Saturday, October 7, 2023

Our Italian Adventure Part Two

Roma is often portrayed as a city of pickpockets.  I wore a money bag around my chest, but never felt challenged.  At the Jazz Cafe Ristorante Papa Rex Mumu we had a very helpful waiter who handled separate billings, always a problem with groups very well.  Hop on Hop  off is a great way to learn some of the highlights.  On a double decker bus we got a better view on the  Coloseum and Superior Court.  Also fairly crowded.  We were told that Romans were early users of cement.  Reminds me Phil King had told me Italy was crowded while France was not because of terrorist scares.

 By the Trevi Fountain

  the Colosseum


                                                            the bridge to their Supreme Court





Another day the Vatican proved to be very massive with loads of distinguished art.  We learned about Michelangelo who was able to make a flat surface look curved.  So crowded it was difficult to take a good look much of the time.  The problem is that we felt herded.  There was an unbelievable number of people wanting to see and limited space.  St. Peter's Square was impressive and free toilet facilities restored some of our faith.

The Vatican makes for the seventh country I have traveled in--Canada, the United States, Cuba, New Zealand, Italy and now the Vatican. 



Capri was a side trip, but the most anticipated.  We had decided the restaurants were too expensive.  We took a boat tour.  The landscape was mostly rocks, but lots of trees growing.  We had Sophia Loren's house pointed out.  The Blue Grotto was not available because of rough water, but given a close view.  Did go into another grotto and saw color changes enhanced.







From Capri we took a different ferry to Sorrento which was not really part of the scheduled tour.  We walked up from the shore and through part of the town.  I bought a belt.  Another fine lunch including  pizza with eggplant.  Two travelers had been misdirected and eventually found their way back to our resort.  There was a motorcycle accident on way back.


 Masking had become less of an issue.  We had originally been told we would need to wear masks while in airplanes or the tour bus, but that had been relaxed.  But seniors being seniors it was normal to cough and sometimes our fellow travelers coughed.  Covid has been increasing, but we also didn't want to catch someone else's colds.  Most of us started to wear masks more often, but not everyone. 

 Pompeii was on my bucket list and we had a really good guide, Piero, who was called in with the original guide off ill.  I also had a curiosity about the Etruscans and learned that Pompeii had been founded by them.  I bought a T shirt with a Pompeii theme.  Piero joined us for a bus tour of Naples.  







Naples is the major city closest to where Sharon's Grandmother had been born.  It had a reputation of being very poor and shady.  Also where pizza was first made.  We were taken up to heights where the rich people lived with a beautiful view of the Bay of Naples and the lower down.   It had been founded by Greeks.  We felt Naples was more substantial than we had been led to believe.


To get to Sicily it was decided to take a ferry boat.  Saved a lot of time transporting as we could sleep for the duration.   The ferry boat had two escalators and a lot of facilities.  We were not impressed with food, although for a difference we were given a few options for both primary and secondary entrees.

Palermo is famous for its Mafia connections.  Our guide pointed out a Mafia victim memorial stone.  Founded by Phoenicians followed by Romans, Byzantines, Arabs.  Normans were brought in by the Pope to get rid of Muslims. Still other groups settled such as Swabians and Angelines. The Spanish dominated for 4 centuries.



On our way to a UNESCO church site combining Arab and Norman influences we watched a busking opera singer and dropped some money in his cup.  On the way back we were delayed with a protest march fortunately moving away from us.

We were taken to a very extensive street market that we returned to for our lunch enjoying some local specialties. I remembered our guide suggested a third way to enjoy gelato inside a brioche.  Our manager agreed that free time was something favored by tour groups.

UNESCO honored church


attractive flowering tree  silk floss


 Opera singing busker.



Part of my lunch.

 Our driver made this suggestion requiring a slight detour.  It is a natural and beautiful land feature known as the Turkish Steps.




 Agrigento was the site of Greek temples chosen for its view of the Mediterranean, defensively strong. Lots of olives and surprisingly for carob trees.  Also surprised to see goats.  They also had a memorial section for people who died  in good causes.

A model for a UNESCO symbol.




The fallen Icarus.

With a carob tree.  Carobs are an important part of my diet.







 A memorial for those who died in the cause of freedom.



The ancient Greek Roman theatre hosts big name world class entertainment.







From the theatre you get a view of Mt. Etna that is still classified as active.








We saw a chance to try a brioche gelato.  Marleen asked the server if he could take a photo.  Instead he jumped out and wanted his photo taken by his assistant.  Eventually we also took a photo of the assistant.  The brioche gelato was great.





Food has played a big role in the attraction of Italy.  We certainly enjoyed pasta and pizza in some of the variations.  Risotto was not only enjoyed in the northern part of Italy, but also in the southern portion.

 Our last hotel  Saint Alphio was not the only one to help us sleep with the sound of sea waves.  My first experience with sea waves was in Florida and I was annoyed at first, but came to appreciate it as an aid to sleep.  When my mother was dying and having difficulty relaxing with the help of my daughter Heather I taped some ocean sounds and learned it had been very helpful.   They also had the best food and servicing including food and entertainment.


 This trio catered to our tables.








A flaming cake to bid us farewell

 At the last nite at the Saint Alphio Hotel our tables received a lot of attention from the musical entertainment (guitar,accordion and singer/drums).  Also received a large very delicious cake presented in a flaming manner.

Unfortunately right after that we had to get ready to go home which required a 1:30 wake up for us (the equivalent of 7:30 pm on the preceding Sunday) and then were driven to the Catatonia Airport.  Several of us were wearing masks and one American traveler assumed we had Covid and raised an alarm.  That calmed down and we were flown to Rome with waiting and bureaucracy time at both airports.  Got to the Toronto Airport and at about 2:49 local time.  Then more waiting and bureaucracy until finally picked up by Airways Transit for a drive home in rush hour traffic.  We will be sorting out lots of details such as laundry for the next few days.   Our cats seemed glad to see us, but a little confused.  We are still acclimatizing ourselves to our regular time zone.

In case you missed the first part of our Italian adventure check:

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