It keeps getting better........ but tomorrow is our last day :(

Wow! We survived Natale. It’s hard to believe that it’s the day after. We slept until almost 10:30am. The big surprise when we arrived downstairs was Lucia and her family were still asleep. What a great night.

Wish we could say the same about the weather today. No complaints from me as their idea of rain and ours is substantially different. But I have to say, today was the first day I felt cold outside. The temperature barely made it into the 40’s, and with high humidity, you definitely felt a chill.

We hung out with Zia Adrianna and Zio Mario in the morning. Zia was nice enough to take us into town to see the square of Rignano and also see Zia Maria’s apartment. Zia Maria was Mario’s sister. She passed away in October. I told you about her last night.

Anyway, the apartment is cute and quite small. Living room, dining room and kitchen (all in one) along with a small bedroom and bath. Romano did a great job converting the space for her. He’s a great person.

When we returned, Lucia was awake and reported that Romano was at work; Rodolfo was out with friends; and Chiara was feeling sick. Ugh! We took some time to get caught up on emails and blogs and spent some time alone in our rooms. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch.

After lunch, Lucia graciously volunteered to be our tour guide on a trip to Vitterbo, the largest city in northern Lazio (the state where Rome and Rignano are located). It’s an awesome medieval town whose origins lie with the Etruscans (who the heck are they). I don’t have a clue, but apparently PJ studied them in Art History in college. Nice to know at least some of that tuition money went for good use.

Anyway, the oldest part of the town today is medieval (check out the pictures), but was built on Etruscan ruins that date back to Christ’s birth. They basically built caves or gallerias (Italian word of the day) in which to live and start a village. More on this later…….

I forgot to mention that before we arrived in town, Lucia drove us past an upscale resort that is built over natural hot springs (acqua caldo - a bonus word of the day). Not much to see unless you were willing to pay to go inside, but it was still interesting. She also pointed out a low lying area of water that was frequented by people who wanted the perceived benefits of the hot spring, but were unable/unwilling to pay the price. I thought that was quite funny, the idea of a bunch of strangers wrangling around in the mud. I digress……..

After we finished in Vitterbo, we returned to the car and headed home (or so we thought). She took us a different route, and I didn’t quite understand because it was already dark. There was really nothing to see, or was there…….

In fact, we found ourselves in a traffic snarl, and she pulled off and parked. I thought it was just traffic as this new road (like in the US) was smaller and brought us through every small town along the way. All of a sudden, we walked around the bend and found ourselves in Christmas paradise.

In this town called Sutri (I think), there is Presepio (a live nativity) like you have never seen in your life. I can only say the pictures don’t remotely come close to capturing the beauty. The candlelight; the vignettes, everything was awe inspiring. The place is another Etruscan settlement carved out of lava. It was discovered during an earlier excavation of a Roman amphitheater that was built on top.

Every vignette was set in a galleria and represented how the Etruscans might have lived culminating to the live nativity at the end. Of course the Italians take their religion very seriously, so the three wise men had not yet shown up. But while we were there, we found shepherds in adoration. Not too shabby. The beauty of this cannot be expressed in words (you understand this idea is impossible for me), but it’s true.

Another 30 minutes, we returned home in time for dinner. Leftovers, but nothing to complain about. The food was great the first time and the second time too. After, we started talking about stuff, and Zio Mario asked if we were fans of Hillary Clinton.

Nice to know she’s as much a joke here as she is at home (Sorry friends, Louie, and Uncle Frank, who are democrats). If it’s any consolation, I like Obama. Does that count? Well, I also like Rudi too. Do they cancel each other out? OK, no politics, only Italy. Tomorrow, it’s off to Vatican City and Rome to enjoy our last day here. Ugh, I’m very sad now. Time to go to bed.

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