Thursday, December 23, 2010

Touring with Stefano Enroute to the Ship (Oct. 27, 2010)

At last it was time to head to the ship! Nancy had arranged for a van to pick us up along with all our luggage. We stopped to pick up Kersti and Rich, another couple that we have been getting to know on Cruise Critic. Our driver was Stefano and he first took us to a little town called Cerveteri, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once again there were a lot of cats around. This one was particularly friendly and sat still for a photoshoot.

These mounds are the reason that it is the World Heritage Site. There are over 1000 tombs, often in these mound shapes, many from the 6th century BC. The mounds would contain a reconstruction of the house of the deceased, complete with a corridor, a central hall and several rooms. They believed in the afterlife and were buried with many of their prized possessions, which made for a lot of looting.

Beautiful tree-lined driveway with the umbrella pine trees...

Entering the small town of Cerveteri, which was an important commercial centre in the Mediterranean from the 7th to 5th centuries BC. 

Here we are with Nancy and Joe in front of the fountain.

We walked up these steps to the courtyard. Look at the beautiful violet bush.

The town square or piazza…

We walked around for a bit and then got back in the van for our next stop. The countryside was beautiful . You can see the grape vines in the foreground.

More grape vines and lots of olive trees. They were harvesting the olives during this time.

We arrived at Ceri, a fortified town that was built on the top of a hill, giving it a good defensive position. The villagers would farm the fields and then return to the safety of the town at night.

Here is the tiny road going up to the town of 50 people. The road is only one lane, so there is a light at the bottom to control the traffic. It is so narrow that Stefano had to fold the side mirrors in so that we could get through some parts of the road.

The big town sign!

Stefano doing what he does best...talking on the phone!

It's an adorable, sleepy little town. Stefano knew everyone there, which isn’t surprising. He told us that he had brought some other people there on the way to the port once. The man proposed to his girlfriend there and they came back three months later to be married.

The beautiful view from the top. Look at the fields in the distance...they look like a checkerboard.

The road below.

Not sure I could live in the town, but the view was spectacular.

Jim outside the Romanesque Church of the Madonna di Ceri.

In 1980 during a restoration of the church, frescoes from around the 12th century were discovered on one of the walls. The scenes represented drawings from the Old Testament.

People use this room to pray and when their prayers are granted, they purchase a silver heart in appreciation.

Stefano took us to the Trattoria La Rocca for lunch. Heaven forbid we miss a meal! We have decided this is all part of doing research about the area!

There weren't too many people in the restaurant. Stefano translated for us as the owners did not speak English. All the pasta was homemade and cooked as you ordered it. Yum!

Kersti and Rich in the foreground and Nancy and Joe. We ended up having the best, smoothest red wine we have ever had. Maybe it was the ambiance? The bottles didn’t have any labels as it was homemade. It was sooo good.

Harvesting the olives…

Yay! Civitavecchia is the port where we are boarding the Ocean Princess.

You can see the Ocean Princess sneaking her bow out to greet us!

We got on board in no time and noticed how many ships were also in port.

Having a cracker (good grief, can I possibly be hungry?) and getting caught up on the Princess Patter, all the news that’s fit to print onboard!

We are looking forward to our next 56 days as we cruise to Cape Town, South Africa and then on to Singapore…

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