OUR TRAVELS

PART EIGHT

Subtitle – Onwards and Upwards!

Err, well actually, downwards! Not at all in quality, excitement and adventure of course, just geographically – we move further south for Part Eight of my blog, and once again I’d like to take you with us!

There are so many places to visit in Italy, I’m sure those who’ve been would agree. The difficulty is both prioritising, and knowing that visiting one place can mean going past another without a stop! However, we are on this adventure for the long haul, so there will be time to visit at least some of the places we miss on this leg another time.

Mt Vesuvias!

High up on our list was Pompei. The eruption of 79AD, the dreadful loss of life, the few who escaped, and the subsequent discovery in modern times of the town ‘frozen’ in time, is a true story of biblical style. Plus, of course, there have been other dramatic eruptions of this, mainland Europe’s only active volcano (Etna is on the Island of Sicily, of course, and active right now as I write!).

Of course, Covid got in the way – what a couple of years we are having! Pompei was in Orange, one down from the most restrictive category, Red. We could therefore go there but it was unlikely the ruins, museum etc would be open to visit. However, given our wonderful luck thus far, we have a very positive frame of mind – so we went for it, hoping that things might improve.

As you might imagine, knowing me, there was also another attraction – the winery Bosco de Medici has vineyards on the foothills, and rising, of Mount Vesuvio itself! An e-mail, a whatsapp and a chat produced an invitation to visit!

Our host, Giuseppe!

Now, I say, Bosco de Medici Winery, accurate, but it doesn’t at all tell the whole story. It is also a resort, where there are a number of rooms, like a hotel really, a swimming pool, beautiful gardens, a riding school and something of a menagerie, boasting an exotic pig (there’ll be more now, she was pregnant then!), rabbits, birds, peacocks and more. There’s a small electric train that takes visitors on a tour and there are also 200+year old buildings being restored, adding to the marvelous vista that is Bosco de Medici.

The Bosco de Medici Resort’s thriving riding school.

Plus, it is literally adjacent to the start of those ancient ruins – we could only see a small part, but were nevertheless in awe. Well, it is an awesome place!

Volcanic soil resting on, and born of, lava flows from eruptions over milennia now home to Bosco de Medici vineyards and the path that leads to majestic Mt. Vesuvio itself!

And what about the wines, I hear you all shout?! Well, as I’ve said this is a travel blog, and it’s not my intention to give chapter and verse about the wines we discover, wineries we visit etc here. Such stuff can, of course be seen on my Facebook account, including the link to my Valley FM Wine Show, broadcast last Saturday 3rd April, which is devoted exclusively to Bosco de Medici.

However, if you’ll indulge me just a second or so longer, I will say that the wines, particularly their white mineral influenced examples are extraordinarily good. They can be bought online – mention my name, I won’t receive any commission, of course, but it would be nice for them to know that their generosity has been rewarded a little, at least!

Down to business – I’m not on holiday all the time you know!

Strewth, more work!
Homework too!

We’d asked if we might be able to stay overnight in Campy, as you know we seem to be making a habit of this! Of course, they accepted with alacrity, going the extra mile too, by offering us the use of one of their rooms as well for showers, electricity and the loo!

One of the charming rooms at Bosco de Medici. When next visiting the Amalfi Coast, this is where you need to stay!

Plus we also had the tour, mentioned above, and a glorious tasting, with some wines to take away, so I could film one or two Wine Reviews on Video in the weeks that were to follow! What a fantastic time, once again – but, unfortunately short-lived. We heard that the area was just about to go into Red – we had to escape!

“Early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn.

Well, I really have enjoyed my stay, but I must be moving on!”

OUR TRAVELS!

PART SEVEN

We’d always wanted to try further south in Italy, we’d heard quite a lot about it but never visited much further south than Rome.

Hmm, Rome – now there was an idea! We’ve been before, of course – once on one of our three honeymoons, this, in fact before we were married, but hey, you don’t need to share that! We think Rome is magnificent – every corner you turn there’s some staggering beauty, amazing architecture and so much history too.

Also, Pompei, where we were desperate to visit was too long a journey in one go, well for people who aren’t in a hurry, and Rome was sort of on the way. Done!

What we didn’t realise was that, unlike London, Paris and more capital cities, no doubt, it only needs a 15 mins train journey out of the centre and you are suddenly in the countryside – no sprawling urban landscapes, lovely green fields and, actually, sports facilities too.

We found this out by lucky coincidence – our camping book told us of Flamino Village Bungalow Park – Campground, bragging a 15 mins simple train journey from the nearby station to the centre, to Piazza del Popolo in fact. We couldn’t imagine it, wondering how it could be that a campsite was stuck in the middle of such an expanding city. We didn’t know that we had struck gold again!

This huge camping and mobile home/bungalow facility must be very well populated in the summer months (too much, perhaps?) – of a normal year – because of its location and its beauty too. In February there were just two other campervans, and only for a short time during our stay, so we enjoyed almost complete privacy. There are very many mobile homes, some very elegant, and some of these were occupied, by young sports people using the impressive adjacent facilities as well as, by the looks of it, business people, some military/police personnel, aircrew etc.

It was very quiet and peaceful but there were apparently sufficient clients for the campsite restaurant to remain open – wow, this was a real bonus for us, as we, in common with most of the world, hadn’t been able to go to a restaurant proper for quite a while! Plus, for an ex-PE Teacher/sportsman/footy coach like myself it was a real delight to see tennis and padel games being played as well as some coaching for some kids’ football teams, of which I’ve done rather a lot in my time! Also the Zumba/Pilates music blaring out was, mostly, appreciated!

The weather was excellent, tracky bottoms off, shorts on for the first time for our lovely walks around the perimeter.

Although open for the winter there weren’t sufficient actual campers to justify opening the shower/loo block – which in fact worked to our advantage. They gave us the keys to one of the nearby mobile homes which were were able to use for hot showers and the loo, too!

Claire had plenty of work to do so we made sure she was settled with her wifi needs for her online teaching before we ventured into the centre of Rome! As I’ve said we loved it, the history, beauty etc, plus, although in many ways it’s very sad, Rome was very quiet – bet you’ve never seen that before! So, moving about was easy, and not at all Covid dangerous – there were police and army stationed all over the place. Social distancing was in place, masks were worn by all, sanitizers stationed all over and so on. Restaurants were open for lunch and we enjoyed the Roman version of Spaghetti Carbonara, plus a chilled white wine as well.

I needed to film a Thirsty Thursday Wine Review on Video and we decided to do so the next day, or so, at the famous Trevi Fountain – what a beautiful location and well appreciated as there were eventually approaching 900 views on the three social media platforms I use! I talked about a Chateauneuf-du-Pape red on the video, from Domaine La Célestière. I sent the link to our new friends Neil and Beatrice, co-owners of Domaines Dalmeran & La Célestière (see below) and he commented that perhaps it would have been interesting to have tasted their wine outside the Vatican – dear me, we hadn’t thought of that! Bringing Chateauneuf-du-Pape back to the ‘new’ home of the Popes!

Of course, I’m not sure how well that would have gone down (very well in terms of my tasting!) with the authorities as we’d encountered a little bit of polite and pleasant, though obligatory ‘move along please’ from the Carabinieri when we’d sat on the side of the beautiful fountain to film – it isn’t allowed. It was ok a little higher up though – you can see the video on my Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/100009478376720/videos/2931164940542756/

We chatted about it the next day and thought that maybe we should go and see St. Peter’s Cathedral, Neil having mentioned the Vatican, at least from the outside as we expected it to be closed. However, we were amazed to see that in fact we were able to enter this stunningly beautiful, quite amazing cathedral and wonder at how it was constructed and decorated. Religious or not, it’s exquisite and quite takes your breath away – plus, there was no fee to enter. Amazing.

Another real highlight on our brilliant journey!

“Early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn.

Well I really have enjoyed my stay, but I must be moving on.”

Supertramp, and our mantra!