab us and take our stuff) and finally found our train. Drenched in sweat (oh, did I not mention that it was a sunny day in August and there's no AC pretty much anywhere?), we jumped on the train with minutes to spare, and our 'friend' loaded our bags on. Now, I knew that if someone goes out of their way to help you, its common courtesy to tip them for their service, so as we walked I had already grabbed a couple euros to give the kid. After he sat our bags down and before he even asked for anything, I put the money in his hand. And then, with the most indignant face (like I had just insulted his mother), he looks at me, scoffs at the money, and demands more. 10 euros he insists. And I'm sittin' there thinking, 'kid, I'm not paying you $14 just for showing me where a train is'. So I tell him no. 5 euros then. And again I tell him no. And he just kept waiting there, as if by refusing to leave he could pressure us into more money. After huffing and puffing he finally left (and didn't take our bags with him in retaliation, thank goodness) and we found a couple seats and poured our sweaty selves into a slump for the next couple hours.

And it was in those couple hours---soaked in sweat, sleep deprived, and rather annoyed that people can't just do something nice just for the sake of being nice---that all of the magic of a fantastic Italian honeymoon began to drastically fade. Oh and lets toss in that we couldn't get in contact with the woman that was going to pick us up from the train station in Spello and we had no idea what to do too. All I could think was 'what were we thinking?! What.did.we.do. We're dumb and crazy and we've paid far too much money for this trip and oh my gosh what are we going to do?'. And then I gracefully fainted on a velvet chaise lounge because I was clearly being dramatic. But I did learn later that day that Joey was thinking the exact same thoughts, so I didn't feel as bad about succumbing to the stress of traveling internationally on our own for the first time. Eventually we both calmed down, the woman in Spello contacted us and we arranged for our pick up, and things started to turn around.

Ok ok, enough with all the talking, now lets get to our actual trip---

We made it to Spello and met Monia, the owner of our B&B at the train station. She was like an angel from heaven. She was so kind and friendly, spoke English, and got us to our cute little apartment where we could finally relax, shower, and recharge.
When I went to Italy with SVU Travel Study two years ago, our professor took us to Spello for our first few days. Italy 2011 ladies---I can testify that there is a reason we went there first! It was like night and day compared to our first few hours in Italy. Spello truly is relaxing and peaceful, and if it wasn't for that, we probably would've lost it. We even canceled some of the plans we had for neighboring Assisi just so we can relax in Spello. I mean Joey and I love traveling and are always go-go-going on our vacations, but even we needed a break. If you're traveling to multiple cities in Italy, please go to Spello (or somewhere like it) for the first couple days. Your sanity will thank you.
To continue our efforts to relax and regroup, we decided to go with a picnic dinner. So we headed to a tiny grocery I remembered, grabbed some fruit and things for sandwiches, and headed back to our apartment. We attempted to eat outside on our own personal patio, but rain clouds set in so we moved the party inside. After dinner it was an early night for us!
Oh and this handsome boy! He was our pint sized neighbor in Spello that always perked up when we came home.
The next day, rejuvenated and once again excited about Italy, we set out to do a little exploring and lots of walking.
We found another perfect shop to grab porchetta sandwiches for lunch---a requirement for our trip that I insisted on and we quite rewarding. Sorry Whole Foods, your 'porchetta' has nothing on the real deal! 
Love-love-loved the herringbone brick everywhere.
And the olive trees too! I don't even like olives, but I'd love to have an olive tree so I could look at those gorgeous silver leaves all the time.
For you, Mal! Just one of the many friendly kitties.
Ancient Roman arch.
I took a page from Barbara Crawfords book and took Joey to the same Roman Aqueduct that I visited on my Travel Study trip.
Spello had arguably the best gelato we had in Italy
After our walk to the Roman Aqueduct the rain clouds once again rolled in so we took a little afternoon break at our apartment and watched the rain come down.
And out once again after the rain passed! We popped in to some of the churches along the main street in Spello.
Spello is all about walking around and getting lost in all of the tiny streets that weave throughout the city. On our walk one of the things we happened upon was the ancient city gate.
Our last meal in Spello was amazing. We found this itty bitty restaurant in the back of a wine store. The people there were so friendly and told us all about the various foods that are special to Spello and the Umbria area, particularly olive oil and truffles. One of the women that worked there had even vacationed in Charleston, so we had a little connection to chat about, which was neat because Spoleto (a city right next door to Spello) is Charleston's sister city. But oh, the food! We tried a bruschetta plate with different Spello olive oils, white truffle and black truffle tapenades, pesto, and fresh tomatoes. Next was fresh pasta with truffles, and a traditional plum crostata for dessert. We loved our meal so much, we bought a big bottle of Umbria olive oil and the black truffle tapenade to bring back with us!
After a couple very lovely days in Spello we headed to one of my favorite places--Florence! 

Phew! Talk about photo overload. 
The next few days of our trip should be much easier to break up into several posts, so stay tuned!


  1. Love the blog and pic's guys...brings back so many memories of my deployments and visits over there.

  2. Goodness gracious. I am dying. Those pictures are amazing. My husband has been looking into the Air Force (they aren't too keen on him having ADHD though). I want him to join just so I can TRAVEL. AMAZING!


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