The ferry docked at 6h30 which meant get up at 5h30 and having a shower. The ferry is very noisy, and we did not sleep well. I used my sheet as a towel as the ferry only gives two dinky towels to use on board. Dave and I discussed where to meet after we had downed an espresso and I walked off the ferry while he drove off. We headed through the very busy streets of Naples for Pompeii and as we were early we went to do grocery shopping for lunch. We were lucky enough to arrive before the crowds at the ancient city of Pompeii and it was eerily dead and quiet. We walked around from 8h30 to 9h45 and saw as much as we could before the tour buses started arriving. There are many vineyards in the city and try as we may, we could not find one bottle of wine that is produced from the grapes anywhere. We drove on to Faria where we stopped for petrol and went on line to check in for our flights. We then continued to Sperlonga where we had our picnic lunch and then drove to Anzio. We had been there on our honeymoon in 2003 but we didn’t go the museum while we were there. We could not go this visit either as they were closed for lunch! We had an ice cream each – pistacchio for me and nocciola and cioccolato for Dave. We drove past the Beachhead War Cemetary and then went to the huge mall on the outskirts of Aprillia before driving back to Rome and the airport. We checked our luggage through to Cape Town, ate another snack and walked around the airport a bit before boarding our flight to Paris. We then hung around the airport, Dave on his laptop and me reading while we had free internet. We walked around a bit and I found a bottle of perfume that is not available here. By the time we boarded our flight I was exhausted. We took off at 23h45 and I got to see the Eiffel Tower! We had ‘supper’ which was terrible and then I slept a bit. We landed, cleared customs and popped in at the office before heading home. This was one great holiday!
Unbeknownst to us, the time reverted back from summer time at midnight on the 26th. We woke up at what we thought was 7am and got bathed and dressed and packed up. We went across the road to the hotel for breakfast and were the first to arrive. We had an amazing feast of food and an espresso each. The owner told us we were real Italians for ordering espresso. We paid, got the suitcases into the car and headed up Mount Etna on the south side of the volcano. 1.6km up we saw buried houses and a buried Church, next to newly built houses in the Mount Etna National Park. We then headed for Adrano where I would have loved to have walked around. We drove around looking for fuel and the self service machine decided that Dave wanted diesel and not unleaded like he had pushed. We had put in €20 and some guy came along at that exact time and had €10 so he got a gift of €10 more diesel than he paid for. We decided to not try the self service option again! With fuel in the car we headed to Agira where we stopped for espresso and traditional pastries. When we got to San Mauro Castelverde we stopped for lunch, This part of Sicily is so mountainous and we climbed up and up and up and then dropped down and down and down, covering lots of mileage but very little distance. We sat atop this hillside village overlooking the see while we had our picnic. The agriculture here is amazing, with olive trees clinging to the sides of mountains. We then stopped in Finale for gelato – pistacchio for Dave and Nicciolo for me. We then headed for Palermo and parked and walked around a bit, stopping for a Presecco before we headed to the ferry terminal. This city is expensive – €8 for 2 Prosecco and nothing served with it. We then headed for the ferry terminal and after driving around looking for the ferry – the signs were wrong, and the ferry changed name, we discovered we were an hour earlier than we thought. We had to be at the ferry two hours before it leaves for Naples and we were three hours early. We killed some time by driving around the streets of Palermo, but as soon as started getting dark we headed for the ferry and had a snack while waiting to board. Dave had to drive the car in alone, and I walked up to reception. When he eventually got there we got our room key and went to drop off our stuff. We had a two berth cabin and the space was limited. We walked around the ferry, watched it leave Palermo and then headed for the dining room for dinner. We had a 375ml bottle of 2011 Chianti and started with anti pasti to share of Gran Misto di Mare. It had octopus terrine which was very interesting. We both had the Spaghetti grezzi trafilatial bronza con pomodoro fresce e basillica which was recommended by the waiter as the chef is from Bari. After dinner we headed to the bar for a limoncino – not cheap! and then to bed.
After packing up and an early breakfast we made our way down south to Reggio di Calabria to see the Riace broniz. These two bronze statues were recovered from the seabed by trawlers. Typical to most of our visits to Italy, the museum where they are normally housed was closed for renovations and so we walked 10 minutes to see the statues. They are currently being restored and we could not take photographs of them. We then drive to Villa San Giovanni and caught the ferry to Messina. The crossing is about 20 minutes and we had a picnic lunch while waiting for the ferry to leave. Sicily is amazingly densely populated along the coast and we drove through village after village without much of a break in between each one. We stopped for ice cream at Gelati Giarre and Dave had tartufo and I had chocolate flavour. We headed for Catania before moving inland towards Mount Etna. We were quite fortunate in that she had blown her top that morning and we got to see quite a lot of black smoke pouring out of the top of the volcano. When we got to Nicolosi we started looking for a place to sleep and the Hotel Alle Pendici looked clean and suitable. However, they were fully booked! They also run a self catering house across the road and we were given the upstairs for our use. Our cooler bag went into the fridge and we had a lovely large room with a comfortable bed. The only downside was it faced the road and the traffic was quite busy through the night. We had a separate bathroom but as we were the only people upstairs, and it was the uncle staying downstairs it was not a problem. The room and breakfast cost us €55!
We went to Antico Orto Die Limoni for supper where we were told we could get a traditional Sicilian meal. The restaurant is in an old wine press and there are loads of levels to negotiate. We had the Vino rosso della casa to drink – a pleasant red wine made from local grapes. As we were walking we had a 1l carafe. We started with rustico e tipico della casa, an anti pasti plate of dishes that were delicious. I had the scaloppine al marsala for my main course and despite looking, I still have not found a bottle of marsala to bring home with me. Dave had the cosciutto di maiale ai funghi e asparagi as his main which was delicious. I could not resist dessert and had the torta al limone e pistacchio – true regional ingredients. We were then served some malvasia which is like our local hanepoort with some biscuits. There was aniseed in one of the biscuits. We ended our evening with a limoncello each and the bill came to €47.
After breakfast we drove straight to Vibo Valentia and went to the Museo Archeologica di Vibo Valentia. The museum is situated at the castello which was built in 1070 and the archeological findings are from the 6th and 5th Century BC. The castle is 560m above sea level. We then did some grocery shopping and stopped between Pernocari and Rombiolo for lunch. We drove to Nicotera Marina and had an espresso while watching the fisherman prepare to go out fishing. We drove to Joppolo and Dave had cioccolata gelato and I had zuppa Inglese. We came back to the resort and loafed at the pool, reading books. Dave had a swim and then we came back to the apartment. I have tried the locally grown clementines which are sweet, and locally grown cactus fruit. You can see them alongside the side of the road, growing wild. Wine tonight is Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Collezione 2011. We had nduja on crackers while supper cooked. Dave made a pasta sauce with shallots, chilli, garlic, tomatoes, fennel, valeriana and cream, and served on tortelloni ai funghi porcini. We then drove down to the village for a last gelato at Gelateria Del Borgo. Dave had limone and I had mandorla. We walked around and then went to have prosseco and snacks in the main square. We came back to the apartment and sat drinking our wine.
After breakfast we drove towards Capo Vaticano stopping to do some grocery shopping along the way. We went via Santa Maria to Joppolo where we stopped for an espresso. We then drove a 3.1km windy road to Spilinga, heading up to a peak of 685m above sea level. We had a picnic lunch at the viaduct in Spilinga of rolls with boiled eggs and pancetta. Nduja originates from this town. We drove down an amazing gorge heading to Brattiro before coming back to the resort. The resort is 219.6m above sea level. We read books for a bit and then caught the bus to the beach. Part of our resort fees include deck chairs and an umbrella at the beach. We however chose to walk along the boardwalk before Dave swam and I dipped my legs in the water. We climbed up to the Cburch gate and back down before climbing the stairs up to the town. Gelato today was liquirizia and tiramisù for me, and stracciatella for Dave. We walked around a bit before having prosecco and snacks in the main square. We caught the bus back to the resort. The wine tonight is Sant’ Elia Rosso Riserva Barrique 2008. Dave made a pasta sauce with shallots, garlic, chilli, tomatoes, sardines and cream which he served over spaghetti topped with valerian. Our meal was completed with crackers served with pesto and cheese.
We are having a lazy day. After breakfast we headed into Tropea and bought fish and vongole for dinner. We then went to get local pastries for dessert and rolls for lunch. We came back to the resort and Dave did a load of laundry as he didn’t bring enough summer clothes with him. We have had the most amazing weather. We sat at the pool while the machine did its thing before coming back to the apartment for lunch. Rolls with tomato, cheese, pesto and proscuitto. We read our books and Dave had a snooze before we walked the 1.8km steep down hill into Tropea. We went to Tonino Gelateria where I had cipolla ice cream made from Tropea onions, and fiordilatte and Dave had pistacchio. We went to buy olives from a local shop and then stopped for prosecco and snacks in the main square before walking back up the hill to the resort. I took a swim in my clothes as I didn’t think to pack a costume. Dave changed into shorts before taking a dip. We came back to the apartment and changed, had a glass of prosecco and went to play pinball – I lost! We then sat at the pool enjoying another glass of prosecco. I caught my thumb in the deck chair and it is bruised and eina (sore). Dave made a sauce with tomato, zucchini,garlic, onion, chilli and vongole for the fish which he fried with some fennel. We had crackers with pesto and proscuitto and lemoncino to end the evening.
After breakfast at the resort we headed for the other side of the Meditteranean. We drove over the mountains through olive groves and farmland and stopped in Vallelonga for a walk and espressos. We then headed to Siderno where we bought rolls before heading to the beach for lunch. Once again we had hard boiled eggs with pancetta. Dave and I walked into the sea and along the beach before heading South. We stopped for an afternoon espresso in Comune di Roccella Jonica. We then headed under the mountain through a 3.2km tunnel, and along a gorge to Nicotera. We drove through a huge olive grove plantation and lemon groves. The lemon scent was so strong we could smell the lemons in the car with the windows up. The hilltop cities look amazing from far but the houses are run down, derelict or ruins. Many shops are closed or empty indicating how bad the recession is in Southern Italy. We stopped to take a photo of the amazing vista at a height of 525.9m above sea level. We got back to the resort and Dave had a swim before we enjoyed a prosecco each. We had a Calabrian dinner at the resort. We started with a cold buffet of lettuce, tomato, olives, onions, cold meats, cheese, bruschetta with tomato, cooked onions and melanzane, dough balls and a huge bowl of chilies. The hot buffet was a bean and zucchini soup, tomato and melenzane pasta, grilled peppers, potato chips with melenzana and zucchini, melanzane, dough balls, pork sausage and a meat kebab. Dessert was a semolina orange cake. The cost was €15 per person including water and wine. We went back to our apartment for lemoncino.