Hello again and welcome to Part Eleven of our Travels. Regular readers will know that I’ve done a sterling job in fast-forwarding this blog to the present time! Well, not quite, but I was nearly there as Part Ten below suggests. However, the nature of this travel lark is that there is always something happening. For example, I’m writing this in Benimarco, Valencia, Spain, whilst staying at our great friends, Ros and Mick’s wonderful finca! Long story – but that’s a story for a later date!

Part Eleven is about the, roughly, second half of our long stay in Paestum, which we absolutely loved and to which we will return – in fact on our way down to Sicilia later in the year. Told you, there’s always something happening, about to happen or going to happen at some time!

The greatest part of a fantastic time in the ancient, once Greek owned, part of Campania, was the arrival of our daughter, Rosanna! She’d been working like mad on her GCSEs in the UK with her Papa and Stepmum, under the strict lockdown regime near York. She needed a break, in the sunshine – and we needed to see her, having last set eyes on her at the end of December! So, with Covid 19 PCR test, negative of course, and lots of other papers she left from Stanstead mid-April. We left our beachside camping site in Paestum the night before we collected her, returning to Pompei for the night, and thence to Napoli, whose airport was perfect for us.

Remember, Campi is 7.4 metres long – were we going to be able to park her, if so where? Clueless, the internet was no help, we arrived in good time and approached the Arrivals area, whereupon a huge soldier, machine gun at the ready, with his colleague, similarly scary and armed, looking on. I smiled, but could he see behind my mask? No worries, Claire’s infinite charm disarmed the guy completely and he pointed (not with his gun) us to a parking area. Phew – and then we found to our further delight, a cafe which was allowed to be open!

We weren’t allowed in the airport, despite our being best mates now with the army, several others of whom were constantly patrolling, so we messaged Rosanna to simply exit when she could, and join us for a coffee! It was wonderful to see her again, looking so lovely, smiley, confident and all ‘growed up’! Now, I’m from the north and we don’t do gushing emotion, but . . . . .

It was quite a long drive in one go back to Paestum, but it took us past Vesuvio and the Bay of Napoli, which weren’t bad for Rosanna’s first sights of this area, the furthest south she’s been in Italy. An early night after dinner, wine (ok not so much for Ro, but we belong to the French school of thought re bringing up youngsters with a healthy respect for alcohol, so she often has a taste) and lots of chatting. The next day – her first Beach Bonfire BBQ (almost the perfect alliteration)!

Sausages with a difference, meaty with fennel seeds as well!

But, I’m running away with myself – I need to step back a little to April 2021 BR (before Rosanna!), in other words a week or so before she came. In fact to another of the loves of my life – a winery visit (known in Italian as a Cantina, a word that doesn’t seem to have the same cachet as bodega/chateau/domaine, even winery).

This beautiful ‘candelabra’ descends from the ceiling allowing visitors to select a glass for tastings at
I Vini del Cavaliere, Capaccio, Campania. (www.vinicuomo.com)

Catarina was most welcoming when Claire and I arrived on Scoots at their lovely boutique cantina (winery – pay attention, willya!), I Vini del Cavaliere, in Capaccio, 15 mins away from our campsite. As you know, it’s not my intention to quote chapter and verse about all the wineries and wines that we experience on our travels in this blog. Wine is a big passion of mine, Claire’s too, so it’s bound to be a part of our travels – but not all readers share the passion (indeed, some might say obsession!).

For further details of the visits, wines etc please refer the Colin Harkness Wine Review on Video (posted on Facebook Colin Harkness); Twitter (@colinonwine); Instagram (colinharkness53); my monthly Wine Show www.valleyfm.es 12:00 – 13:00 hrs, first Saturday of every month *[next Wine Show Sat 5th June]); as well as my regular posts on the above platforms. This of course also applies to our visit to I Vini del Cavaliere and the glorious wines tasted there, and later back at Campy.

That said, a word about them would not go amiss – we loved our time there, Catarina and Giovanni were such genial hosts and, perhaps needless to say, their wines were outstanding. Plus, they are now open again for visits – which really is a must-do when in Campania (where, of course, you’ll find, only a few kilometres further north of Capaccio, the fabulous Amalfi Coast)! You can contact them here www.vinicuomo.com.

Now back to April 2021 ARA (After Rosanna Arrived!) – we showed her the magnificent Greek Temples in Paestum (photo in Part Ten, below), of course, and we were all delighted to visit a buffalo farm just around the corner from our campsite, where we bought and really enjoyed, some of their delicious fresh Mozzarella cheese and some of their hard cheese too.

We also took the train to Napoli – my strong advice: don’t ever drive in Naples! Three on a scooter, helmets optional, was common. Once or twice four, including one time when it was presumably, Mum, Dad and two kids, one of whom had a helmet on! Also there don’t seem to be any rules, re stopping at lights, coming out of a side road, going around a roundabout and so on. It’s a free-for-all, with horns blowing, fists waving, shouting and muttering, plus, unsurprisingly, the sound of ambulance sirens and the occasional police siren too!

The peace of the railway station before the storm of Naples!
A lion (on the right!) guarding the Cathedral of Naples – sadly closed!

Now, as promised – Col takes up a new hobby!

My brother, Al, was, is and always be better than me at all sports! Simple fact of life, though it wasn’t so easy to accept when we were younger. I did ok in sports in the end and I’m sure that reaching the standard I did was mostly the result of trying my best to beat him at everything, losing always, but learning as did so. Of course, this is my opinion now – I wasn’t so sanguine, so relaxed back in the day.

Let me introduce you to Rodney! He and I will bee reeling them in soon!

So, I decided to take up fishing – Al didn’t fish, so I wouldn’t be hammered by him catching more than me etc. I’m quite sure that if he had taken it up, he would have battered me (pun intended!). However, there wasn’t enough movement for me, it wasn’t a game so I stopped, returning to the badminton court, golf course, tennis court, swimming pool and so on, for the inevitable defeat. Playing in the same footy team was a delight, we were on the same side (guess who scored most goals though!), so too was our doubles pairing in badminton – same reason.

However, the fishing ‘bug’ has perhaps always been part of me, though dormant, until we set off on our travels. As we are often parked in campsites next to the sea, and as you know we sometimes have BBBBQs, it seemed to me that catching our own lunch/dinner would be pretty cool! I mooted the thought to Claire, who was all for it – and promptly bought me Rodney, tackle and stuff!

OK, so Claire was all for me fishing, she quite fancied a sea bream or two BBQd, washed down with a good glass of white Italian wine – but she wasn’t too keen on worms! Here she is carrying the bucket containing the bait!

Needless to say – I caught ‘nowt’ on my first attempts (Al would have caught a dozen no doubt!), but I know that the fish in Italy will be trembling once again soon!

Photo courtesy of Rosanna!

We weren’t sure how long Rosanna would be able to stay, so we wanted her to see a few more of the many wonderful sights in this part of Italy. We decided to go to Pompei for a short while, thence to Roma!

Claire and Rosanna in the Forum of the ruins of Pompei. If you haven’t been to see this ancient town, obliterated as it was in AD 79 when Vesuvio (in the background) erupted, you really must!

Those who’ve been know that Pompei is something else. One cannot imagine the anguish, suffering etc of the poor people, and their animals, who lived in this bustling Roman town. The speed with which the town was covered, firstly in ash, and then in the rivers of lava is something of Hollywood epic proportions – except that this was real!

Part of the ruined city of Pompei, just as it was on that fateful day.

We were all taken aback, particularly when we witnessed the bodies of some of the unfortunates, killed where they were, caught in exactly the same position too. Awe inspiring, eerie, moving and mysterious.

Fast food joint, as was, AD79! Complete with amforae where the food would have been kept warm, and in the background amforae for supplies – oil, wine, water and more.

However – and I’ll be in trouble for writing this – it wasn’t just Pompei’s ruins that took Rosanna’s breath away. Giuseppe, the cool, young Italian guy from whom we hired the audio equipment more than caught her eye! Like all dads and steppies, this is something I’m going to have to get used to!

Well, that’s Part Eleven completed – hope you enjoyed the catch-up. All comments welcome, but please e-mail them to colinharkness53@gmail.com, or post on Facebook, Colin Harkness, Twitter @colinonwine, Instagram colinharkness53.