Published: April 19th 2012April 19th 2012
Vacation in Southern Italian Regions of
Calabria and Puglia (heel & foot) - 2012
This is our fith visit to the region of Puglia
and we have been to Calabria
, many more times. Two of the previous trips have also been written up on this travelblog. This trip retraces many of our favourite places from the previous trips and adds a few different locations and insights.
Our last two trips were in the fall. This time we were going early April to early May
for 3 weeks. Direct charter flights from Toronto to our usual places in the south have disappeared. In their place, Alitalia now offers more stops in the deep south, with one difference. The flights all go to Rome and then you must connect .
We decided to do two differnt things this time. One was to fly business class andsecond was to fly directly to Puglia
and therefore not waste any days getting there. We were able to get a connecting flight from Rome to Brindisi
as part of the package. We looked after getting our own rental car. April 12 & April 13, 2012 Toronto to Rome to Brindisi and to Cursi
The business class flight was a real eye opener as to how the other 1 or 2% really live. The executive lounge had a cornocupia of everything possible and all free from every alcholic beverage, to hot food, computers, newspapers. You just helped yourself!
The best part was the flight. There were 3 stewardesses for about 10 passengers and they were constantly handing out things. Finally the main reason why we splurged on business class --- the plush seats that convert to beds! This was really worth the cost!
The connection went fairly well and the flight from Rome to Brindisi was less than an hour. Our Fiat Bravo
was ready for pickup but since we had been switched from Budget to Avis the price was a lot higher (see more at the end of the blog) There was a light drizzle as we left the airport.
From the airport we were less than 80 km to B&B DonnaGiulia
or firstname.lastname@example.org in Cursi
(20 minutes south of Lecce) , where we had met Ada Moscara
her family 2 years ago.
This was one of the places in Puglia that we wanted to return to and spend more time. The only negative was that it was raining (Salento, the southern part of Puglia is mostly a desert!) and it was cold (how cold? --- how about 13C)
After umpteen times of driving throughout Italy with only a road map and constantly stopping to ask directions, I decided to go high tec and purhased a Europe road map for my GPS
. On the first day, it did a great job of getting us out of Brindisi, around Lecce and right to B&B DonnaGulia.
We arrived early and since Ada was at work her mother and father started to feed us (we had met them both 2 years ago as well.) Before long there were 9 people at the table (kids home from school for lunch, including cousins!) After an hours rest we walked around the town and bought a few food items. Joe's best:
The first class service and finally being back in Puglia Carol's best:
The first class flight and service Saturday April 14, in Cursi
We had a pretty good sleep. I was in bed for about 11 hours (my usual is 6-7). We woke up to a slightly cloudy day but soon the sun was shinning. Ada prepared the usual (but rare in Italy and Europe) breakfast of eggs and bacon!
After breakfast we grabbed a few groceries from a panetaria and a few doors down I got my haircut.
When ever I travel I always like to visit a local barber in a small town to do my hair. Great deal today as he did not use any electric razors (scissors and comb only) and all for 7 Euros!
We then drove about 8 km away to the town of Coriglano d'Otranto
to see the Castel d'Monte
built around 600 years ago. The castle was closed but we were able to get into some of it and walk around the outside. This is one huge fortress that was recently taken over by the town. Even more interesting to walk around, was their town square which was lined with rows and rows of shade trees. Ver nice! We also stopped in to a small shop and
had a great lunch.
Our next visit was to the town of Poggiardo
. Only reason for going there was that a friend of my family was born there. By the time we arrived it was starting to drizzle so we decided to head home and make some good old fashinoned "Canadian coffee!" It continued to rain, so we stayed indoors and tried to rearrange all of our suit case items. Joe's Best
- Getting my hair cut and touring Corigliano d'Otranto. Carol's Best
- Nothing Sunday April 15
This morning Carol worked in the kitchen with Ada to show her how to make pancakes
(unheard of here.) Ada likes to serve North American style breakfasts
so we brought her a can of real Canadian Maple Syrup
. The pancakes turned out really well and her husband, sister and kids tried them out but most of them selected to put Nutella on them rather than try out our syrup!!
After breakfast Ada took us out to their summer place (see blog of 2011) where we got to see what was growing in the spring time versus the
fall before. She and her father picked a large bouqet of flowers for us as well as a basket of fava beans and also gave us a bottle of home made wine!
For lunch Ada made a reservation for us at a place just outside of Cursi at Riccommagio Locanda
on Via E. Montale. We had a sumptuous lunch of antipasto and fish and pasta and a whole bottle of wine. We had to keep saying "basta" enough!
Afterwards the owner's son took us around the property showing us all of the things that they grown and picked a bag of fresh lemons (huge) and oranges for us! We then went for a gorgeous long walk along the country road. As Carol said, this walk was something you'd like to package and take home! Joe's best
: the visit to Ada's country property and the lunch Carol's best
: the gifts received from Ada and the walk in the country Monday April 16
Around noon today we drove up to Lecce (about 20 km north) to shop at the E. Leclerc
mall. We had been there a few years
ago and Carol wanted to do some shopping. It is a moden mall just like any that you would find in a small city in Canada.
The E.Leclerc store is the main anchor and it is a bit like our Wal-Mart in that it carries everything. Carol did not find too much but we did stock up on groceries (aka beer, wine and water!!) While we were there we could hear thunder outside and heavy rain falling. We stopped to have a coffee and ice cream and by the time we were done the sun was shinnning.
I had been excited about going to the mall because of the free wifi. No such luck. It is free through out the mall but you have to register and then they send you an sms message on your cell phone with the login and password. I guess they have a lot of catching up to do compared to our "free" wifi sites in North America. Joe's Bes
t - Nothing Carol's Best
- shopping Monday April 17
Ada had to work this morning so she sent us to Bar Prosit
for breakfast. We had cappucino and a sweet bread! At 9:30 Ada's husband Salvatore
picked us up and gave us a tour of the Leccese Stone quarry
Leccese stone is shipped around the world and used for buildings, fountains, arches, columns, floors, sideboards, tables, counters and many other things.
Salvatore is the superintendent of the local quarry and took us into the pit to see the stones being sliced horizontally and vertically into different sizes. They are then sent to other locations (which we visited) and sliced further or by the use of computerized machines different designs are carved into the stones.
Then they are shipped to different countries of the world. It is the main industry in the area and as a quarry is depleted, a new one is started somewhere else. The current quarry has a 3-4 year life span before it will be reclaimed. I don't imagine many people get this kind of tour! It was both educational and interesting.
After lunch wer drove over to Torro del Orso
on the Adriatic. I guess this has become our favorite little beach in Italy
. This was our fourth visit.
We were the ONLY ones on the beach.
It was sunny but windy and cold so we found a place out of the wind and sunbathed! We never got to see our friend Gino at the fruit and vegetable stand this year.
The TOWER (Torre) from the 16th century is very beautiful and scenic from the beach below. Now a two story condominium is going up behind it and spoiling the view from the beach. How unfortunate.
If you live in Ontario, you will be familiar with Wasaga Beach
and what it is like in July and August. Torre del Orso is the same. At this time of year there are hundreds of empty summer homes. We were told that some of the rental places (with 6-8) beds go for as much $8 000.00 a week in August!!
We stopped in for a cappucino and then headed 15 km south to Alimini Beach
where we had spent an afternoon two years ago. It was high tide and there was not much beach and by this time it was getting windy. With the help of our GPS (and I stress
HELP - and not complete dependance) we returned to Cursi via some back roads!
We had time for a few glasses of wine on the roof top of the B&B before we headed out to buy our host Ada and her mother a flowering plant as a thank you. At the florist we got into a long political discussion with the owner and his mother about politics in Italy! We stopped off to get some supper food and the owner gave us a couple of free olive, tomato buns. Very nice! Joe's Best
- Tour of the quarry and return visit to Torre del Orso Carol's Best
- same PLUS wine on the roof top! Wednesday April 18 in Felline
At breakfast this morning Ada gave us another bottle of wine, a jar of preserves and two carved figurenes made from Lecce stone. We really hated to leave!
We worked our way to the coast, using the GPS to guide us through the rabbit warren of streets. It was far from perfect but it did help a lot. Two out of 3 b&b's I had selected
were not open. A third we did not like the looks of. We stopped for a highway robbery lunch of a salad, two plates of (what tasted like) canned spaghetti and a bottle of water for the equivelant of $35.00!
We worked our way to B&B Dolce Felline http://www.dolcefelline.com
(or email@example.com) in Felline. We met the owner, Olga Pantevec, who has taken over as presdident of the GirandolaPuglia B&B
organiztion from Ada http://www.girandolapuglia.com
Olga is Serbian but speaks very good English (and of course Italian). She invited us to try a glass of their wiine. I also learned that they had wifi available so after six days I was connected again!
We are travelling out of season so Olga spent an hour or so preparing our room. In the meantime we roamed the town of Felline. We have a very nice room which opens on a nice patio. The home is surrounded by trees and flowering shrubs. Never thought we would say this, but how grateful we are that we have a stand alone heater
in the room.
For supper we went to the Antico Monastero Trattoria http://www.anticomonastero.com.
We ordered ONE antipasto and got 15 different items. Even with a litre of water and a coffee the bill came to only 20 Euros. We thought this was one of the best meals we have had in Europe
and certainly one of the most reasonably priced. Joe's Best
- Discovering B&B Donna Felline and the supper Carol's Best
- Meeting Olga and supper Thursday April 19
This morning Olga brought tray fulls of food for breakfast right to our room! Lots of variety and real tasty. After breakfast we set off for a leisurely drive along the coast, south to the tip of Santa Maria di Leuca
. This was our third time along this route
so we revisited old familar beaches (cold and windy) and took our time exploring.
The waves from the Adriatic/Ionian Seas crashing on the rocks/cliffs of Leuca were really spectacular
. When we got back we had a long talk with Olga out on the patio. After a week, it was nice having another English speaking person to speak to. There was no question as to where we would go for supper. We returned to Antico Monastero
Santa Severina - castle
Trattoria and had exactly the same meal! Joe's Best
- revisiting familar beaches and towns Carol's Bes
t - Watching the pounding and power of the waves at Santa Maria di Leuca Friday April 20 in Casalini (suburb of Cisternino)
When I woke up this morning and turned on the wifi my mailbox and facebook sites were full of birthday greetings. Olga brought us another big breakfast and told us to save a little room for a surprise. Well I really was surprised.
I guess from my passport she learned that it was my bithday today so she presented me with a special award winning wine
(locally produced) and a special "smiley cake"
produced with local products from a pastry chef who plans on entering it in a pastry show next month! Wow! How much more can you expect from a total stranger in a foreign country!? Pretty Nice!
We then started the long trip north passing through many towns and often making the wrong turn but our GPS patiently guided us back! We arrived in the village of Casalini
) at B&B Antica Aia www.anticaaia.it
early afternoon and Elvira and son Andrea
were waiting for us.
This time we were given the only Trulli room that had heat!
Not as big as the last one but it still consists of two gorgeous well appointed rooms. Andrea brought me a bowl of almonds and walnuts (he remembered that I had picked some last time while jogging) and Elvira welcomed us with coffee.
has been working on building a swimming poo
l and unfortuantely we are about a month too early to try it out. As I mentioned in previous visit/blog entry, B&B Antica Aia is a little bit of paradise with a view to match!
Late that night, Elvira brought us a hot plate of asparagus frittata.
That was great because even though we had planned on dining out, we were tired and cold
and had decided to "eat in." Joe's Best
- Arriving back at Antica Aia Carol's Best
- Talking with Olga and warm welcome from Elvira Saturday April 21
Elvira brought breakfast right to our room this morning and
included HOT coffee! After breakfast we decided to go into the nearby town of Cisternino
for our groceries.
Being a Saturday morn, there was NO parking anywhere and after a while we gave up, came back to Casalini and bought our groceries here.
The day wasn't too bad so we were able to sit outside and get a bit of sun. Late afternoon we went for a walk along the back roads from antica aia and got to see some almonds on trees (still green) and a few donkeys and lots of interesting walls (all of stone)
In the evening we went to La Locanda
) for supper. We had eaten there before and tried to eat there last time but they were closed. We ordered the antipasto for two and that was a big mistake. Antipasto for one would have been more than enough. We ended up leaving half of it (at least 15 different plates!) Not as good as the one in Felline but still pretty good. Joe's Best
- Walk along the back roads Carol's Bes
t - same Sunday April 22
This morning after breakfast we decided to tour Locorotondo
again. Lost track of the number of times that we have walked through this small town. We consider it the prettiest town that we have ever come across in Italy.
Had a brief lunch there and then returned to our b&b as it was a really gorgeous sunny day. Both going and coming we missed some turns but decided to let our GPS guide us.
Honestly, most of the time the roads were so narrow that two cyclists meeting would have had to slow down -- and these were two way roads! But our faithful Gladys (aka GPS) managed to get us back to the main road.
Spent the afternoon at our b&b just lounging and sun bathing. I finally got our my sandals and shorts!
While relaxing Elvira showed us an album of what the trullis (cone shapped buildings) used to look like before her husband Franco began a 10 year restoration project
. Unbelievable what they have accomplished. This year they completed a pool and the landscaping was going on while we were here. We finished our almonds and
walnuts so Andrea brought us another bowl full! This is truly a mini paradise!
We decided we had eaten too much so we ate in again tonight after taking another long walk through the town of Casalini Joe's Best
- Locorotondo and the back roads of the Itri Valley Carol's Best
- Soaking in the sun at our b&b Monday April 23
After breakfast we returned to Cisternino (4 km away) where there was a market going on. Many streets filled with vendors selling clothes and food. We bought a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese and at a store bought about 5 items that were heated and placed in styrafoam containers for our lunch.
I also found a bank machine and withdrew scads of Euros (FYI at 1.345 to CDN$) Also put in 20 Euros of diesel in the car (at Euro 1.76 per litre or about CDN$2.35 per litre.)
The afternoon turned out to be windy and cold! Unlike yesterday we stayed indoors for a while and then bundled up and went for a walk. Felt a
lot better after getting emails from back home indicating the whole eastern seaboard (and Ontario) were experiencing wet snow falls and pretty cold temperatures.
We decided to eat in again tonight (we bought so much food at the market.) Just as we were finishing up, Franco knocked on our door inviting us for dinner
at 8pm! I guess he was surprised that we had already eaten since it is rare over here to begin before 8pm. We had to decline! He promised that the next time we were there, they would invite us on our arrival! Hold that thought Franco because it won't be long before we return! Joe's Best
- Nothing today Carol's Best
- lunch food (chicken especially) and the market. Tuesday April 24 in Santa Severina, Calabria
It was another sad good bye as we left Elvira and Franco and kids and Andrea and Martina at Antica Aia. We reconfirmed that the Itri Valley (and Salento)
are our two favorite regions in Italy and Antica Aia the best place by far to spend a relaxing time.
a long drive of over 300 km to our next destination. We spent a lot of time getting through the city of Martina Franca
and then found ourselves on a back road towards Taranto
. That was fortunate because it was very scenic and had very little traffic.Near Taranto we picked up a 4 lane and for the next hour or so made pretty good time.
It seemed that as soon as we entered Calabria
the temperature changed. After 10 days of highs of only 19, we hit 22 and later in the day 24 with a clear blue sky. This is the fourth time t
hat we have driven this route along the Ionian sea
and for most the way the highway hugs the coast with some very nice views. There are only a few towns on the route so you can make pretty good time if so inclined.
We stopped at a large roadside Tavolo Calda
(with cafeteria style hot foods) and had lunch. For the second time Carol got to eat her beloved chicken!
We found, and called in at La Corte del Angelo Agriturismo
that we had stayed in
Cows heading home
two years and really got along with Angela. The gates were locked and we were out of luck.
In trying to save some time I over ruled our GPS and decided on a different route to get to Santa Severina
, our next stop. According to the map it was a normal road that would have saved us about 1/2 hour.
About 10 minutes in, I stopped to ask for directions (our GPS still would not accept this route!) We were told that yes this road would take us to Santa Severina but that the road got a bit rough.
No problem I thought. The nice paved road soon started having pot holes. No problem, I thought again. Then the paved road disappeared and it became a dirt road (very rare in Italy) and began to look like a farm field access road with still about 12 km to go. Regrettably I accepted defeat and turned around. Instead of saving 1/2 hour, I likely wasted 3/4 an hour!
We arrived at Le Puzelle Agriturismo http://www.lepuzelle.it
in Santa Severina around 4 pm. We had spent our first night in Italy here 4
years ago when we came from the opposite direction (LaMezia airport).
We had been captivated by the location, about a 10 minute walk outside of town and totally rural. It is on the side of a mountain with steep mountains behind and a valley down below. At night all you can hear are crickets or frogs and in the distance you can watch car lights as the odd vehicle negotiates the hair pin turns on the switch backs.
The sky is clear and you can see thousands of stars. Santa Severina
(like Locorotondo) is designated as one of Italy's prettiest towns. I know that these are just marketing ploys but for these two towns we would have no argument! Le Puzelle
has 8 rooms with 4 of them being separate from the main building. At first we were given a room in the main building. Having spent time in the other apartments, I inquired about them. Well they only had one rooom left and it had beds for 5 people including a loft!
The owner offered it, and we accepted it!!
We walked into town, had a drink, walked back,
had supper and sat out under the stars with our coffee (home made, Canadian style!!) This was the first night of our trip that it was warm enough to sit ourside at night! Joe's Best
- Drive along the coast Carol's Best
- Drive along the Ionian Coast and sitting out under the stars. Wednesday April 25
At 8:30 this morning it was bright and warm enough to have breakfast on the patio.
After breakfast we went for a long walk on the road away from the village. It was a twisting road that hugged the mountain side. Lush green vegetation everywhere and every corner gave a new breathtaking view of the valley below or Santa Severina
behind us. It was our best walk
of the trip.
When we got back we walked in the other direction and into town. We walked up the precipitous steps that lead up to the castle and part of the town. We had done this 4 years ago as well. The castle and town sitting atop this very steep cliff is a distinctive feature of this town. It is very similar to Marvao
, a town in Portugal that we have visited. It would have been impossible for any invading army to conquer this town!
We had a gelato at an outdoor cafe and then went looking for lunch. We found La Locanda del Re
) The owner/chef (Ciccio Guzzi)
befriended us when he found out that we were Canadians -- and he had been to Toronto (Nice city but too cold)
Carol and decided to split ONE of his 10 Euro specials. It was still too much food for us! By 2 pm we were back at our B&B.
I put on shorts, t-shirt, sunglasses, and mp3 player and went for the first jog of the trip. I am sure that I have described this kind of experience in some of the other blogs:
It just does not get any better for me.
Not a cloud in the sky, warm/hot, a new route/scenery, great music in my ears and my body is just lapping it up as I do my longest jogs when conditions are like this -- and I feel 20 years younger!
This morning on our walk
we had noticed barbed wire fences on both side of the road. They were old but we couldn't figure what kind of animal could possibly be grazing on such steep slopes. Well on my jog I was surprised to see a number of 500-800 pound cows/bulls walking on THIS side of the fence and along the edge of 5 metre high walls!
On my way back it got even better. I came around a corner and saw three HUGE bulls
casually walking down the side and centre of the road.
Further ahead there were 5 more! As I got closer I realized how REALLY big they were and WHAT huge HORNS they had.
Then I started wondering if maybe coming up beind them was a bad idea. There were a couple of young heifers with them. Would the bulls be protective? Would they see me as a threat and charge? (Have I seen too many bull fight movies?)
I quickly realized that if one charged I had no where to go except over the cliff which would be fatal. I started making lots of noise to see how they would re-act.
A few turned and looked at me and then either moved further to the left side of the road or just picked up the pace. I felt a bit foolish after getting by them, but man up close these guys are HUMONGOUS!
Got back in time to read for about an hour before the sun set behind the mountains at 5pm (the only disadvantage of this place). On this trip both Carol and I brought our Christmas presents of E-readers
and did not need to lug 6-8 pocket books with us.
We were going to eat at Le Puzelle and then found out that they did not serve dinner to-night so once again we raided our stores of food and ate in (found out later that today had been a holiday!).
After supper we went for another walk and this time Carol got to see the cows on the road as well. They were still wandering along the edge (and some down the centre) of the road and man were there ever a lot of COW PIES
on the road. This time I was brave and not afraid! Joe's Best
- Hard to pick. Let's say the whole day! Carol's Bes
t - The walk and the lunch Thursday April 26 in Catanazaro
This morning we chatted with a Dutch couple during breakfast. Then one of the people who works at Le Puzelle spent a lot of time tyring to help me locate a B&B Sant'Eufemia.
Neither of our GPSs would find the town. He finally gave me 4 pages of print outs and I am sure I will find it eventaully. We took a back road (by the cows!) to reach the coast. It was another very scenic route and with very little traffic.
Just before Catanzaro Lido
we stopped in at a large grocery store and stocked up again on beer, wine and water! We also stopped in at another lunch place and got to pick our lunch.
Early in the afternoon we arrived at B&B IL Cedro
) north of Catanzaro Lido. Cherrye
(a transplanted Texan
) and husband Giuseppe (Pepe) welcomed us.
Both spoke English and we discovered that we had camped just a few km from where
Cherrye's parents are from (but then we have camped pretty well everywhere in Texas.) They also have wi-fi here!! Later that evening we walked up to a pizzera for a small snack. Joe's Best
- The drive down from Santa Severina Carol's Best
- same Friday April 27
After breakfast Giuseppe found an address for me on computer. A few years ago I had met a Tomasso Ursano
on the internet from Catanzaro Lido
. We lost contact but Giuseppe found an address and I was actually able to find it.
His sister was home and called him from work (5 min) away. He took us to the bar that is owned by his brother (Bar Celestino)
and we also met his mom and dad.
We tried to find a connection. Our surnames are pretty rare. The best that we could come up with was that we must be cousins from way back somewhere.
Tomasso then took us out for lunch at a fish restaurant overlooking the Ionian Sea and Catanzaro Lido. We had long and involved discussions on world affairs, Italian politics, life in Canada and Italy, the banking
After that Carol and I decided to drive an additional 20 km to Soverato
where we had spent 3 days, 4 years ago. There is a very wide sandy beach with little wind or waves. We went in and said hello to the elderly lady that owns the Ionian Hotel
where we had stayed before!
Walked the beach, sunned a bit and then returned. In Catanzaro Lido we missed a turn and then spent the next 30-40 minutes going in circles in very heavy traffic. Our GPS just was not able to keep up to all of the one way clogged streets. We were finally able to find our way out.
After dinner tonight Carol went to get something from the trunk of the car. She got talking to the owners and inadvertently slammed the trunk shut with the keys in the trunk
! We now await Saturday morning and the ssistance of our b&b hosts to figure out how to get the keys!! Joe's Best
- meeting Tomasso Ursano Carol's Best
- time at the beach in Soverato Saturday April 28 in Amantea
8:30am Giuseppe called Avis
. He was told that they would have to tow our car to Lamezia Terme about 30 km away, we would get another car and they would have to send for another key from Rome.
We would also have to pay for the days that the car was not available for rental. Total cost would be about 500 Euros (or just under CDN$700.00)
I knew that in North America tow truck operators could get into a car in a bout 10 seconds with a special tool. Surely this had to be available here. Giuseppe called two mechanics he knew but no one was willing to try without damaging the car.
He then called Avis again. He was given the same story but this time the person said ---strictly off the record
--- that it would likely be a lot cheaper if we just smashed a window!
We tried calling the Italian version of CAA and all we got was recordings.
I was close to giving up when I decided to ask Giuseppe if he would call my cousin Mario Nicotera
who lived just a few
kilometres away. Mario is a mechanic and Carol and I met him once 22 years ago
I remember how gung ho he was to help us figure out our first rental car in Europe and he told us he could fix anything! Giuseppe was hesisitant to call Mario since his mechanics had told him they couldn"t do anything and how difficult it was. I figured that if Mario had worked around cars for 25-30 years he would certainly know WHO could do it
Mario told us to give him10 minutes. In less than that he called back and said to expect some people in half an hour. Two guys arrived in a small Fiat Punto. In 5 minutes they had the car opened!
If they had asked for 100 Euros I would have been happy! Instead they asked for 20 Euros
and I gladly gave them an additional large tip!
This experience has soured me on Avis.
Shame on them for not having this same information avaialable for customers (how to get keys out of a locked car). I am cynical enough to believe that once they towed
the car back, they would get someone to break in and retrieve the keys!
My origina rental contract was with BUDGET
and it had been switched to AVIS
. After this experience I will never rent from AVIS! On the other hand thanks to the Avis rep who suggested (off the record) that we should smash a window. AND one final note:
When we were switche to AVIS at a higher price, we were promised that at the end we would get a refund.
Back in Canada we received a letter saying that the investigation showed that YES indeed we were due a refund and then .... no more replies from Budget even to registered mail. I spent 6 months of persistence and finally got the refund but BUDGET lost a customer!
I can not thank our hosts Cherrye and Giuseppe enough for their help! The only positive aspect during this bad experience was knowing that we were with people who spoke and understood perfect English and Italian. Hard to believe that we could have received this kind of help at another b&b or at a hotel. Thanks a million guys!
Before we leave this area ...... In Puglia I had had a long discussion with Ada about garbage along the road side and how it was spoiling such a beautifula area (see our 2010 blog for more on this)
I now have to admit that this area of Catanzaro makes Puglia look pretty good. Garbage bins (where there are any) are overflowing and have not been emptied for weeks. There is more garbage outside the bins than in. The streets look as if no one has done a cleanup job in years. It was really very sad to see this.
I had originally planned on visiting cousin Mario but after the disaster in getting lost in Catanzaro Lido yesterday and getting locked out, I just wanted to get to our next destination. We drove fast and escaped the Catanzaro congested area.
About 45 minutues later we arrived at TREVI VILLAGE RESORT -- http://www.trevivillage.it
-- in Amantea. We discovered this place 4 years ago and only had 2 days here. At that time it was far and away the cheapest and BEST place
that we had stayed in. We said
that we would do all we could to come back. More about Trevi as we expect to be here for 3 or more days. Joe's Best
- Getting into the car for only 20 euros and arriving at Trevi Carol's Best
- Arriving at Trevi Sunday April 29
Breakfast was one of the better ones that we have had. Lots and lots of sweets of course but also a help yourself coffee machine, yogurt, cereal, cheese, meat, toast, juices and much more.
After breakfast we took a 1/2 hour walk north along the beach. Since the tide was in, we had to do a bit of "mountain climbing" over some rocks to get past one point. We walked as far as this huge rock outcrop that we first stopped at 22 years ago and have been back at least 4 or 5 times. Great view and a nice cove for swimming.
We also stopped in at MareBlu hotel
. I remember that in 1990 during our first trip to Italy we had stopped here to get directions and the lady spoke perfect English.
As we were having lunch, on the patio, I asked the young girl (who also spoke perfect English) if she knew of this lady. YEP it was her mom! She now lives in England! We returned to Trevi and spent more time getting baked under the sun.
For dinner we decided to eat at the restaurant at Trevi. We should have known better. Four years ago we ate dinner here and it was not great. Same tonight. Overpriced and frankly awful
. A Tavola Caldo would have been perfect if we could have found one. Joe's Best
- Walk along the beach and return to the "rock" Carol's Best
- The "rock climbing" on the beach and lunch at MareBLU Monday April 30
Another very good breakfast. After breakfast we drove into Amantea and this time found a "Lidl"
(German) grocery store. Walked for 1/2 hour along their boardwalk. It was a perfect day.
We decided to stay a 4th night at Trevi and asked if a room facing the ocean was available (that is what we had 4 years ago) The answer was yes but it would
cost us an additional 10 euros for the view (CDN$65 total).
So this "expensive room" was going to cost us 1 Euro LESS than the cheapest b&b so far. YEP! Off season Trevi Village is a great bargain!
One of many reasons why this is our second time here.
By the way they have very good WIFI connection in the office/dinning area so I have been able to post photos and be online a fair bit.
Lunch was on our patio and dinner was also on our patio! After lunch, under another gorgeous blue sky, we walked the beach going south. Joe's Best
- Doing nothing but enjoying the sun and the sand Carol's Best
- same Tuesday May 1
This is "May Day" in Europe and a holiday. After breakfast we moved from room #411 to room #208
which is about 25 metres away from the room that we had four years ago and and a stones throw and a half from the surf. In fact the surf will lull us to sleep tonight.
At noon we took
a short 3-4 km drive south and found a bar/pizzeria/ristorante across from the widest, sandiest beach we have seen in Italy.
Had a great lunch with a 666 mL bottle of beer for about CDN$11.00 and then we walked the sandy beach.
Spent the afternoon just ejoying the view from our room and soaking up the sun. Tried to use up most of our food tonight as we will only have 2 nights left. We were able to watch the sunset from our patio tonight. Joe's Best
- Seaside room and generally the whole day Carol's Best
- Gettng the seaside room Wednesday May 2 in Lamezia Terme
After the May Day holiday, I think there were only a few guests left at the resort. We never saw anyone so we had it to ourselves last night.
We left around 10am for a very short drive south along the shore. We stopped at Grisoldia Lido
and had a nice walk along the very wide boardwalk. We had done this, four years ago as well.
We met Fabrizio
and his wife at the B&B Peter Pan via Giorgio Pinna 74
in LaMezia Terme (less than 1 km from the airport) I guess this is an investment house since there are 3 b&b apartments but they do not live here. The B&B is convenient to the airport for us to return the car tomorrow and to get to REALLY early on Friday and Fabrizio has agreed to shuttle us back and forth each time!
For lunch we found the Il Quadrifoglio Ristorante/pizzera
on via delle Nazioni (across from Avis office) http://www.ristorantepizzeriailquadrifoglio.com
(Quadrifolgio or 4 leaf clover seems to be a common name over here) Discovered that the owner was born in Canada but left when he was 3 and does not speak a word of English BUT has maintained his Canadian citizenship!
After a rest at the b&b we found our way to a CARREFOUR
(second only to WALMART in the world) and picked up a few items. There is a fully equipped kitchen at our b&b so we ate in tonight. Learned how to hoperate the espresso machine and made some coffee. At 8:30 we went for a long walk to buy a gelato but just as we
arrived the owner was closing up shop!! Joe's Best
- Another nice day in Calabria and a nice lunch Carol's Bes
t - same Thursday May 3
There is good news and bad news about this Peter Pan b&b. The bad news is that the owner does not live here. The good news is that we have the place to ourselves. Early this morning we found that someone is living in the basement and that he would be bringing us back from theairport while we returned our car.
Had a long discussion with the BUDGET RENT a car person at the airport . The reason we got switched to AVIS in Brindisi
was because BUDGET had closed their office there. He gave me the website of Budget Itlia to contact about getting our refund (avis charged us almost 300 Euros or CDN$400! more)
At noon we went for a long walk aroud this part of LaMezia(it has many parts to it!) This section has wide streets, wide sidewalks, clean streets and moden 3 story apartment buildings and homes.
Found the railway station and wandered around
it and bought some gifts for home. For lunch we returned to IL Quadrifoglio ristorante/pizzeria and on the way home found a geletaria open for some ice cream.
Stayed around the b&b for the afternoon and after supper, we got all of our bags packed for a very early (5am) awakening and trip to the airport. Joe's Best
- Just walking around town Carol's Best
- Same Friday May 4 Rome - Toronto
We have been to Italy many, many times before but this was the first time that we were Up and at them before sunrise! By 5:25 we were on our way to the airport. Flight to Rome was good. We had about 1 1/2 hour wait in Rome and almost needed it as once again it was a good kilometre of walking to our next connection to Toronto! I made use of the Business Lounge while Carol made use of the shopping facilities! Once again there was free wifi in the business lounge but you had to go through hoops to send a message and then they would send a password to your phone!! Not very user friendly for
non-Italians! Joe's Best
- Waking up and not missing the flight (I had worried about this happening!! Carol's Best
- Shopping at the airport NOTES:
Since our first trip to Europe more than 20 years ago, we seem to discover something new that ends up in North America many years later. Here are some examples of things we first saw in Italy (or Europe) and then years later in Canada:
Using bar codes to scan groceries (way back in 1990)
remote lock/unlock for cars
super fast fans for hands drying
automated hotels where you check in yourself (still haven't seen them here)
Car radio displaying name of song, artist, station etc etc (way back in 1990)
toilets that flush automatically and seats that sanitize themselves
cars with a built in thermometer and finally in 2012
--- We had a small car with manual transmission. By accident, I discovered that if you stopped on a hill and took your foot off the brake, an automatic brake would come on and you would not roll backwards. This allows you to use both feet on the accelarator and clutch and not have to worry about rolling backwards. I thought this was really NEAT!