Thursday, October 16, 2014


Our leased Citroen took us 4,200 miles
We had to return our leased car at the airport in Rome since the limit on the lease is 5 and 1/2 months. While there, we picked up a rental car as we had 10 more days to go. During the transition, we stayed at a beautiful old villa above the town of Frascati.
Park Hotel Villa Grazioli 

Our hotel in Marina di Grosseto
From there we drove north. We had never been along the stretch of coastline that runs north of Civitavecchia and is known as the Maremma Region.  It is an extensive area bordering the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Sea and covering parts of northern Lazio and southwest Tuscany. 

Our apartment in Castiglione della Pescaia
Maremma is a very popular summer destination with the Italians.  Europeans have begun to discover it but it is largely unknown to Americans.  We stayed in two very nice beach towns. Being October, the tourists had gone home and the first, Marina di Grosseto, was like a ghost town.  But the hotel we stayed in was modern and had a beautiful pool and spa area.  The next stop, Castiglione della Pescaia, was originally a medieval fortress but today it is an attractive modern city with a large marina and long stretch of sandy beaches. The big attraction for us though was a charming apartment with a washer and dryer.  Ron finally had a reprieve from washing all our clothes by hand.

One of Tarquinia's city gates
Tarquinia's ancient city walls
Tarquinia is churches & towers
We had another nice apartment in Tarquinia, a city a few miles inland from the coast.   The main street through the town divides the old city and the new -- the old being medieval and the new one from the Renaissance period. Both are encircled by walls that are 8 kilometers long and date from the 4th century. 
Santa Maria In Castello 1435

Tarquinia is one of the most ancient of Etruscan centers and has a myriad of streets and alleys to wander. There are 20 towers within the gates and many churches. Paintings adorned the walls and ceilings of the early Roman church as most people were illiterate and the illustrations told the story of Christianity.  Some of the art work has been restored.  

Just outside the city gates is a necropolis where the tombs of people from the Etruscan period were first discovered during the Renaissance. Only the aristocracy could afford to have tombs built and painted, and some of the wall paintings have survived to this day.  Cement containers from as early as the 11th century BC can also be seen at this site.  Cremated remains were placed in urns and then put inside the containers.  

We returned our rental car in Civitavecchia and will board the Celebrity Reflection here on October 17.  At that point, we will have spent 6 months and 6 days in Europe and another month at sea sailing over and sailing back.  We covered a total of 4,500 miles between Italy, Croatia and Austria and stayed in 50 different places.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014


The harbor in Marina di Camerota
From Puglia, we drove across the lower part of Italy and over several mountain ranges to reach the west coast of Italy.  First stop was the little town of Marina di Camerota situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Our hotel overlooked the harbor from whence many Italians 
Church in heart of Marina di Camerota
emigrated to South America in the 19th century.  It was a very typical Italian town where older men gather in front of a little bar or along the waterfront playing cards or just talking.  They are obviously retired and I imagine the wife sends them out in the morning with orders not to return before mealtime. 
Agropoli's feudal castle
Continuing north along the coast, we visited two different areas about 60 miles south of Naples that were settled by the Greeks in the 7th century B.C.  The first town was Agropoli, the name is a version of the word acropolis meaning high town.  It is situated on a promontory that curves around a bay.  It was a good trading point for the Greeks so they settled here and built a temple dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting. Later, the Byzantines took over and built a castle on top of the promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Burial walls
A much larger Greek settlement developed slightly north of Agropoli in 625 B.C.  The Greek name was Poseidonia in honor of the god of the sea; the Italians later changed the name to Paestum.  Control of the city changed hands several times over the centuries, but the Romans eventually won possession and added a forum, amphitheater and housing.  
Temple of Athena 500BC

Temple of Hera 550BC
The ruins at Paestum are magnificent. There are three Greek temples in all. Surrounding them are the foundations of homes where people lived during the Roman era.

Although it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Paestum is not as well known as other ancient ruins in the general area. Consequently, the area is not overrun with tourists.  There were hardly any on the late September day we visited.  The adjacent museum houses countless artifacts including many of the walls of burial sites.  The custom was to paint the interior of the walls surrounding the tomb with pictures that depicted the dead man's life -- or the life he wished he had lived. Women were not granted the same honor.

Then (2nd Temple of Hera)
The original Greek buildings were decorated and very colorful. Over the years, the colors have faded and disappeared from the exterior buildings. Paintings that were protected (as in the enclosed burial chambers) have been remarkably well preserved.
Foundations of Roman buildings

Our hotel in Meta
While visiting Paestum we stayed at a lovely hotel with a private beach.  Then it was on to Meta, a little town just a few miles from Sorrento.  As is often the case, finding our hotel was an adventure that took us up and down and around very narrow, one way, curving streets.  Finally, a kind young man scouted out Laqua for us on his motor scooter, came back and led us there.  I am afraid we would still be turning in circles if it weren't for him. 
Historic center of Sorrento
Our balcony at Laqua

Sunsets in Meta

Lacqua is a miniature hotel and spa; only 6 rooms.  But each has a private balcony with a little pool overlooking the sea. We took the bus to Sorrento one day even though we have been there several times.  The streets were crowded with tourists and we were glad to get back to our idyllic lodging where the sunsets were magnificent.