Day 19 – Tuscania and a Day of Rest (with incredible views)

view from miralago
view from miralago

After exhausting ourselves in Rome and getting home very late we slept in on Sunday and decided to have a relaxing local day by Lake Bolsena.  We called ahead to make a reservation at Da Paolino al Miralago restaurant in Montefiascone a city perched high above the lake on verdant cliffs.  We have learned our lesson about not calling ahead in Italy.

We arrived at the restaurant, which from the road looks like a little shack at the edge of the street.  The kitchen is across the road with the other half of the restaurant.  Then we entered the small structure and saw before us an enormous panorama of Lake Bolsena and the neighboring hilltop towns and gardens.  They seated us right by the window and we watched the platters of food being served to the Italian families seated all around us.  They gave us menus that had Italian printed on one side and unfortunately English printed on the other.  I’m wary of any restaurant that has an English translation.  Nothing that was being eaten at any of the tables all around us was on that menu – nor on the Italian side either.

When the waitress arrived to take our orders we basically had to point at the other tables and say we want that!  She then laughed and pulled out her sheet of all of the specials and then we could see the real food – homemade spaghetti with lobster, marinated beans, grilled seafood salad, fried cod fillets and so on.  That was what we were after, and that is what we ordered.  There are so many differences between eating out in Italy and eating out in New York City.  There is only one seating and you are expected to come and stay and eat and relax and make yourself comfortable until the kitchen closes.  No one will bring you check.  No one will ask you if you’re done with your meal, only if you are done eating that course and ready for the next one, or for some coffee, or digestif or tozzetti

It’s actually hard to get used to this leisurely eating.  My husband practically jumps out of his seat when he’s done.  As much as he’d like to sit back and relax at the table his instinct is to pay, get up and get out.  But, this time with Lake Bolsena spread out before us he was able to at least chill long enough to get a coffee and just sit post meal and enjoy where we were.  That brings up another difference between eating out here and at home.  You will not be served coffee with your meal, NEVER.  My poor husband who needed his caffeine fix was scolded by the waitress when he asked for coffee with the meal.  She was horrified and explained with much sign language that AFTER the meal he could have a café, but before or during NO WAY.  He was shamed.

After our wonderful meal and appropriate coffee intake, we headed to the lake to swim and hang out.  We had never been there on a Sunday and it was the first time we ever saw it crowded.  Even Saturdays are fairly empty.  But, Sunday is family day and it was packed, yet still beautiful, calm, fun and fully shaded by those amazingly huge canopied trees.  The girls sort of made some Italian friends though the language barrier made it tough.  But building sand castles seemed to bridge the misunderstandings.

After a couple hours of swimming and gelato we headed home for dinner and to prepare for another marathon day in Rome, this time at the Vatican….

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