In: 2008, Cheryl Alexander's Newsletters, Spring

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Italy in April!!!

April is such a lovely time in Italy. It is a bit unpredictable weatherwise but as long as one brings clothing that can be layered or an umbrella then it is not a problem. Springtime may manifest itself with showers or just budding beauty. But the verdant freshness is evident everywhere one looks. Little buds are popping out of the grape vines fig trees as winter is pushed aside to reveal the next lush season.

Our tour this trip was very relaxed and slow, just the way I like it. First, we stayed outside of Rome in Castel Sant’ Elia at Villa Adrianna run by an Italian man and his Australian wife. Our ensuite rooms at Zia Cathy’s as it is also called, were enormous, clean and had incredible views of the countryside. The grounds were expansive and there were little sitting vignettes in different areas for spending some quiet time. Breakfast was served on the large portico that faced into farmlands to the south. An incredible repast of pastries, fruit, eggs, etc.

There are several good reasons for staying in that area: Villa Lante is easily accessible as is Civita Castellana, only a short drive away. Villa Lante was serene and quiet when we got there in mid morning. There were just a few other visitors besides our small group. The gardens there are as they were hundreds of years before when the palazzo was first built. It is pristine and manicured to perfection. A wonderful diversion especially if you are a fan of garden settings. Very few flowers but lush evergreens pruned and sculpted into many images.

Civita Castellana is very special in that it is one of those little villages that has a long history in ancient times and has left hidden traces of those times. The town is no longer on a main thoroughfare so has fallen into some disrepair and ruin, except, of course, for the main church. It has beautiful, quite unique, mosaics from a bygone era that recall Turkish influence. There is also a fascinating castle (thus the name) from medieval times that serves as a small museum. It too, is rarely visited and the town has not the resources to display the thousands of relics stored in its unopened rooms.

We were very fortunate to have a guide who took us to a few places that no one visits. A wonderful, secret archeology dig just outside of town that was a place the Romans forced a small culture to migrate to. This was probably the last place that this culture survived and then disappeared forever. We saw where the city center was built, the forum, market place, etc. as well as the vestiges of its burial grounds. We were literally the only visitors there.

After our three days in this area we drove up to my favorite spot in Northern Lazio to stay at The Mottura’s small, elegant hotel in Civitella d’ Agliano. I’ve mentioned this boutique organic winery and hotel before as I love staying there. The hospitality, food and wine are unsurpassed, in my estimation, so I never miss an opportunity to bring my guests to experience it, too.

We visited many of the places I love to share with guests in this area, so I won’t be redundant. I have found a few new gardens and secret spots that I will elaborate on in the next newsletter. Look for that to appear the end of October, after my Fall trip. Also, look for upcoming tour information for 2009 as there will be some new and different things offered.

Ciao, tutti,