La Bottega del Tortellino – artisan pasta shop in Orvieto

I’m a big fan of making my own bread and pasta and think it’s worthwhile for everyone to learn – it’s easy, cheap, and for most people, what you can make at home is much better than anything you can buy from a store.

However, it’s another story when you live a 2 minute walk from a fresh pasta shop like La Bottega del Tortellino.

For years we’ve dutifully bought their ricotta and spinach ravioli at least once a week.  In a pinch, we’ll get a few portions of tortellini to serve in broth, or the potato and taleggio cheese ravioli which we’ll toss with butter and sage.  Yes, this is what we get to eat when we’re too lazy to cook – fresh pasta, usually made no more than a day ago.

The owners have a 10 year old daughter and I often see them at the elementary school.  Having chatted with them a few times, I understood that they had an unlikely story – having decided to change careers and become professional pasta makers.

The following video is about competing with big business, a changing food culture in Italy, and of course, pasta!

La Bottega del Tortellino – artisan pasta shop in Orvieto from Cross-Pollinate Travel on Vimeo.

Lisbon Cruisers: From the Port to the City in Minutes

Sunny Lisbon’s port of entry is situated along the Rio Tejo River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. One of the hottest travel destinations in the world, Lisbon welcomes approximately 18 million visitors a year arriving by air, rail, and sea.

The modern Port of Lisbon isn’t just for transportation and shipping, it’s also a cultural and commercial hub with a wide-array of restaurants, bars and cafes. To date, the port serves fifteen cruise lines arriving at one of three terminals (Alcântara, Santa Apolonia, and Jardim do Tobaco Quay). From any one of these piers, it’s an easy jaunt to Lisbon’s city center—between 1 km and 4 km, depending on where your ship docks.

Get printable map here

If you cometh by sea, here’s how to easily “geteth” to town…

There are six (6) options to reach the historic center from the port: By foot, bus, tram, metro, train, or taxi.

From Alcântara and Rocha Conde de Óbidos:

Buses (Nos. 28, 714 & 732) and trams (Nos. 15 & 18) depart along the main road just north of the docks. Alternatively, you can take the train at Alcântara-Mar station (Cascais/Cais do Sodré line). *Note: A one-day (24hr) ticket can be purchased; valid on buses, trams, funiculars, and metro.

From Santa Apolónia:

It’s a short walk to the old town center or, if you don’t feel up for a stroll, take the metro from Santa Apolónia (Blue Line) station, getting off at the Biaxa-Chiado stop.

Taxi ranks are located at each terminal, as well.

Lisbon in a day: From ship-to-shore-to-city!

Port of Lisbon, Gare Marítima de Alcântara 1350-355 Lisbon, Portugal; geral@portodelisboa.pt; Tel: (+35) 1 21 361 10 00

 

 

 

Recreating “Orvietan” – a 400 year old medicinal potion

In the center of Orvieto, on the Via del Duomo – a main road that runs from the 14th century cathedral to the town’s medieval clock tower is a small shop called “L’Orvietan”.  The shop’s owner, Lamberto Bernardini, took the name from Girolamo Ferranti, who in 1603 obtained the license from the city of Orvieto to sell a medicinal potion of his own invention.  As a travelling salesman, Girolamo toured Europe with his potion, becoming known as the “Orvietan” (the guy from Orvieto), a name that later was used to refer to his medicinal.

Later, in 1647, Ferranti passed the formula down to Cristoforo Contugi, who obtained the royal privilege and exclusive rights to sell it, from King Louis IV.

For 200 years, “Orvietan” was all the rage as a protection against poison and love sickness, being cited in many books and pharmacopeia.  References to it appear in works of Walter Scott Kenilworth, Molière, Voltaire, and Balzac.

Lamberto, an antique book collector as well as shop owner, came across a copy of Niccolo Lemery’s Farmacopea, published in 1697, containing a few recipes for the potion, and with the help of a few pharmacists and herbalists, recreated the potion is the form of a digestive liqueur which can be enjoyed as an aperitif, an after dinner drink, or in a tea or coffee.

Here’s a quick video of Lamberto and the story of Orvietan:

L’Orvietan – recreating a famous, 400 year old medicinal potion from Cross-Pollinate Travel on Vimeo.

 

If passing through, or staying in, Orvieto, you can visit Lamberto’s shop, L’Orvietan, on the Via del Duomo, or ask for the digestive in restaurants around town.

Winter in Rome blogger weekend

It’s easy to conjure an image of Paris, New York, or London in the winter.  But what about Rome?  For most people, it’s a city famous for its piazzas, public fountains and other statues that adorn the city; outdoor monuments like the Pantheon and the Colosseum.  It’s a place to have a long, leisurely dinner al fresco and a coffee at a sidewalk cafe.  It’s true – the summertime in Rome is dreamy, and it’s a living, outdoor museum.  In the summer, the days are long, light is gorgeous, and the sky is always clear and blue.  However, it can also be hot, crowded, and expensive in the summer.

Visiting Rome in the winter is like visiting an entirely different city.  There are a number of relatively unknown advantages, such as cheaper stays, shorter (or no) lines, and some activities and experiences that just aren’t available in other seasons.  And it’s still just as beautiful – we might get some dark, rainy days, but more often than not, the weather is fairly mild and the skies are still clear and blue and the city is just as magical as it is in the summer.

For the last 3 years, to take advantage of empty rooms in our hostel, The Beehive, and to make up for the fact that not many people really have an image in their heads of Rome in the winter, we invite around 10 bloggers and social media experts to come and stay and experience #winterinrome. We put together a weekend of activities, tours, walks, and meals – some that we do ourselves and others from friends and colleagues doing interesting things.  The goal is for these bloggers and social media influencers to spread the word (and images) of what Rome is like in the winter – to help promote our city in the off-season.

Our weekend began with an eat-with-locals dinner experience from BonAppetour, a start-up that makes it possible for you, as a visitor, to score a meal at the home of a local.  I’ve written about a previous experience with them and what they do here.

On Friday we started the day with a great food tour in Trastevere, by Eating Italy Food Tours.  Our guide, Domenico, who also runs Tram Tracks, (an unforgettable, live music/dinner alternate reality experience aboard an old tram), took us around the neighbourhood, tasting all kinds of goodies, from supplì, to the best porchetta and pizza bianca ever, to creme brûlée and vin santo at a restaurant whose wine cellar is 160 years older than the Colosseum!

We then did an e-bike tour around the Roman Forum, Imperial Forum and Colosseum with The Roman Guy, who then took everyone out to find the best cocktails in Rome.

Saturday was vespa day with Scooteroma, visiting street art and covering lots of ground.

Lunch was made back at the Beehive by Viola (my 10 year old sous-chef) and I, and then the group headed back out with Personalised Italy to visit San Giovanni and San Clemente.

That night we had our monthly Storytellers night back at the Beehive, with tales of getting “busted”, and then were treated to a Tuscan dinner, prepared by Pamela Sheldon Johns of Poggio Etrusco.


On Sunday we were taken by Context Travel to the Palazzo Massimo, Rome’s best underrated/unknown museum and saw frescoes and mosaics that date back to the 2nd century BC – we’re talking entire rooms of villas preserved in ways that blow Pompeii out of the water.  This museum deserves an entire post not just for the collection inside, but because it’s an amazing example of how certain sites never make the “bucket list” even though they have some of the most important and insightful works inside.

Lunch was hosted at the Gatsby Cafe at Piazza Vittorio, a laid back, hip, vintage cafe on three levels with food provided by other locals such as Panella, Radici Pizzicheria and Gelateria Fassi – all gems in an area that doesn’t get the acclaim it deserves.

For more information, pics or just to follow along with the rest of group, here’s a list of the bloggers and sponsors that participated:

 

Denya Pandolfi  - Grazie a Te  Facebook & Instagram:  @grazieateblog  Twitter: @denyapandolfi

 

Diana Simon  - Browsing Italy & Browsing Rome:  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter:  @browsingitaly @browsingrome

 

Elyssa Bernard - Romewise  Facebook, IG, Twitter:  @romewise

 

Estrella Gomez  - La Casa Bloga  Instagram: @lacasabloga Twitter:  @lacasabloga

 

Jared Chuba - What If We  Facebook: @whatifweblog  Instagram: @what.if.we Twitter:  @whatifweblog

 

Katie Dawes - The Hostel Girl  Facebook:  @thehostelgirl  Instagram & Twitter:  @the_hostelgirl

 

Natalie Kennedy - An American in Rome  Facebook & Instagram:  @anamericaninrome  Twitter: @natalierae

 

Orna O’Reilly - Travelling Italy  Facebook: @orna.oreilly Twitter: @ornaOR

 

Robyn Woodman - Curated Travel  Facebook:  @woodmanrobyn  Instagram & Twitter: @robynwoodman

 

Saskia Balmaekers & Carola Willemsen - Ciao Tutti  Facebook, Instagram & Twitter:  @blogciaotutti

 

Tom Weber -  The Palladian Traveler  Facebook: @ThePalladianTraveler  Twitter: @tompalladioink

 

Trish McNeill - Go, See, Write - Facebook, Twitter: @goseewrite Instagram: @michaelshodson

 

Viola (our 10 year old sous-chef and helper) took many of these shots.  She can be found on Instagram @ristoviola

 

Scooteroma
Instagram & Twitter:  @scooteromatours

 

Personalized Italy
Instagram & Twitter: @personalitaly

 

Context Travel
Instagram & Twitter:  @contexttravel

 

The Roman Guy
Instagram & Twitter:  @theromanguy

 

Eating Italy Food Tours
Facebook:  @eatingeuropefoodtours
Instagram & Twitter:  @eatingeurope

 

BonAppetour
Facebook:  @BonAppetour
Instagram: @bonappetourofficial
Twitter: @bonappetour

 

Gatsby Cafe
Facebook & Instagram @gatsbycafe

 

Pamela Sheldon Johns
Facebook:  @poggioeetrusco @italian-food-artisans
Instagram:  pamela_sheldon_johns
Twitter: @PamelaInTuscany

How to get to/from Rome and the cruise port at Civitavecchia

Civitavecchia (Port of Rome)

 

Civitavecchia Port (commonly referred to as the Port of Rome) is located approximately 70 km north west of Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Besides serving cruise ship lines, there are also ferries embarking to Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Tunis and Barcelona.

The pedestrian-friendly town sits along a seafront promenade with a lot of nice bars, restaurants and open-air cafes to enjoy. There’s even a small shopping center. If you have a couple of hours to kill, it’s not a bad place to hang out, however, if the major part of a day is open to you, we recommend going into Rome.

ORIENT YOURSELF

Have a look at this aerial map of the port to get your bearings:

Aerial map of Civitavecchia

 

PLAN YOUR TIMELINE

The most economical way to get from the piers to the center of Rome is by train. Figure on a one-way trip costing €5 to 16€ (one-way), and taking about 45 minutes (Intercity trains) to 1.5 hours (Regional trains) between Civitavecchia Station and Rome’s main railway station, Roma Termini. From there, it’s easy to catch the Metro (subway) or buses to reach the city’s main tourist sites. Trains between the two stations run every hour (sometimes two per hour, depending on the time of day). Click here to search for train times and fares.

Important! Don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to get from your ship’s quay to Civitavecchia Station! 

Here’s a breakdown of the drill:

By Rail:

  • Take the free shuttle from your ship’s pier to the cruise terminal.
  • From there, buy a ticket for the Argo bus (departures every 20 minutes) at any bar or newsstand. It’s only a 10-minute ride.

OR

  • By foot. From the shuttle stop outside the entrance of Varco Fortezza, walk 650 meters (9 minutes) to the train station. (See Google Map directions below).

 

 

Private Train Service (cruise customers only)

  • For cruise travelers there’s limited, direct private train service to the Vatican Station (St. Peter Square) from the Port, but it’s seasonal and not available every day. Ask your cruise line for details or click here for more information.

*Note: Local cabs at the port are not permitted to transfer people to and from the Civitavecchia train station.

A TICKET TO RIDE

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve decided to go to Rome by train from the port of Civitavecchia, we suggest you purchase the BIRG Ticket (5 zones). It’s a great value because:

  • it allows unlimited trips on all public transport to and from the port, and all over the city of Rome
  • it’s good from the time of validation until midnight.
  • the BIRG can be purchased right at the station.

 

YOU DO HAVE OPTIONS

While the train is the most convenient and cost-effective way to travel into Rome, if you have money to burn you can choose to:

  • take a taxicab from your ship.

Keep in mind that car and taxi fares start from €130 and upwards (one-way). In addition, they can be subject to traffic congestion and road construction delays.

Whichever way you choose to get there, the Eternal City awaits.

Civitavecchia Port, Prato del Turco, 00053 Civitavecchia, tel: +39 0766.191.6106