|the picturesque town of Soriano Nel Cimino, our Home Base in Italy|
After a night in Sorrento and a day in Pompeii, we drove to Soriano Nel Cimino, which was our home base in Italy. It was from there we were able to tour the province of Viterbo in the Lazio region of central Italy in two days. On one of the other days, we took the train to Rome and on another drove the rental car to Florence. The picturesque town is built on a hill, overlooked by the highest peak in Monti Cimini.
|the small spiral staircase could fit us!|
At the highest point in Soriano stands the Orsini Castle. You can see the town’s history expanding outward from the castle. Built by Orso Orsini in the 13th century, the castle was the summer residence of Pope Nicholas III, his uncle. Then it became a high-security castle until the 1990s and today, it is managed by the University of Viterbo as a tourist attraction. After visiting prison cells and imagining the past splendor of its courtyard and great room, we found a lovely view of the town and Mount Cimini from the top of the castle. It was accessible through a small circular stone staircase.
|the small town square|
|a delicious Italian meal!|
There are also two squares in town that come alive come late afternoon when people mingle and then fill the good Italian restaurants. We found one where we dined two nights in a row! Then we found another which featured an Etruscan underground! The small town even has three places of worship for its 8,000 residents. One is the small Romanesque church of San Giorgio built in the 11th century; the Church of Sant'Eutizio in the 15th century and the Cathedral of San Nicola di Bari in the 18th century.
|Etruscan underground dwellings|
|"bigger than usual" roadside gasoline station|
One day Suzanne and her family went to Rome while Bill and I stayed behind for a walk about town. We went to the best point to take the iconic picture of the town. An old man who did not speak English took our picture! The walk also gave us a view of lovely Italian homes and gardens, colorful alleys, the unique sidewalk gas station Italy is known for, and flowers about the town that signaled it was still spring. It was so interesting to see the small fruit and vegetable shops, little grocers and bakeries. We even found a small eatery for simple spaghetti. And, of course, there was a place to get gelato.
|the path to our home|
Now let me describe the hotel we stayed in called Palazzo Catalani. We had purchased a Diamond Resorts membership in March of 2014. The company boasts of a network of 300 resorts worldwide. The Palazzo was our first booking of one of those resorts. Palazzo Catalani is a 14th-century establishment of marvelous architectural design and delightful décor blending Renaissance style with Roman elements. It is accessible from two narrow streets by walking up winding cobbled pathways.
Bill and I were housed in an astonishing studio with original murals, large antique furniture, and other period decors. It was conveniently right beside the reception office and the well-appointed bar. Our studio even had a small kitchen where we prepared breakfast in the mornings and some cocktail food for a few nights. Suzanne and her family were in a one bedroom suite one floor above the gorgeous sitting room that looked out at Orsini Castle.
|the Sitting Room|
The resort had a glamorous à la carte restaurant that served delicious Italian specialties and European dishes. We relished our first evening’s dinner there. It was a little cold so we did not get a chance to enjoy the little garden. But Bill got to use the sauna and pool (and laundry). It is worth noting that it was our first experience at amazing customer service from the experienced staff.
|the road to our home|
We loved our room in Palazzo Catalani and the little town of Soriano Nel Cimino. It was just a little far removed from the bigger cities. But, as we did, you can still explore many of them from this base. And if you want the small Italian town feel, then this is the kind of place for you. Soriano is still unspoiled by mass tourism, has incredible beauty and charm and offers a taste of real Italian life.
|a home garden|