Italy 2006

Italy here we come!
After months of planning, thinking and dreaming we at last sat on the plane for Italy. It was the early Friday morning 1 September 2006. Me, my husband, a pair of suitcases, a rental car waiting at the airport and two holiday weeks. Life couldn't be better!

All roads lead to Rome, so they say. Maybe that's the reason why it was hard getting out of Rome and understanding the signs on the roads. We had decided to go to Tivoli the first day. It took some time to find out how the roads were marked, so we came to Palestrina instead - but since we hadn't been there either it was as good as any town.

The trip continued to Poli for ice cream. The town seemed to contain two roads and fifty stairs… and the stairs didn't lead anywhere so we never found the Centro Storico.

At last we arrived in Tivoli, about 40 km from Ciampino where we started. We ate at L'Angelo de Mirko that night. We had Sagne allo Scifo con amatriciana e pecorino, pasta served in an oak bowl. It was delicious and we really recommend it!

From our room we could see the piazza. Apparently all the inhabitants in Tivoli had learned the dance Meneito cause lots of people were dancing it. Little Claudia was one of them.

Villa d'Este in Tivoli is the most beautiful park in Europe. Today we were there. It was tremendously beautiful, with its fountains, wonderful terraces and paintings. I understand why it bet Norrvikens Trädgårdar and Botaniska Trädgården in Göteborg.

But man does not live by fountains alone. We went to Subiaco and the camping at Mount Liviata. We considered that camping in the mountains wasn't our cup of tea, so we found a small hotel downtown instead.

In Subiaco we went to Borgia's Castle. Lucrezia Borgia was born there in the 15:th century. Her story is quite interesting…

Her son, by the way, built Villa d'Este in Tivoli, the beautiful place we visited yesterday.

In the evening we had pizza. This kind I will try at home:
Pizza Bianco, which means pizza with mozzarella
After baking it you decorate it with sliced prosciutto, ruccola and parmesan.
No pizza seasoning and no tomato.

50 km from Subiaco is Campo Staffi. It is a ski resort in wintertime and a wonderful walking area in the summer. Not so bad view for a picnic!

A strange thing happened. We stayed shortly in Capistrello to buy ice cream. The price was €1,80. The lady who served us mumbled something to the cashier and suddenly the price was €5. We tried to protest but its hard to argue in a foreign language. We gave up and payed, even though the proper thing to do would have been to leave the ice creams and just go.

To find somewhere to stay we went to Cassino. We followed the signs to Le NinFee Bed & breakfast until the road ended. That was a lucky strike! We were tired and warm after a long day. We got a nice room, towels, dressing gowns and a veranda of our own. In the garden there was a pool to which we had free access. We refreshed ourselves and went down to the dining room. Silvana, the owner, was free to make us a dinner and we weren't disappointed!
Pasta Carbonara
Another plate with chicken, I don't know what it was called
Cake with cognac, nougat and nuts
Lemon liqueur
…and wine to drink.

Two days later we dared to ask what the price would be. It ended at €25 per person and it was really worth it.

Earthquakes and wars have destroyed the Abbey of Monte Cassino on four separate occasions. The worst - and last - destruction was in 1944. The homesite of Monte Cassino says:

"Montecassino happened to be on the firing line between two armies: this place of prayer and study which had become in these exceptional circumstances a peaceful shelter for hundreds of defenceless civilians, in only three hours was reduced to a heap of debris under which many of the refuges met their death."

The abbey has been rebuilt. When we were there it happened to be in siestatime and closed.

At the tourist office in Cassino the kind man said something in Italian. He pointed at the map, saying something about Poland, England and Germany. Going down from Montecassino we drove a roundabout way and found a Polish War Cemetery. A Polish delegation happened to come when we were there. They had flowers, sang a verse of a psalm and prayed, lead by a cardinal. It was very moving.

From Cassino it is a beautiful day-tour to Pescasseroli. The roads are so magnificent that they can make you cry. Well, not the roads literally, but the view. Not only we have seen the beauty in the area. Lots of people have found a holiday resort here, with trekking or horseback excursions. This was one of the easiest places to be understood in English on our trip to Italy.

In the park we found horses and cows with bells. In my imagination it is the leading cow that has the bell. Not every cow and absolutely no horse! When everyone moves at the same time it is a marvellous sound.

The hills are covered with beech, oak and blackberry, on a height that in Sweden would have meant only mountain birch. In the valleys we found chestnuts, olives and grapes. And all of it is marvellous and beautiful.

When I think of it the word Marvellous is the most common word on this journey.

It is hard to drive in Benevento! It has very tiny streets and they are all in one direction (mostly the opposite). But never the less Benevento is a nice town. The university probably makes it popular for youths and in the night lots of them were strolling in the town. We ourselves went out among them and had a pizza. No one can resist a late pizza, when it's still 25 degrees!

Over the mountains, through the valleys… and to Capaccio
Today I've sung that in the car.

We went south to Capaccio and found Masseria Feudo and booked a room for some nights. Paestum is the neighbour town from Capaccio. It has an enormous ancient Greek temple area, surrounded by a wall with the length of nearly 5 km. An impressing building!

We bought our food in a supermercato and ate it on our own balcony:
Bread and grissini
Buffalo mozarella
… and white wine from the area.

Italian manner
Sven-Arne drives like an italian. Sometimes he does it even in Sweden and it's not popular.

Some of the signs on the road we have not been able to understand. The speed limit says something and everyone drives faster. Is it just recommendations? I saw on the Internet before our trip to Italy that it was forbidden to drive and talk in cell phone at the same time. It does not seem to stop anyone from doing it. You will not be able to calm down or think of anything else while you drive, because any time someone in a hurry will think it is his turn or make a overtake in the right side.

On the other hand we have seen ambulances with blue light, staying at a traffic light.

We never camped in Italy, even though we had planned for it. We went to several camping lots but none of them felt like our cup of tea. It is off-season and you get a bit lonely on the camping area. Further more the facilities are a bit different from those on a Swedish camping. We felt a bit exposed with our small tent and decided to chose places were we could close the door.

We went south along the coast this day. If you want a tip for a seaside town, we say Agropoli or Terracina, were we were two years ago. Nice towns with walking areas along the water, lots of sand and clear water.

Agropoli even has a railroad bridge. Life couldn't be better.

One day we decided to go to Pompeii. We wanted to go by train and went to the station, ten minutes before departure. Like two confused hens we stood there, looking for were to buy the ticket. A kind Italian man pointed at the bar on the opposite side of the railroad. To go there, buy them and get back in ten minutes was impossible. We realized that Pompeii, a ruin for the last 2000 years, would remain so until tomorrow.

In the evening we went to the bar. Sven-Arne said, in Italian, "Can I have two tickets to Pompeii tomorrow, turn and return, please" and was lauded by the bar assistant, for talking Italian instead of English.

Next day we finally managed to come to Pompeii.In our guidebook we saw that Vesuvius had its last major eruption in 1944. The text continue:
"Since then Vesuvius has been 'asleep', but it is expected to reawaken any day now" and that felt a bit calming… so we kept an eye on Vesuvius all day.

Pompeii was impressing and interesting. We recommend a bottle of water and comfortable shoes for visitors!

The last evening on our trip we went to Rome. Two years ago we visited it for the first time. We intended to go to Fontana di Trevi but went wrong and missed it. This time we bought a map and started to walk… or swim I mean! It was raining… But rain has never stopped us before so we continued anyhow.

A late plate of spaghetti al vongole was the final dinner on this tour. And now the tour is over for this time. Until next time we plan to learn italian!