The Wonders of Rome Part 3

Rome is endowed with a wonderful water system. In fact there are so many water outlets throughout the city that pour forth fresh cool water that it is a wonder any bottled water is sold at all. It started with Acqua Vergine. Acqua Vergine is one of several acqeducts which serve the city of Rome with pure drinking water. The name derives from its predecessor Acqua Virgo which was constructed in 19 BC.

In an effort to restore fresh water to Rome during the Renaissance, Pope Nicholas V, in 1453 renovated the main channels of the acqua virgo and added numerous secondary conduits.

Beginning as rainwater falling in the Alban Hills to the East of Rome, then percolating through miles of volcanic tuff, the water springs forth in marshland approximately 8 miles east of Rome.

From there the water is carried by two separate acqeducts.

One travels underground via Villa Ada, Villa Borghese, Villa Medici, Piazza Di Spagna and the Trevi fountain.

This is known as the Acqua Vergine Antica.

The second, Acqua Vergine Nuova branches into two channels.

One passes just behind Piazza di Spagna into Piazza del Popolo.

Here is Jacqueline refreshing her bottle for drinking this pure vergine water.

The other pases around Borghese gardens toward Piazzale Flaminio into Piazza del Popolo.

This is at the Piazza di Spagna

Today, as in days of old, the acqua vergine is regarded as furnishing the purest drinking water in Rome.

It is reputed for its restorative qualities.

Pure drinking water

Many people to this day can be seen filling water bottles at this water source

Near the Vatican

Near the Spanish Steps

Another tourist filling up

Ciao e baci a tutti

Carolyna e Alan



San Giovanna d’Asso – Truffle capital of Tuscany

San Giovanni d’Asso is a town 30 minutes north east of Montalcino in the area known as the Crete Senesi.

The hamlet is overlooked by large Castle, now home to a large white truffle museum, and there is a festival celebrating the white truffle every year. Not to be missed. The season for the white truffle peaks in November.

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The natural conditions of this area and lack of pollution produce truffles of the highest quality. But though there are many in the surrounding countryside, they are not easy to find and are often buried a foot under ground. A kilo of this “hidden gold” can fetch up to 3000 Euros in the international marketplace and dogs are trained for months on end to find, but not destroy, these hidden treasures. As a friendly local told us when “Sometimes we get totally exhausted looking for them. But we never get tired of eating them”. It seems almost everyone in San Giovanni is a truffle hunter and skills are passed on with each generation. It such a part of life here that it even boasts Italy’s first truffle museum, housed in the 13th century castle, no less. Where to stay if you want to witness or even partake in this activity? Firstly, the truffle hunting season lasts eleven months, from June to April. The black truffle appears on menus in early June. The valued white truffle – also known as the “white diamond of Italy” – grows from September to December.

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The best restaurant in town. Some amazing truffle dishes.

The Locanda’s restaurant does more than justice to San Giovanni d’Asso’s culinary reputation. Not only is it located in the noblest area of the building – the medieval Olive Press Room where many original features are still in a perfect state of preservation – but a meal combining those truffles with pecorino cheese, prosciutto, Montalcino honey and saffron is just mouth watering. As we said at the beginning, there may be few undiscovered secrets in Tuscany left, but this, in our opinion, is one of them.

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The truffle museum

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Sant’Angelo in Colle

Sant’Angelo in Colle is a hilltop town approximately 10 kilometres south west of Montalcino. Whilst Montalcino sits proudly in the zone at 564 metres Sant’Angelo in Colle is high at 400 metres and typical of the many small southern Tuscan hilltop villages.

It also has two very good restaurants. One of our favourite lunch spots on a sunny Tuscan day is Trattoria il Leccio in the town.

Here are a few pics from our recent visit.

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Cythera, Kythera or Kithira – Greece – In the Agean sea

Our first visit to Kithira to visit a friend proved well worthwhile and rewarding.

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Kithira is an island to the south of the mainland and is about 250 square kilometres with only 4,000 inhabitants.

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It has a long history with inhabitation traced back to 4000 years BC. Here is a view of Kapsali from the castle in Chora

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Inside a beautiful Greek Church in the island’s capital Chora.

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The priest from Avlemonas preparing to make candles in the mountain monastery overlooking the town

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One of the many swimming spots. This one is in Avlemanos where Helen of Troy reputedly bathed

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Overlooking one of the many small fishing ports on the island

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The town of Chora. April was not tourist season so we had the many small towns to ourselves.

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From Chora overlooking a church and resting place

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An example of one of the beautifully restored buildings on the island. Note the ancient sundial over the door.

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This roof is on an old church

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A lovely valley on this rugged volcanic rocky island

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On the Agean, the island is blessed with clear pristine waters

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And also beautiful sunsets