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.