A Travellerspoint blog

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It is not just the things you see but the people you meet!

We set off for the Pompeii ruins. We were a bit concerned about leaving all of our valuables in the car at the car park so we arranged to leave the car at the hotel and grab a cab to the ruins. This is how we met Angelo. As we drove to the ruins he gave us a complete rundown of where to go and what to do. He suggested (very strongly) that the only place to have lunch was at his friends Raphael's restaurant and he would pick us up from there when we were finished. He refused to take any money for the fare and just insisted we would pay this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing that we would have to go to lunch at Raphael's. :)
Anyway we looked through the ruins, choosing to use an audio guide and self pace our visit. The site is massive and would take many days to see everything. Some is really well preserved but much of the more important pieces are in the museum in Naples, which is a bit disappointing sometimes. There were several villas that were very beautiful, the steam baths, the lupinare or brothel. Many of the frescos were quite clear and the mosaic floors just stunning.

The brothel had the most amazing frescos above the door of each bedroom showing possible delights that could be encountered. Kind of like a visual menu to pick your pleasure. There was also the bakery, the hot food takeaway shop and the amphitheatres which were all great.
Dylan demonstrating the baker at work

the brothel menu

the amphitheatre, marble seats at the front for the most important citizens and senators
Lots of walking over uneven roman roads again. We were very tired and hungry and wanted to get lunch and head to Amalfi so called it a day. Headed to the restaurant only to be greeted by Raphael who was waiting out the front for us like we were long lost friends. Had a delicious but quite expensive lunch, signed his visitors book, drank the limoncello aperitif and there was Angelo ready to drive us back.
my delicious seafood lunch
Angelo and Raphael the scammers
Off we went on what we knew would be the trickiest part of driving in Italy....the Amalfi coast road. I am not sure Dave should have had the limoncello. This road lived up to all expectations and more. The views were just spectacular. The road narrow and full of crazy Italians. Dave was looking very stressed, this road made the Dorrigo mountain seem like a drive around the block on Sunday.... It was very full on. Anyway we arrived safely and found our way to the car park which is a massive hole tunnelled into the side of the hill. Dave was very impressed with the engineering.
Our accommodation was up 180 steep steps on the side of the hill. We condensed what we needed for the next couple of days down to one case and hired a porter to take it up. The apartment was just lovely and the view from all three terraces breathtaking. Paola, our host was wonderful and she met us with hot fish and chips from her shop and a couple of beers and soft drinks to get us started. This was our dinner as we didn't need much after our huge lunch. We then walked down into town to have a wander and treat ourself to a gelato then back up the 180 steps to wear off the gelato.
walking up to the apartment, it's the one right up the top
Two days of blog to catch up on over a couple of wines and wonderful views out on the terrace :) Tomorrow we plan to catch the ferry round for a look at Positano and have a relaxed day, maybe have a swim. Life is good. 90_IMG_0243.jpg
our view from one of the three terraces :) Photos really don't do it justice.

Posted by The Hitchies 07:09 Comments (0)

Sunny skies in Amalfi :)

sunny 28 °C

Well the weather has blessed us with a perfect day just when we wanted it most. Amalfi is just stunningly beautiful. We woke up to a perfect day and magic views. The township is dominated by its beautiful cathedral which opens onto the town square. Most of the shopping is up in the backstreets behind the promenade and is fairly tourist oriented but pleasant.
I really wanted to see Positano which is another picture perfect township just around the peninsular. We decided that a ferry was probably the best option and off we went. We stuck fairly close to the coast which was perfect for sightseeing. Positano is a little more up market than Amalfi and it's well tended gardens and flowers were stunning. Brightly coloured petunias in pots and window boxes and bougainvillea were everywhere making a fabulous show against the multi coloured render of the buildings.
IMG_0260.jpg IMG_0245.jpg

Most of the shopping was in the streets behind the promenade and many more stairs were climbed. There were lots of lovely dress and shoe shops which were very tempting but I had too many hangers on (bored boys and men) to look extensively (needed Holly with me).
We went back to a little place called Ristorante Capricci for lunch. We had stopped here for coffee earlier and the food looked great. It definitely delivered and the meal was delicious. Though Dyl had a few issues with the hamburger. Someone forgot to order the buns and all that was on the plate was the meat and (god forbid) salad. Luckily there were chips or it could have been a disaster! Dylan has been getting into the mozzarella and his italian cheese and crackers consists of fresh buffalo mozzarella on a a trusty ritz cracker :)
The boys went for a swim on the rocky beach which was made of fine stones like river pebbles and grey coarse gritty sand. Luckily the water is crystal clear and beautiful. We decided it was time to head back, though we had a bit of a wait for the ferry, and we just sat and did some people and luxury boat watching while we waited.

more gelato while we wait for the ferry
Back up the steps to the apartment we chilled out with wine and niblies with a view.
Heading back to Rome tomorrow to pick up Holly, finally get to see my girl :)

Posted by The Hitchies 07:28 Archived in Italy Tagged amalfi positano Comments (3)

'Holly day'......... at last :)

sunny 29 °C

So we left Amalfi feeling a bit sad but excited all the same. Heading back to Rome to pick up Holly from the airport tonight. For those of you that don't know Holly has been on a 6 month university exchange at Leeds in England. She is now finished and has been on a sailing trip in Croatia for the last week with her friends. It has been 6 months since we have seen her so mum is a bit excited! She will spend the rest of the holiday and come home with us. Even Aden quietly admitted that he is looking forward to seeing her.
The drive back was just as spectacular as coming in, we went a slightly different way through Salerno which covered the coast road more and the views were extraordinary. Road got even narrower in places and you had to be switched on. Being a Saturday there were lots of cyclist on the road as well (many with no helmets) they tend to ride down the centre of the road so it is tricky to overtake them with traffic coming the other way. I shot some video on my phone which I will try and put up on Facebook.
Our gps is a bit peculiar and continues to take us through many back streets which are good driving practice, especially at the many crazy, 'no rules' intersections. We bypassed the autostrade many times till we stopped and changed the settings to 'fastest route' and that seemed to fix it. Even though the drivers are a bit crazy and road rules don't seem to apply no one seems to get too upset and they are patient when you do something wrong. I commend Dave as there is absolutely no way I would drive here.
Have arrived at our accommodation in Rome which is a very lovely B&B just near the airport. Very handy and much nicer, more homely and cheaper than a large hotel.
Not much else to tell today. Just waiting, Holly's flight comes in at 1250 am so still have another hour or more before we have to go. I will post this just so you have something for your morning coffee. Not even any pictures to post. :( Sorry.

Posted by The Hitchies 14:14 Archived in Italy Tagged rome amalfi Comments (2)

Our journey to Tuscany

Leaving Rome (as a family of 5) we headed north towards Florence. We decided to go via Siena for lunch on the way and have a bit of a look about, as many people had recommended it. They were certainly right, it is a lovely place and the most attractive city we have seen so far in Italy. The streets are very clean and the homes are very well cared for.
We parked outside of town and walked into the old city to see the piazza known as il Campo, the cathedral and duomo made of attractive coloured marble. The cathedral is very ornate and was built around 1215 with many sculpted gargoyles and beautiful paintings. Apparently the inside is impressive but we didn't have time to go inside as we needed to make a move to get to our accommodation outside of Florence at a decent hour.
The narrow alleyways and tall buildings in ochre tones make the city very attractive for walking. The shops were great, with lots of leather bags and shoes and some beautiful ceramics in the Tuscan syle. These were very tempting and I purchased some smaller things to take back as gifts. We had a nice lunch followed by gelato and then back to the car. 90_IMG_0274.jpg
Dylan clowning around in town, apparently these rings in the walls are to tie up your horse
We had about an hours drive to get to our villa. The scenery was spectacular and had everything you would imagine from movies about Tuscany with cultivated fields of grapes, olives and even sunflowers, rolling hills topped with villages or villas and pencil pines.
We arrived at our accommodation which was perfect and went for a swim to cool off.
Tonight I cooked for the first time after buying some delicious things from the deli in Siena. Italian produce really is something special and it makes cooking so simple. It was lovely to eat as a family again :)

Posted by The Hitchies 13:29 Comments (1)

A day in Florence

sunny 31 °C

Today we did a day trip into Florence. Once again I had managed to arrange a visit to an Italian city on a Monday....this is not good as the major galleries, the Ufizzi and the Academia were closed. That means no viewing of Venus or the statue of David. Anyway we decided we should opt for a science lesson today and we chose to visit the Gallileo museum and to have a wander through Florence.
As we drove into the city and we knew that we would have to use public transport as there is €100 fine for driving into the city without a permit. Dave was a little concerned about this so we found a parking area but couldn't find a bus anywhere and didn't know exactly where we were as we had no reasonable map. Anyway eventually we found someone to ask and they directed us to a bus stop which then linked to a tram which got us to the city (should have research that one a bit better).
We made our way to the museum and found lots of amazing devices for measuring everything and anything and lots of scientific devices. It was a physics teachers dream come true (Sean And Alex would love it).
We then wandered down to the Arno river to the Ponte Vecchio bridge. This is the bridge which has buildings on top of it. Most of these buildings are very nice jewellery shops and we did a spot of window shopping.
We found some lunch then wandered back to the tram via the cathedral. We went into the cathedral for a look albeit briefly as there is a dress code and Holly's shorts did not pass the test!
The cathedral is similar to Sienna's in that it is all coloured marble but this one is much larger again. We have seen so many impressive churches in Italy I think I am becoming a bit complacent.
I was a bit worried about finding our way back to the car but we managed finding a few good delis on the way for supplies for dinner.
For some reason I haven't been able to get any photos off my camera using the wireless to add to the blog so I will wait till I can get some pics added before I publish this one.
I enjoyed Florence but was much more impressed with Siena as it was much cleaner, quieter and attractive.

Posted by The Hitchies 10:21 Archived in Italy Tagged florence firenze Comments (0)

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