Thursday, May 15, 2008

A date with the belle velloce donne rossi

This is just a quick post for our loyal viewers (that's you) before we hit the road from Rome and head to Orvieto. Bev keeps talking of Cathedrals, but I'm thinking of a certain type of very palatable chilled white wine, with the label misting over, maybe at a cafe in front of the Cathedral...

Wednesday (yesterday) was always down as the day we were to go to Vigna di Valle, where I had a date with a group of classy fast Italian ladies in red. This was one of the centrepieces in a magnificent museum of the Italian Air Force, and is one of the reasons were were in Rome.

Italy was one of the few countries to compete in the Schneider Cup races for seaplanes from the 1910s to the thirties, and as one would expect, the Italian entrants were effective, beautiful, classy, original and RED. (The others were Britain, France, and America - Britain won the required three times for a permanent victory, and the Cup is now in the Science Museum in London.)

Three of the racers are on show in the Museum (a forth is on show in town, and that's another story) and this picture (by Bev) shows them looking like they are ready to go again. The Macchi Mc-72 on the far end of the line took the world seaplane speed record at 709kmh (440mph) on 23rd October 1934 - a record for a piston engine seaplane that stands to this day. After taking the ribbon, she never flew again. Well, anything afterwards was going to be anticlimactic, wasn't it?

We had a great time in the museum, and we'd taken the train to a beautiful town called Bracciano on the lake (of the same name) where we were to get a taxi to the museum. We had to wait an hour in town, and a better hour would be hard to spend. It contained proper newsagent's kiosk, a castle, a town square with people on passagata, a good Italian traffic jam (we decided the town was a bit like Windermere, but Italian ~ sort of) amazing medieval streets that were all too much like a Verdi opera set, a museum, two gelati, some strolling, and a number of amazing views. The picture above isn't a set, they just made it like that...

We got back to Rome for the evening where we managed to meet up with one of my aviation writing opposite numbers, Gregory Alegi, who took us to a great restaurant off Via Nazionalle and were we had a most enjoyable Roman meal, much talk of art, aviation, food history and all good things. Only our sudden poleaxing by jetlag and a taxi back to our hotel prevented the evening going much later, and we didn't get any of the Rome by night photos I'd hoped for. But hey, it's the Eternal City right? It'll be here, we'll be back.

More soon... and if you are good, I'll tell you what the Orvieto Classico was like. Travel writing, it's a tough gig.


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