Italy part 2 - Laura's Return to Sicily
12.11.2016 - 20.11.2016 18 °C
After a few problems trying to get in from the airport, Laura, Peter and I rushed to the Stadio Olympico to see the All Blacks trounce Italy. The home crowd was excitable when Italy were in possession and we were happy for them that they scored a late try. Going to the rugby was a good idea Colin! We enjoyed pizza and wine with Colin, Robyn and their other kiwi friends Josh, Steph and Rhys.
The Colosseum played host to Peter, Laura and I on Sunday morning. We arrived early enough to see the ancient arena before the crowds that pour in daily had arrived. We did see Colin and Robyn there and then walked to the Roman forum via a coffee stop and some olive oil tasting at a market on a side street.
After exploring the sprawling ruins of ancient Rome’s political heart, we walked some more to a premium pizza shop that peter knew.
We then checked out the Pantheon (which dad will remember me studying in high school) and the Trevi fountain. Peter fed the fountain his coins even though he knows he'll be back. I wonder how self fulfilling this superstition is...
On Monday morning we arrived in Vatican City early. We bumped into Colin and Robyn at St Peter's basilica, which was a huge building which unusually is designed to appear smaller and more intimate than it really is. The statues which are higher up are actually 50% larger - making them look the same size as the statues lower down.
We then queued for the Vatican museum (including the Sistine chapel), but Laura and I decided that we didn't have time before our train South. Peter stuck the queue out while we grabbed our bags before our Naples train. Peter and I hadn't been to Pompeii before but Laura had, so Laura changed trains to Herculaneum (a smaller ruin from the same eruption).
At Pompeii we again found Colin and Robyn and then all went together to the train on to Salerno - a cute seaside town with bright Christmas lights!!
Tuesday meant goodbye to Colin and Robyn, who left early to explore the Amalfi coast. After walking along the Salerno waterfront, Peter, Laura and I left a few hours later on a bus to Amalfi itself. That afternoon we walked and walked up hill to the pretty town of Ravello where we saw the last rays of sun hit the peninsula.
Wednesday comprised a day of walking along the “Path of the Gods" and then travel South. We left our bags at reception in Amalfi town then caught a bus to the start of the trail. We had perfect sunny weather for our walk up and down along the picturesque Amalfi coast towards Positano.
After our 3 hour hike we only had time to pick up a quick lunch before it was time to leave on our 7 hour transport marathon to the bottom of the boot of Italy.
On Thursday we woke up to another sunny Italian day, this time in Villa San Giovanni. We caught a ferry across to begin our Sicily adventure!
Laura had booked a premium apartment in Taormina with a great view. While we were here we ate great food acc went to the beach and up to the castle above the town but didn't get clear enough weather for a view of Mt Etna.
We then caught a bus to the city of Catania, where Laura's host family had driven for over an hour to pick us up. Laura was immediately catching up on 11 years of life - in Italian - while Peter and I caught what we could of it all. Cetty (mum) spoke some English so she was able to explain things with some vocab from Laura.
The next day we saw all the sites of Caltagirone including the 144 steps, each with a different ceramic pattern.
That evening was a whirlwind of extended family dropping in to say hi to Laura, mixed in with hearty portions of Carbonara for one course of lunch, and authentic pizza for a 10pm dinner! Both meals had homemade desserts!
On our final morning we were again treated to a meal by our hosts, this time tasty Italian pastry treats. Unfortunately it was time to say Ciao to Cetty and Luigi until they come to visit us one day!