June 15, 2002 GMT
Italy Tour in A Nutshell

This goes together with the Motorcycling Italy entry. Contains more what to see and do rather than riding info.

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We've become accustomed to sleeping in our beds again instead of the sleeping bags. A hard adjustment but where there is a will...!

Italy was fabulous, Milano great food, great shopping, nice little boutique hotel in the heart of the city for only 130 euro a night (six nights of camping!).

Palermo in Sicily was one of our favorite places. The area around Perugia where we camped for three nights on the shores of Lake Trasimeno was also very nice...good sights (Siena, Perugia, Assisi), food, and people. The East Coast was also nice but I think at the height of the tourist season it would be a bit too crowded. We made our way down from Perugia through Spoleto, Terni, Rieti over to Pescara where we started on the East Coast. We met a foursome from England as we were hesitating on the restaurant we had stopped at for lunch and they said they had eaten here yesterday and were back for more so we sat down and had a great lunch. They said that Pescara was as far south as Ryan Air flies for 30 pounds a head so they all came down for a week. Nice beaches and no one around until late July....!

Further south, we rode along the spur of Italy, the Gargano Penninsula and what a breath-taking ride of color. It was like riding through someone's flower bed and orchard...all the flowers seem to be blooming and the olive tress and fruit trees were all heavy with fruit, the sea was beautiful and deserted, we would be driving along see a beach stop for a swim have a bite to eat sun ourselves dry then continue...horrible!

Bari was not as bad as it could have been but it was our first stop in the South and it took us a bit by suprise how different things were. Haven't been to S. America or Mexico but felt like we were there with the shops all closed between 1 and 4 or 5 pm, the craziest drivers, and the polluted environment. We did have a great time at the opening ceremony for the Feast of St. Nicola, the patron saint of Bari.

From Bari, we stopped to see the Trulli community at Alberobello, touristy but nice to see, and then all the way down to Reggio to catch the ferry across to Sicily. We did visit Taormina, THE PLACE TO BE, when vacationing in Sicily, perched high atop a rocky mountain that over-looks the Ionian Sea to one side and Mt. Etna to the other. We then made our way down close to Augusta and camped there for a few days and saw ruins in the area and Syracuse. The Greek and Roman ruins of Sicily are supposed to be the best in the world. We saw many and of them all we liked the Villa Romana near Piazza Armerina and the ruins at Agrigento. We saw more but would say if you see these, together with the ruins of Paestum south of Solerno, Pompei and Hadrian's Villa Adriana outside of Rome, you get the full impression of what has been left of Greek and Roman architecture.

Napoli was another place, like Palermo, where we could have easily stayed longer and look forward to returning to again. The city is alive and bustling and the cities of the Almalfi Coast (Positano, Ravello, Sorrento) are all within easy driving distance. The one place we visited we give a huge thumbs down to is Capri. Touristy, touristy, touristy doesn't begin to describe this day trip. We left fairly quickly.

In Rome, we awoke early and rode into all the parts of the city that are full of tourists most of the day and enjoyed the early morning stillness of the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Nouvara, the Pantheon, and the ruins near Palantine Hill.
That is the tour in a nutshell...without any mention of the fabulous cathedrals with their mosaics and relics, a quaint Capuchin abbey, Gibilmanna, with a wonderful museum and 8 monks, and the great variety of local wines we enjoyed.

Posted by Tracy Wondergem at June 15, 2002 08:01 AM GMT
 


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