25.4.2011 - Chiusi - Canopic Urn from Dolciano
Bronze sheet ossuary with earthenware head on a bronze throne with a relief decoration (2nd half of the 7th century BC)
Monday 25th April 2011
Siena – Chiusi.
Up and head off towards Chiusi via San Quirico d’Orcia and Montepulciano. We thought it would be a quiet drive – wrong – it’s Easter Monday, Public Holiday and everyone is out for a drive and markets in most towns. Very scenic drive, even the Italians thought so, as this is the way it is here – they stop anywhere to take a photo – worst was 2 old ladies, who just stopped on the road in a 70-90km zone – there is no parking lane - who cares !!! People also just stop and get out or walk around and get in the car – who cares who’s coming – quite funny (love it)and most are Sunday drivers – i.e. below speed limit – so different to the week days where speed limit is taken to mean +20 or more. So all in all a good trip.
We arrive at Chiusi at 12.30pm, have a bite to eat and then into the Tourist Information office. The Etruscan Archeological Museum is open so we go in.
(for the history buffs) - The Etruscan civilization had its beginnings in the 9th century BC and ended
in the 1st century AD, becoming part of the Roman population in accordance with the Lex Iulia of the year 90AD.
A very interesting display of the Etruscan implements, cinerary urns, idols etc. The Canopic Urns contained the ashes of the deceased. During the last decades of the 7th century BC, the ossuaries high-rank persons consisted of a globular vase of laminated bonze, placed on a throne and positioned in front of a trapeze (plank) in order to portray the deceased lying in banquet, encircled by the signs of power and the symbols of wealth. At the end of the 7th Century BC the production of the ‘Canopic’ urns with human-headed lids and which took their name from the viscern-containing jars accompanying Egyptian mummies’ journey into the afterlife (taken from the name of ‘Canopus’ in the Nile delta). See photos.
They were very skilled people at exploiting mineral resources, cultivating high quality crops, including wine and oil, measuring and dividing and excelled at arts and crafts. Their relationships were based on marriage. Women had rights in that they could sell, buy and inherit properties, have their own tomb.
We then go across to the Museum of the Cathedral where there
is ‘Porsenna’s Labyrinth’ which is an intricate tunnel system that extends under the entire hill. The tunnel is associated with the legendary Estruscan King Porsenna. The tunnels, dug into the sandstone, were a complex drainage and water system. This town like nearly all towns in those times, is built on a hill for defense against attack.
We were entertained by an American couple – older than us, who had come back after 6 years for a re-visit and to tour Italy. She spoke continuously to him telling him to take photo after photo. The man was quite annoyed by her, so Tom ended up telling him just to say the magic two words ‘yes dear’. From the Labyrinth we ascended directly up into the Cathedrals bell tower, which was originally built for defensive purposes in the 12th century.
Then into the church museum – it is amazing the relics everywhere to fill up all these little museums – the same as in Portugal and Spain (yes Annie, we agree with you !!)
Then out into the Piazza – it‘s 5pm - the local wheel chair disabled society has a stall selling oil bread, boiled eggs and meat for a small
25.4.2011 - Chiui - Cathedral
Labyrinth underneath cathedral
donation, so as Tom is hungry, we head over and he gets something to eat. They are also doing the same thing for sweets at 6pm and of course we will come back for that. So off to the local wine production shop for some tasting and buy 3 bottles of red. Back for the sweets at the Piazza and have a chat to the locals.
Now about 7pm and we head back to the camper. It is in a parking spot for campers, so we stay here for the night, along with 4 other campers. Locally made pasta for dinner.
Tuesday 26th April 2011.
Chiusi - Massa Lubrense, Amalfi Coast
Up in the morning and head out towards the lake for the 11am tour of some Etruscan tombs.
We had a bit of fun finding it as the spelling in the brochure is different from that on the sign indicating its whereabouts. Oh well, we had a good look around the countryside out of Chiusi.
The Monkey Tomb owes its name to the image of a small monkey hidden in the bushes painted in the frieze that decorates the central chamber. 480 - 470BC.
There were about 20
people altogether but only 8 could go in at a time – so we waited our turn. The tour is not in English, but not too hard to follow. It is amazing the amount of work and quality of work that went into the tombs. We saw 3 tombs in total, all near each other.
The ‘Pellegrina Tomb’ was of interest as in the chambers there are 5 sarcophagi and 12 alabaster and travertine urns, and are preserved today as they were found with the lids overturned or thrown down by grave robbers. These are dated to late 4th to 3rd Century BC. The tomb was in use until 2nd Century BC.
There were more very elderly people on tour that reinforces the concept of ‘do it while you can’.
It’s 12.30pm, and we finish the tour and head out south.
We miss the turn off and go to the next one and come into Sorrento and then the TomTom sends us down a little narrow street, next to a bus depot and says to turn left up this steep very narrow road. NO WAY. So we back up 300 metres and were stopped by a bus driver who says
26.4.2011 - Chiusi - Tomb of Pelligrina
The tomb belonged to the Etruscan Sentinates family
it happens all the time, and give us directions, and drive through Sorrento in peak hour holiday traffic. What fun and frustration. We turn off the TomTom and follow the signs. What a great drive, down a cliff road, 50 minutes, Gaye on the edge of the seat and Tom trying to see around the corners – in the end, all was OK and was a good spot when we finally arrived at the campsite at Massa Lubrense, Amalfi Coast. The brochure says it is just past Naples and a good place to see Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast which also showed a lovely beach shot. I think there is a lot of false advertising in most of these brochures.
Wednesday 27th April 2011.
Up at 5.30am as bus goes at 6.50am or 9am and it is still a 50+ minutes on bus to Sorrento and 30 mins on train to Pompeii. It worked well as we arrived in Pompeii at 9am just after it had opened. We thought of doing a guided tour, but needed 10 people and was taking too long for the guide to try and get 10 people that come through the gate
26.4.2011 - Chiusi - Tomb of the Pelligrina
It is propped open by thieves - it is as it was found.
to do the tour, so we hired 2 audio guides that came with maps. We ended up spending 5 hours there and was worth every minute of it. All up there is approximately 66hectares of which 45 have been excavated (including the suburban areas).
Back to the campsite, have a drink with the Paul and Cheryl from Perth, and then back to van for dinner. We are all leaving at 7am in the morning, as there is no traffic on that road that early in the morning.
Thursday 28th April 2011.
Massa Lubrense – Sicily.
Up again at 5.30am and pack up – the others leave just before us and head up the hill. We leave for the centre of the village – 100 metres away and wait for the bus. As it arrives we head off. Tom decides not to use the TomTom, and follows the signs. We end back up at Sorrento – again what a drive. People coming up behind us, blowing horn to try to hurry us up – NFW – then the scooter riders just overtake. This goes on all the way even up to the entry to the expressway. How more people don’t
have accidents and/or killed is unbelievable - but this is how it works here.
We end up on the A3 and head towards Sicily – a long but easy drive. As we travel on the A3 motorway we look in amazement at the traffic going the other way, returning to Rome from the Naples direction after the Easter holiday - it was pretty much at a standstill all the way – all 350kms of it, 3 lanes wide – just like the F3 but much longer.
It kept us awake watching and talking about it.
At one stage of the trip we were up in the misty mountains and when the mist cleared we could see down to the ocean and we were on a bridge about 1000 metres in the air crossing between 2 mountains – long way down !!
Get to ferry terminal, buy our tickets and go to the queue for loading and Tom heads towards truck queue. The guy who was supposed to be directing traffic finally turns around and sees us and tells us to go into the car queue. As soon as Tom puts on his blinker to let those behind us know what
he is doing, they all close up and won’t let him in. The guy controlling sees this and tells us to go into the other lane and he will open up the control barrier. Well, the other drivers see this and then try to jump in front of us. Tom had had enough and keeps driving the motorhome, so they have to stop, and we head up the lane to the front of the queue – not believing what has just happened. We wait for 15 minutes and then the boom gate goes up for us all to go ahead. Well, the car drivers sped up to get in front of us again, so we are now 3rd in the queue at another boom gate. We just laugh. WTF. We are on holidays and they are going back to work.
Arrive and drive off the ferry and it is even worse when we get to the lights. They go green and they try and accelerate to get around you. Next lights red, so stop. Then they go green and we all go, as well as those who don’t stop for the red light coming from the side – such fun.
Well we find a campsite ‘Euro Camping Marmaruca’ – under the freeway – oh so noisy and unkept, but it is late so it will do – and we are so tired that we sleep. Would not recommend it.
Friday 29th April 2011.
Head out on foot to walk 4.5kms to another campsite close to the school, to check it out and then go to the school. Well, there is no footpath, so we walk on main road – not the expressway. We have the TomTom with us and get to next town and have a drink in the bar and off we go again. Then TomTom says turn around and go back 2kms – bullshit. So we stop at the big hotel and ask bus driver. A taxi happens to turn up, and we say we will get a taxi to it. The bus driver talks to the taxi driver and off we go. The next thing the taxi is taking us back to our campsite we just came from. We show him the name of the campsite we were wanting, and he says that the campsite had closed 6 years ago. It is still on the
internet and also on the TomTom and the lady in the school had also mentioned it. WTF. The taxi driver says there is another campsite 2km further out along the road and it is a good one, so we ask him to drive us there. He does and €15 for 6kms – rip off – but the info was worth it. It is on the beach, restaurant, pizzeria, supermarket, washing machine – nothing like where we were. We check on vacancies and there is no problem, so tell them we will be back tomorrow. We walk back to town, and call into the butchers for some chops for dinner. All up we have walked 8km on road with no footpath– but very scenic.
Have a late lunch and lay about. Looking forward to moving tomorrow and setting up for a 4 week stay.
Saturday 30th April 2011.
We re-located campsites today. It’s raining so it is done in between showers. Tom puts up the tent – much easier 2nd time around – van is facing the beach, so a great view and lovely to hear the shore break and spread all our gear into the tent.
a pistachio salami (we think), but it looked raw and there was no way I was eating it, so Tom tried some. Today he cooked it with onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes in an egg omelet – really good as the heat released the pistachio flavour. Also have tried the pistachio gelato – really good and of course there is also a great selection – naturally we are trying them all .
Sunday 1st May 2011.-
Taormina – public holiday.
We go to bus stop for the 11.05am bus. It didn’t come, so back to campsite and on scooter. Tom gets to the top of the long driveway and stops at the road and drops the bike. I’m OK but Tom’s pride is hurt – he is not sure if he forgot to put his feet down or if they did not reach the ground (silly old fart) but up we get and into Mazzaro and where get the cable car up to Taormina. It’s 100% tourism – so many eateries, pasticceria, tourist trinket shops, street after street. We found where the school is, and then needed a gelato. Wandered for a while then had lunch. We both had
pizza as Sicily is supposed to be renowned for their pizzas. Tom tried the Sicilian pizza – no cheese on it – he thought it was great. More walking and then back on the cable car and home on the scooter.
Tom goes for a swim. The water is cold, and the beach is very rocky with the water dumping at the shore from yesterday’s weather. It took Tom quite a while to get in as rocks/pebbles in waves and not sand. It’s very rocky under foot. A short swim as he was nervous with the waves dumping and he tries to exit, but has to go back out several times and wait to ride out shore break. At least he got in a short swim. It might be better when the waves calm down.
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