A Taste of Italy. Level 2.
Listed as level 2, this tour pushed the envelope. We started off with a bus ride and a rest stop. Restrooms were down steep steps. We had a person using a walker who managed but it wasn’t easy. The guide encouraged us to get a cappuccino or espresso while here, and we were astounded to discover it was a McDonalds. Their McCafe had the most amazing pastries and real Italian coffee. My husband and I split a pastry that was as far from anything a stateside McDonalds had to offer as Italy is from the US.
Then we stopped for the tour of Castel Gandolfo, previous papal residence. From the parking lot to street level was a set of steep stairs. We got to the landing only to find another set of stairs, which was frustrating to the woman using the walker. From there we crossed the road but the sidewalk was only a few feet long before ending with a bit of a curb where we need to turn the corner, necessitating a step into the street. Again, not friendly to people with mobility issues. From there, we faced a very steep cobblestone street. The woman with the walker struggled quite a bit as did some of the other people who were not in the best of shape. The guide assured us it was all flat from there but as we got to the crest we found a short level part followed by two more steep climbs. So if you have mobility issues, think twice about this excursion.
Having said all that, we once again got to view the outside of a museum, assured that you can get in only with tickets bought months in advance. We strolled around the small square and then made our way down the back road which was also steep. The back way was a narrower road so we had to use the cobblestone sidewalk, which was quite uneven. The bus parking area has some gorgeous murals painted on the retaining walls. And the town square had intriguing barcode squares done in mosaic tile.
From there we drove to the restaurant for the cooking demonstration with the matriarch of the farm. The drive itself was interesting because the usual route was now off limits to buses and neither the driver nor tour guide seemed to know that, or the best route to take. I wanted to offer then my GPS.
Finally, at the farm/restaurant. “Nonna” was delightful. We had been told she talked slowly and the guide would translate. Well, perhaps she spoke slowly for an Italian, but she chattered away and the guide gave us a bit of translation. We were served slices of bread that had been grilled with olive oil, and plates of bacon. Most of us awkwardly waited to see if we should begin eating or wait to eat (or pour wine) but finally just dug in. The cooking demo was short.
We then moved into the dining area and were served more wine and plates of lasagna and gnocchi, which hit your senses like a day of Tuscan summer and sun-washed love.
However, we were a tour group and as they were serving espresso (asking if we really wanted any), the group was given the cue to leave.
To end the tour, we did a drive-by tour of Rome, with one quick photo stop, followed by a restroom stop at another McDonalds.
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