Monday 17 December 2012

SABINA TRAVELOGUE PART 10 - March 29 - Rent-A-Car Woes

We woke up to find this amazing picture on Facebook posted by our new friend Giorgio Clementi. It is a picture of Richard that Giorgio took during our tour of Catino and Poggio Catino, and it was of course such a wonderful treat to see this picture included in Giorgio's album Sabina In Bianco E Nero on Facebook.  

What Giorgio wrote beside the photo is this: Richard Rooney alla ricerca della energia. (Translation: Richard in the search of the energy).  

Explanation: Some years back I studied an ancient form of Chinese energy meditation called Qi Gong 氣功, , a precursor to Tai Chi 太極. A bit later, both Richard and I took some courses in meditation and healing (similar to Reiki) so both of us have a sensitivity to energy. At the precise moment when Giorgio took the picture of Richard climbing the stairs through the archway, Richard became aware of a flow of energy there and extended his hands to explore it further. Giorgio's timing was brilliant... 

My photo of Richard, taken a few seconds before that moment using a cheaper camera, is much less impressive. 

So today we had to return our rent-a-car to Rome. We had a bit of an adventure. Usually this is a 70 to 90 minute drive... (90 if you are Canadian 70 if you are Italian). Everything was going perfectly until we were about fifteen minutes from our destination when webegan to notice a very bad smell. Now I have some people use the expression "sporca Roma" (Dirty Rome) but the smell was not from outside the car, but from something very wrong with the engine. Apparently, the flashing light that we had worried about when we picked up the car, despite everything we had been told by the rent-a-car agency, really meant something... 

A motorist driving beside us honked his horn and rolled down his window and pointed out the smoke coming from our engine. 

Mamma mia! 

A car breaking down on a busy Italian highway is a tourist's worst nightmare. But we took it in stride. We had our cell phones and the emergency number or the rental agency. Long story short, we called the rental car emergency number and waited about 40 minutes and were eventually rescued by a gentleman with a tow truck...

...who dropped us off in Roma where we sorted things out with the rental agency who took $100 off our bill. No big deal.

The only thing that was a pain is that our delayed arrival in Rome got us there after lunch time when most of the restaurants were closed. 

Our original plan was to go to the area near the Colosseo and to look for the little trattoria called Il Bocconcino on Via Ostillia where we ate our first lunch in Rome three years ago. It was the first time I had ever experienced tonnarelli con cacio e pepe, the quintissential Roman pasta dish. Cacio e pepe, is simplicity itself, but so delicious. It is simply tonnarelli or spaghetti cooked al dente tossed in a mix of grated pecorino Romano cheese and fresh cracked pepper with some cooking liquid. sounds simple but it requires a deft hand to get the sauce right... 

Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed... We eventually found a little pizza-by-the-slice place. Don't imagine the crappy little outlets we have in Canada, but a shop that offers all sorts of delicacies including braised chicory stuffed pizza, lasagne, deep fried stuffed rice balls, etc. 

Pizze from the Eating Italy Food Tours Rome's Facebook page. Check them out!
It wasn't the relaxed, sit down meal we were hoping for, but for €8 for the both of us, including sparkling bottled water, we were very happy.

But it was hot and noisy in the big city and we wanted to get back to our beloved Sabina as soon as possible, so we walked to Termini Station where we bought our BIRG passes, took the very crowded metropolitana (I was worried Richard was not going to get on after me so I turned around and pulled him in by his shirt) got off at Piramide Station...

2000 year-old pyramid of Cestius with the Porta Ostiensis (St. Paul Gate) in the background - Courtesy of Wikipedia

...walked through a crowded market to Ostiense Station (refurbished in 1938 for Adolf Hitler's visit to Rome) and got the train to Poggio Mirteto Scalo. We had to stand for a bit, but eventually we got seats.

When we got off the train and joined the crowds heading off to the different local buses that would them off to their various hilltop homes, it was like we were home too. The bus trip home to Casperia via Cantalupo was a joy. We greeted each landmark, each farm...

Sabine farmhouse courtesy of Giorgio Clementi
...each village, each ruin, even the wiley old nonne who were out finding all the wild asparagus instead of Richard, like they were long lost friends.

On the way up the hill, we bumped into Stefano, the owner of Friend's bar and talked to him about arrangements for the arrival of our friend's Clelia and Paola on Saturday...

Friends Caffe courtesy of Stefano Aperio Bella
We also touched base with him about our plan to go cave exploring in a couple of Wednesdays. Stefano is an accomplished speliologist, and as we mentioned earlier, he hopes to invite tourists visiting the Sabina to try cave exploring... We are to be his first guinea pigs...

Photo courtesy of Stefano Aperio Bella
We then trotted up the hill to Il Sogno where I prepared an antipasti plate and some wine to wash away the day...

Later we headed out to the pizzeria outside the back gate of Casperia and had some of the best pizza we have ever had. 

The place is called L'Asprese and it is well worth a visit. I had four cheese cream sauce with spicy salami and TRUFFLE, while Richard had funghi con salsicce. 

The thinnest, crispiest, most delicious pizza... A nice way to end an evenful day!


  1. A car problem in the middle of your adventure is such a hassle! Just be thankful that no one got hurt and it was only a minor car issue. It looks like you enjoyed your long trips, causing your car to overheat and give up. Next time, be sure to check the car that you will rent, so that you’ll be assured of a fun and satisfying trip.

    -Rob Brummitt

  2. Hai mai visitato Montasola? Dista solamente 5 km da casperia è magnifica! Tra qualche mese aprirà un nuovo centro socio-culturale in un parco bellissimo nel pieno della macchia mediterranea con anfiteatro terrazza belvedere chiesa bar parco....assolutamente da vedere! Lo trovi su fb come agorà suite village! Ciao e complimenti! Gabry

    1. Ciao Gabriele. Nel 2009 abbiamo visitato Montasola. E' veramente un bello borgo. Da allora non abbiamo visitato Montasola. Saremo nella Sabina in Marzo per un mese e forse ancora in settembre di piu'. I hope we can take a visit to Montasola and see how things have changed. Peccato che il ristorante Quello Che C'e' C'e' non e' ancora li'.