After Florence out next stop was Civitavecchia, which means ancient town in Italian. It comes by the name honestly since it is built on the site of a former Etruscan settlement. Many people on the ship bought tours to Rome. They had to endure a train ride of an hour or more to get to Rome, rip through galleries and tourist sights, get back on the train and arrive back at the boat before it set sail. If it was the only chance that we were going to have to see Rome we might have done that but we had plans after to the cruise to spend extra days in Rome.
Instead, we booked an excursion into the Tuscan countryside where we would visit a medieval town, Tuscania, that was once ruled by the Medici family then we would visit an olive farm and taste a variety of Tuscan foods and olive oils. It sounded infinitely more relaxing than scurrying around Rome trying to cram as many sights as you could into one day. We were on the bus after breakfast. Our guide was an Archeologists which was perfect for our excursion. The town that we were going to visit was called Tuscania. As it turned out, our guide was actually born in the town of Tuscania. Her English was quite good, inflected with a pleasant Italian accent. She gave us a running commentary of the area as well as a general history of the area starting with the Etruscans.
Tuscania was a picturesque town with lots of opportunities to take pictures and enjoy the Tuscan countryside.
|A Tuscan ruin|
|The Tuscan countryside|
There are people who still live in the town and there is an international school in the town which is mainly financed through the fees of foreign students who go to the town to learn Italian and Italian, history and culture.
|Lorenzo de' Medici school|
|An ancient vine growing on the front of someone's home|
After our visit to Tuscania we boarded the bus for a short trip to the olive farm, Casale Bonaparte. As it turned out this particular farm has been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte's brother, Lucien Bonaparte. It was a very nice location and the the farm house had been nicely preserved. I would say that it has seen a recent renovation but it still maintained the feel of the period of the late 1700's.
|Lucien Bonaparte's farm house|
There was a little explanation about the farm and how olive were harvested and processed; the first virgin pressing, the second and third pressings. It was all very informative.
|Our guide and our host|
Afterward we were invited to sit down at long tables and eat. there was bread with meat and cheese and salads with many types of olive oil to try. there was also wine and beer to drink. It was a tasty lunch in pleasant relaxing surroundings.
|Pavilion where we had lunch|
In a way it was the opposite of the hectic day that we had spent in Florence the day before. After eating, my wife and I strolled around the grounds taking pictures and generally soaking in the ambiance of the Tuscan countryside.
|Road from the farm to the main road|
|A field of poppies with olive trees in the background|
We were reluctant to get back on the bus and head back to Civitavecchia. It was only mid afternoon when we returned to the boat. After depositing the oil that we bought in our stateroom we took the shuttle bus to Cittavechia which was only a five minute bus ride. We decided that we would just walk around the city without any real plan. as we strolled up the Corso Centrocelle we came upon a small maritime museum that was free to enter so we took the tour. I was a very small museum with some statuary that dated back to the Roman and Etruscan period as well as pottery shards. It also showed the ramparts of the old city as it was in the pre-Christian era. It was all very interesting. We continued our stroll up the street until we came to a square that had a small shrine to the Virgin Mary. At the point we decided that we would try a few side streets as we made our way back to the boat. There was no danger of getting lost because the boat was in plain sight most of the time.
Eventually, we found a small gelateria that served the locals. Although it was the middle of the afternoon the place was very busy. We saw a few tourists from the boat but most of the people were locals. I had a wonderful Baci flavored gelato and my wife had her favorite flavor in the world; Spumoni. We had just about finished our gelato when we saw a little leather shop near the pier. It was very tiny but it was packed with leather goods. After looking through their goods my wife bought herself a nice leather purse that could be quickly transformed int a back pack or a regular purse. It was very versatile. I bought two nice leather belts, one brown and one black. With purchases in hand we made our way back to our cruise ship. We had a very nice day in Civitavecchia.