Italy #6

We were up bright and early on Tuesday for our day trip to Rafael's birthplace, Urbino, a medieval city that still retains its original walls and ducal palace. But first we have to get there. Silvia's dad, Paolo, would take the lead car and serve as navigator...and pace car! Keven's godfather Roy drove the second car, and Keven and I headed up the rear in the Golf. He was in heaven. The appeal of renting a car in Italy had less to do with freedom and mobility, and more to do with Keven wanting to drive on those insane, twisty-turny roads.

I think Paulo was being generous to us. There were many times he could've overtaken the cars in front of him, but he refrained in deference to his timid English followers. But he was mighty fast. The A14 is a toll road that zips along the Adriatic, and where speed limits are not even a suggestion, let alone a hard and fast rule. I found it much easier to enjoy the scenery, while Keven took his duties very seriously. I love this picture.

About 20 minutes outside of Urbino, Paolo stopped his car at a strip mall so we could get a coffee. This seemed to be a very Italian way of thinking: We're almost there, so we might as well stop and refresh ourselves. Most of the English seemed little confused. Their thinking was just the opposite: We're almost there, so why are we stopping?

In the café, Keven's dad and godfather of tried to pay for the drinks and actually reached the man behind the counter with their Euros first. Paolo, however, talk with the men and told them not to accept his guests' money, then promptly picked up the bill. This became like a going home edition throughout the day, seeing who would actually pay for things. For the moment, Keven and I were content to stay out of it.

Urbino was lovely. It's very hilly and quaint, completely covered in cobblestones. everywhere you looked, people were walking--cars had a hard time of it. It was very hot that day, as with most of the days we were there, but not in a way that I felt terribly uncomfortable. Maybe less humidity? We visited the Rafeal Museum in the ducal palace, where Roy scored a coup by paying for the tickets, and generally marveled over the lack of security on some of these very old, priceless works of art. Some of them weren't even alarmed.

At one point, Paolo talked to one of the docents and got them to open the restricted balcony so we could enjoy the view. See that top white balcony on this picture? That's where we were. Very cool.

Afterward, we bought gelato and waited for Paolo to get his car out of the impound (he'd parked it illegally). By then, the mini museum in the house where Rafael had been born was open. Once again Paolo stepped up with the cash for the entrance fee. The residence was nice, and I enjoyed seeing how houses from that era were constructed, but many of the paintings were replicas, not as well cared for, or by lesser artists. We had already seen the best of the best at the palace.

Before returning to Cerreto, we stopped for some light refreshments. I took everyone's order and pay the man behind the counter. When we were finished, Paolo went back in to pay--the custom there was to pay afterward. But ha! I'd already done it! Score one for me. Insert laughter.

We changed for dinner and returned to Salomone. Keven and I had been there on Sunday night, in the dark, so the views and landscaping were quite spectacular at sunset. Angelo, our host, spoke no English, but his cook and her 11-year-old daughter, Denise, make communication possible. Angelo was amazingly charming and kept offering everyone samples of his best wine. We headed back to Casa Rastia stuffed full of good eats, wine, and with tired legs.

Next up: a trip to the seaside.

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