One of the three amazing Greek Temples – in Paestum, Italy!


A great thing about our travels is the flexibility – we have a plan, sometimes we stick to it, we often adapt it and sometimes we change it completely. Our leaving Manfredonia (see Part Nine) was just such an occasion.

We’d planned to go to Gallipoli, further down the Adriatic and in the ‘heel’ of the boot of Italy. We’d read that there was quite a lot to see, the town was interesting and that there was at least one campsite open during the Winter. However, second thoughts, for a number of reasons (though mostly because it would be a particularly long drive to Sicilia which we wanted to visit. to see what it would be like for next Winter) decided us to go back across Italy to the Med coast once again, though further south than we’d been before. We ventured beyond Napoli, land of the original Pizzas!

I’d never heard of Paestum – once run by the Greeks, whose presence we were to find out is marked by three of the best-preserved temples anywhere – but it was on the way to Sicilia, sort of, and hopefully a little warmer.

The thrill of dining out – the only diners in the campsite restaurant, our table by the glorious open wood burning fire!

Well, it was warmer – but not at night time!

Camping Villaggio Dei Pini is right on the beach at Capaccio Paestum and it was such a wonderful location we stayed for about 4 or 5 weeks – so this is the first of two blogs about our time there. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, the owner, a touch stern-faced, to be honest, took our details, as well as our temperatures, and told us we could choose any available pitch.

There were three only taken and the one that we really fancied was free – bingo, we were set up in a short time and went straight the beach, but a few metres away! Idyllic just about sums it up!

In the distance, the Amalfi Coast, seen from our deserted beach!
Sunset, same beach, different angle, showing the beautiful Isle of Capri!

The following day we went to retrieve our passports from the office where we met the great young guy, Daniel, who became our friend in no time! Speaking German, Italian, English and Spanish – he’s worth his weight in gold at Villaggio Dei Pini, for that reason alone. However, that’s not all that makes him such a great guy to have at reception – he’s so friendly and willing to help. Add to this that he is a musician, playing the guitar, as well as an ex-professional footballer (having played pro footy in Uraguay, Italy and Switzerland!) and a lover all natural foods and, wait for it – wine!

He’s half German, half Uruguayan and his lovely wife is Italian – their sweet little girl, Celeste, therefore a mixture of the lot! And – when we arrived, Ana was over 8 months pregnant, so a small family about to become a little larger!

Clockwise – Claire, Celeste, Ana, Daniel, Fri and Lalla!
Bringing Paella to the land of Risotto – a small Paella Party, chez nous!

Also, we were delighted to meet Fri (pronounced Free) and Lalla – fellow travellers staying on the campsite, who were such good fun, with Fri another guitarist!

We all hit it off perfectly – one of the greatest pleasures of camping!

Claire and I were also invited to Daniel, Ana, and Celeste’s nearby apartment where we watched Daniel make homemade fresh pasta, also using Ana’s mother’s home grown and pressed tomato sauce and home grown and pressed olive oil. We chatted and played with Celeste and had a lovely time. One highlight was when I told our new friends that Claire is an Classical/Opera singer – and, I managed to convince her that she should give a little ‘taste’ of her wonderful singing.

Celeste, following the conversation, but probably expecting just a little sing song, was looking at Claire when she started on an opera aria, from memory, and seeing the little girl’s jaw drop with her eyes wide in astonishment, was priceless! Indeed, so moved was she, that she asked to leave the table and dance with beautiful balletic movement, following her year or so of ballet dancing classes. What a wonderful night!

It’s a man-thing!

Another great benefit of ‘our’ beach was the fact that, although deserted of people, there was a good amount of driftwood. This, coupled with the fact that the campsite had plenty of Pine Trees (it’s in the name!), spelt Beach Bonfire BBQ to me!

This was our first – we had several. The weather great, the wine good and the food, well my usual 5o shades of black!

We went to see the amazing temples, though Covid restrictions stopped us from visiting, but they are plainly, magnificently visible from the road. We also went to the nearby town of Agropoli on Scoots, which enabled us to climb the narrow and steep road to the deserted, but well preserved medieval castle, where we were enchanted by the occupied dwellings which surround it, many of them built at the same time!

So, we were lucky yet again – and there’s more: (don’t miss Part Eleven, where I take up a new hobby; we, inevitably, I guess, visit a winery; and when our lovely daughter Rosanna comes out to play!)

Thanks for reading!



Manfredonia, Puglia.

Looking back at the history behind Manfredonia, where we arrived after Pompei, I see that the modern town was founded in the mid-13th Century by the eponymous King Manfred. The Greeks had owned it, the Romans after them, others, then the Normans, but I cannot find any reference at all to the rumour that it was the inspiration behind the name of the ’60s Pop Group, Manfred Mann (Ha Ha Said the Clown, and more such classics!). Odd that!

We needed to hotfoot it out of of Pompei as the area was going to be re-classified as a Red zone. We’d always intended to see the Adriatic coast, so why not go to a Yellow zone there? Our journey was interesting, quite mountainous, with misty, rainy weather and a curious motorway services stop where we were the only people there apart from the pump attendant and the guy running the cafe and shop. Once sitting with a panini style lunch the mist and drizzle seemed to close in on us obscuring everything outside, causing us to wonder if we’d moved into a parallel universe, or perhaps into a ghost story!

We left sharpish!

Once near to our campsite destination the roads took a dramatic turn for the worse, causing us to wonder if it was true that Northern Italy has the lion’s share of the country’s finances. Poor Campy didn’t like them at all!

Our campsite was great, just a 25m walk to the beach which was deserted apart from an amazing collection of shells – which were really beautiful.

Our Private Beach!

There was a slight issue with wifi, which is crucial to Claire’s teaching online, of course, but having arrived at the weekend we were surprised to see that on the Monday several of the campervans had left – locals who’d been there just for the weekend. Thus we were able to change our pitch and have better internet service. One great thing about it being a sort of weekend resort was the fact that the the closed restaurant advertised takeaway pizzas on the Saturday night – it would have been rude not to have ordered one! Scrummy!

Manfredonia was quite charming – an easy Scoots ride away, a small harbour, a small castle, though not open due to Covid, a few pizzas and some shopping possibilities (oh great!). We easily found a lovely restaurant where we were made so welcome as we were trying to speak Italian which was appreciated.

The tiny harbour.
Excellent fishy starter!

Manfredonia reminded us a little of the Azores, it had that sort of ‘feel’ about it. We went again to explore a little more.

Our nearest neighbour, another campervan in the next pitch in fact was a pleasant Italian who helped us out one day when it really was raining heavily. However, he must have been cursing us later that day!

We’d put out our awning – and forgotten to take it in because of the rain. Water was gathering as we were sitting inside, oblivious to the problem. We heard some shouts, but didn’t really take notice until there was a knock on the door – which is one of those No-No’s really in camping, respecting privacy, unless there’s a problem, of course.

I leapt to my feet – well, if you’ve seen me move recently, you’ll know that’s not true, two ruptured discs in my lower back, one dodgy knee, the other largely useless have rather impacted on my leaping anywhere! So, by the time I’d reached the door, 1.5m from where I was sitting, our kind neighbour was already trying to solve the problem by lowering one of our awning support poles to make it angled so that the lakes of water that had formed simply drained away.

However, he mistimed it, just as I opened the door – to see the contents of both lakes empty themselves on his head, knocking off his glasses and completely saturating him and his clothes.

“That’ll teach him to mind his own business!” – said Claire. Err, well ok, it was me, and a joke of course, albeit a touch cruel. It’s me brother’s fault, he taught me humour!

Needless to say (when Claire had stopped laughing – err, well . . . . ) we were mortified and very apologetic, thanking him etc. The next day, I went round to his to give him a couple of beers in thanks and a further apology, only to find he doesn’t drink – bingo, great entertainment, and free too, said Claire . . . . . .

In fact it was he who also helped us by telling us that Puglia was going red the next Monday, and suggesting that it might be better if we left while we still could. I don’t think it was because of Claire’s sense of humour!

He very generously gave us a couple of litres of Toilet Cassette fluid (dunno, must be an Italian camping tradition?!) and Claire gave him the flowers I’d picked for her. I didn’t suggest he put them in water . . . . .

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

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



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!”



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!