A one month trip through Italy

Old Oct 1st, 2020, 12:05 PM
  #41  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Correction

The last of the mosaic covered churches above is San Giovanni in Laterano, not Santa Maria Maggiore.
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2020, 01:47 PM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 2,486
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
Hey, Russ, you’re killing us!! We all want to be there ......

wonderful photography.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Oct 3rd, 2020, 04:40 AM
  #43  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Rome to Pompeii to Positano

We grabbed an Uber from the apartment and picked up the car to head out of Rome. Rush hour traffic, and a missed turn, resulted in spending too much time inching along to the next roundabout to turn around, reminding us why we don’t drive in Rome; but soon enough we were heading south on the Autostrada towards Pompeii.

One positive development we have found as the trip has progressed is that everywhere we go, our temperatures are taken and we are asked to complete forms to assist with contact tracing. This started in Tuscany, and continued in Rome. Museums, restaurants, hotels, almost everyone is following a safety protocol that we never saw in France.

We stopped for our first pizzas of the trip in Pompeii, near the entrance to the site, after first having our temps taken and completing a contact form. We figured that we may as well have pizza in the area where they were invented, and they were delicious.

Last time we were at Pompeii, 15 years ago, we missed seeing the Villa dei Misteri, which has some of the best preserved frescos of the site, so we decided to head directly there. We were disappointed to discover that that area was closed, and in fact, a good 50% or more of the entire site was closed. This was likely a result of reduced staffing due to COVID, although that didn’t reduce the sting of missing yet again. Of course, no commensurate reduction in the price of entry.

I feel that the frescoes and mosaics spoke to me more this time, rather than the wide open public spaces. Of course, the plaster casts of the people caught for 2000 years in the hardened ash is always moving. Regardless of the closed off areas, we saw a lot over the next three hours, before heading to Positano for the next three nights.

We arrived at the Villa Rosa Hotel, where we stayed last time, and it is just as lovely as we remember it...and the traffic on the narrow winding streets just as bad. I decided not to do an AirBnB here because the ones I found were either too expensive or too far up the mountain side, Positano being even more vertical than the Cinque Terre. When she showed us our room, I commented that our room last time also had the same beautifully painted vaulted ceiling. She replied that this was the only room in the hotel with that ceiling, so we lucked out, getting the same exact room we had all those years ago!

Soon after our arrival we headed to dinner at Lo Guarracino, a favorite seaside place from last time. When we ate here before we had asked the proprietress what the name of the restaurant meant, to which she replied, “An ugly fish”. I responded by saying, “but it’s a good tasting fish?”, to which she replied, “no, it tastes terrible”. We all got a good laugh from that. I reminded her of that conversation from before, and this time she added, “The men give it to the women; after that they don’t talk anymore”. Clearly woman’s rights have a ways to go in Italia.

On our way back to the room, we decided to stop for a drink at the renowned La Sirenuse hotel, which is right across the street from our hotel. They showed us to the very tasteful outdoor bar area. The views were beautiful and live acoustic guitar music filtered out of the restaurant to the terrace where we were seated. We briefly contemplated booking dinner there, until the bill came for two drinks, at a price that made our eyes water. Easily the most expensive drinks of our lives, the total was 50% higher than our entire lunch earlier in the day. Just for fun I checked the room prices on line, and the cheapest price was 5 times what we are paying just across the street. Worried that they might be charging us by the minute, we slunk back to our room, and enjoyed almost the same view for a price that didn’t provoke tears.















The painted ceiling in our hotel room

Positano sunset

Last edited by russ_in_LA; Oct 3rd, 2020 at 05:33 AM.
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2020, 05:28 AM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,847
Likes: 0
Received 7 Likes on 1 Post
Fabulous photos!
yestravel is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2020, 07:20 AM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 969
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Outstanding photos, Russ. Sorry about the Villa dei Misteri. I missed it also on my trip in spring 2019, albeit because I was beat after 5 hours touring 3 of the 9 quadrants. When I saw that it was a 1/2 mile walk from where I was, I just thought “screw it”. All the more reason to be sure I go back someday.
MinnBeef is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2020, 06:55 AM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cinque Terre looks lovely.. thanks for sharing those awesome picures.
Lisvianos is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2020, 12:04 PM
  #47  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Amalfi Coast and Paestum

Fortunately, this wasn’t our first trip to Positano, because we really needed a rest from 5 days of running around in Rome. Unless you’re spending the day at the beach, taking a trip to Capri or driving along the coast, there is really not a lot to do there, so after a quick stroll through town, we planted ourselves at a beach-side cafe and nursed a cold drink until lunch time rolled around, when we realized that it was easier to order food than to try to move. It turned out to be a rather humid day, so after a long mid-afternoon nap, we ended up back at Lo Guarracino again for dinner, the food being excellent and the setting so lovely right next to the water.

The next morning, the humidity having broken, we decided to take the ferry to Amalfi, but apparently the sea was too rough and they were cancelled. This turned out to be fortuitous, since we decided instead to drive to Ravello, about 20 minutes up the hillside from Amalfi, but worlds away in style.

The two main draws in Ravello are the Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbone, the gardens of which can be toured. If you’ve seen photos of Ravello before, they have undoubtedly been taken from one of these spots. The views of the coastline with the gardens in the foreground are stunning.

After Ravello, we made a quick one hour loop through Amalfi, which is much more on the mass market circuit, there being a lot more room for large tour busses to park. The main draw is the Duomo, with its beautiful 13th century cloister showing its moorish influence.

After 3 nights in Positano, we headed for Matera, in the region of Basilicata, stopping first at Paestum for the fantastic Greek temples. This was among the first of the Greek colonies, and contains some of the best Greek ruins of Magna Grecia. If you want to see the best preserved Greek temples, you have to go to southern Italy. In my option, these are surpassed only by those found in Sicily.


Positano

Positano

Positano, near Lo Guarracino

Villa Rufolo, Ravello

Villa Rufolo, Ravello

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

This is what happens when you and your neighbor can’t agree on paint colors, Ravello

Cloister, Amalfi

Amalfi campanile

Priano, from the car window

Paestum

Paestum

Paestum

Ho hum, just another lunch with a view of 2500 year old Greek ruins

Last edited by russ_in_LA; Oct 6th, 2020 at 12:37 PM.
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2020, 01:00 PM
  #48  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 54,392
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
great to read that you are still having such a good time and for the stunning photos. I was particularly interested in the ones of Paestum that you have posted as they have helped identify the temples that appear at the beginning of the film that we are starting to study in my italian class. I wondered where they were and now I know!
annhig is online now  
Old Oct 6th, 2020, 05:11 PM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 969
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think I had lunch at that same restaurant at the Paestum temples!
MinnBeef is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2020, 10:35 AM
  #50  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Matera

Although this was our second trip to Matera, it was as fascinating and enjoyable as the first time we went, 15 years ago. We stayed in a cave room in the “sassi”, which is a series of caves carved into a ravine. This area was notorious in the 1960’s for being one of the most squalid places in Italy (and documented in the book and film, “Christ Stopped at Eboli). People at that time still lived in these caves with no running water or sanitation. Cholera was still an ongoing problem. The government finally had to step in and relocate the inhabitants to the modern town, outside the Sassi.

This historic center was virtually abandoned until 1992 when UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site. Since that time, hotels, restaurants, shops and museums have continued redeveloping the old cave dwellings.

We did self-guided walking tours, up and down a lot of stairs, and saw almost a dozen churches which had been carved out of the living rock, most with frescos intact, that were painted in Medieval times. Most of the places have normal looking facades, but once you go inside, you can see rooms in caves that were dug out centuries ago. It looks much like Judaea must have looked like 2000 years ago.

Our favorite places were the churches, the museums set up like former homes and businesses, a tour through the city’s largest underground cistern, and a Salvatore Dali exhibit inside a decommissioned church, with his modern sculptures juxtaposed against the ancient medieval cave frescos.

As I said the first time we went, it really is a magical place.



Behind these facades hide the cave-churches, dwellings, hotels and shops of Matera

Inside an underground cave-church, carved right out of the stone...plus some red dots for social distancing.

Frescoes in a cave church

Cave dwellings “fixed up” for a museum display. In real life the animals would have been on the bottom level, so the people were literally sleeping in the barn.

Barbershop in a cave

Walking through an underground cistern. You can see the high water marks on the walls. Not seen here, the holes in the ceiling where buckets were lowered to draw water.

The Duomo (not in a cave)

Painted wood ceiling in the Duomo

Cave church

Cave church

Dali exhibit in former cave church.

Dali exhibit in former cave church.

These decorative plates are used to cover the outside of ventilation holes in the caves, creating pretty architectural details along the streets.

Believe it or not, that big boulder at the top has a cave-church inside of it.

So pretty at night


Last edited by russ_in_LA; Oct 7th, 2020 at 10:38 AM.
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2020, 10:52 AM
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,510
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your trip and photos are fabulous! And I'm so jealous! We were in Italy exactly a year ago for 5 weeks and had the best trip ever. We visited some of the same places you did and I would so love to go back! What a treat to be able to be there now with no crowds.

Stay well and safe - and keep posting! It's a pleasure to see these amazing places through your eyes.
progol is online now  
Old Oct 9th, 2020, 10:53 AM
  #52  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A Trulli Special Place

While we enjoyed Matera and the Amalfi Coast, we were looking forward to being in an AirBnB again after four days of hotels and eating out every meal. Even though we have been choosing only places with outdoor seating due to COVID, we also didn’t want to tempt fate.

Our destination for the next four nights was officially Ostuni, in Puglia, but our home away from home was actually about halfway from that city and Martina Franca, in the Itria Valley. We had spent a week near here one August in the late 90’s, at a working Masseria, which is a typical farm, surrounded by low mortar-less stone walls. Our experience at that time was so phenomenal, it would be impossible to replicate.

The place we stayed at then was an agriturismo, a working farm that also provides room and board. It was comprised of a big white farm house, built in the 1700’s from the local stone, which looked like it belonged in Greece rather than Italy. It was surrounded by olive trees and grape vines. They produced their own olive oil, as well as a dessert wine called “primitivo”, made from Zinfandel, with which we finished off dinner every night.

By now it’s redundant to say that the food was good, but here it was truly exceptional. Every day they baked fresh bread for that day’s meals. Breakfast always featured homemade jams. Lunches and dinners were epic, always starting with a fresh home made pasta or risotto of eggplant, tomato or seafood. This was followed by a main course, like meatballs stuffed with ham and cheese; “involtini” - beef rolled with herbs inside; peppers stuffed with meat and rice; little pizzas cooked in the wood-burning oven; or excellent mussels, clams and fish. In addition, there were at least 2 or 3 side dishes: fresh vegetables battered and fried, or sautéed in olive oil; salad, cheeses, tomatoes, or incredibly sweet peppers. The meal always ended with a huge bowl of grapes, peaches and other fruit, biscotti, café, and primitivo. It’s a good thing we stayed only a week, or they would have had to roll us out of there.

There were about 16 other people there as well, not including the owner, his wife and 2 kids. The basic routine was to go to the beach in the morning, come back for an enormous lunch, take a siesta during the hottest part of the day, and then do something undemanding in the afternoon, like go back to the beach, or visit a nearby town.

Dinner was at 9pm, and was usually followed by some activity like tennis, volleyball or soccer, until 1 in the morning. (I played soccer one night, had a great time, and paid for it for the next 2 weeks, with bruises on my shins and toes.) By the end of the week we were joining the owners or other guests at their tables for dinner, or for excursions to buy pottery in the afternoons.

The last night was the evening before Ferragosto, one of the biggest holidays of the year. The tradition in this area is to go to the beach and build bonfires. At midnight, everyone jumps into the sea, and then dries off around the fire. It’s surprising how warm the water was that August night over 20 years ago.

So anyway, back to the present day. As we approached our destination, driving through rolling hills covered by ancient gnarled olive trees, conical roofed trulli started to pop up like porcini. These are strange mortar-less stone structures that dot the countryside. The theory of their origin is that they were originally not considered permanent structures and therefore, not subject to taxation.

The downside of staying in most AirBnB's is that we really miss the pleasure of Italian hospitality, so we were beyond thrilled when we arrived to our current digs, a hamlet of trulli, surrounded by olive trees, on a working farm. The owner was on hand to greet us and, blissfully, she didn’t speak English. Two weeks ago our Italian was pretty rusty, but it’s amazing how much has come back since then, so we were happy to have friendly hosts to talk to.

There are a total of four independent accommodations on the property, three in a series of connected trulli, and ours in a stand alone house. Inside the kitchen, the owner had arranged a cornucopia of delicious goodies for us. This included their own olive oil and wine, persimmons, figs, apples, peaches, lemons, tomatoes and squash from the garden, as well as a basket of jam, coffee, cookies and crackers. Inside the fridge they left us fresh pasta, tomato purée, milk, fruit juice and grapes. But the best part is when she showed us to the chicken coop, and emerged with half a dozen fresh eggs, which were still warm! Heaven!!

She also showed us the inside of two of the trulli houses that didn’t have guests, which are adorable. They are tastefully decorated and are very comfortable. We would be happy to stay in any of them, but I like our outdoor space the best, with a covered patio, hammocks and a view of the olive trees.

We’ve been here a couple days now and have already been given more eggs, as well as tips on where to buy pottery. She told us to help ourselves to anything in the garden, so we have had the sweetest, honey-flavored figs with prosciutto three days in a row. We’ve been so happy, we extended our stay here from 4 to 6 days. We have been doing some sightseeing as well, but that will have to wait for another day.



Trulli captivating

Trulli kitties

Life in the slow lane

Some other trulli in the hood.

Nice jugs

A curious visitor

More rooms on the Masseria.

More rooms on the masseria.

Gate to the garden of earthly delights.

Some of the delicious goodies.

Enjoying the bounty

Last edited by russ_in_LA; Oct 9th, 2020 at 11:43 AM.
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Oct 9th, 2020, 11:14 PM
  #53  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 2,486
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
What a trip! All these lovely, wonderful places on my wish list. Beautiful photos.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Oct 10th, 2020, 10:35 AM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,383
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Russ, IMHO this above was your best photo array thus far. And your foodic images are great visual appetizers!
Carry on, where next?

I am done. The fresh figs.
zebec is online now  
Old Oct 10th, 2020, 10:53 AM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 25,124
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Simply splendid, russ_in_LA. It took DH and me several trips to even approach what you achieved. Would you share the name of your "trulli" wonderful bnb? Great shots. and i loved the
​​​​​​
​​​​ 2 kitties on the chair.

DH and I also got a giant wow re the Pamphilj. We spied a Jansen Interceptor in their lot.
​​​​
​​​​
TDudette is online now  
Old Oct 10th, 2020, 11:03 AM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 296
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Russ,
Thanks so much for sharing these photos. We were to go to Italy this spring, for a big birthday (mine), but COVID got in the way. I'm hoping for next spring, as it will be for a big anniversary.

Your photos have been inspiring, though, and I'm missing Italy terribly!

Keep 'em coming!
Calabria62 is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2020, 12:17 PM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 7,079
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Beautiful, thanks! Paestum and Matera were two of the most interesting places we've been in Italy. We loved Puglia too.
raincitygirl is online now  
Old Oct 10th, 2020, 02:03 PM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 54,392
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
oh I really must go to Matera. Your photos and descriptions are wonderful.
annhig is online now  
Old Oct 11th, 2020, 12:05 AM
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 741
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the feedback on the posts and the photos everyone! I really appreciate it. Below are links to where we are staying currently in Puglia. The first is the house we are in and the other two are the two others that we saw, all on the same property. Of those other two, I like Melegrano the best. FYI, there is a steep stairway (shown in the photos) to access the second bedroom on Trullo Isabella. As I mentioned earlier, I like ours the best for the outdoor space and the view, but it’s not in a trullo.

https://abnb.me/l1sVd3Bwuab

https://abnb.me/MfoJiNEwuab

https://abnb.me/QiIM2DIwuab

Originally Posted by zebec View Post
Russ, IMHO this above was your best photo array thus far. And your foodic images are great visual appetizers!
Carry on, where next?

I am done. The fresh figs.
Thanks! We are heading up the Adriatic coast to Ascoli Piceno and Venice, after that working our way back to Nice for our flight home in 11 days. Final destinations TBD based on COVID and weather. It’s forecast to get colder in a couple days so I think that outdoor lunches will be “off the table“ from that point, and it will be all meals at home. Tough to do when the food here is so good!
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2020, 05:56 AM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,847
Likes: 0
Received 7 Likes on 1 Post
Wonderful photos! So enjoyed both Matera and all of the Puglia region. Interested to see Ascoli Piceno as I have not been there.
yestravel is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:33 PM.