Last Blog for 2019

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October 16th 2019
Published: October 16th 2019
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Welcome to my final blog for 2019! We made it to the end and this is our last night in Italy, before heading to Rome tomorrow for our 10pm flight home. We Facetimed with Matt and Chris today and apparently there was a last minute wild party at our house last night so they were in full on cleaning mode when we talked. Let’s hope it’s ship shape when we arrive on Saturday morning.

The last week has been pretty calm with our only dramas being the habitual driving challenges and paying unnecessary tolls because we accidentally leave a highway and have to get back on it to go a few kilometres to the turn we were meant to take.

After leaving Padua we drove to Florence and I had cleverly pre-booked a car parking space out near the airport. This was a hassle in the sense that we needed to tram and mini bus in to the Old Town but oh so much better than trying to negotiate the dreaded ZTL, the micro sized streets and supposed parking garages we saw that could hardly fit more than 3 cars in them. Plus Florence was the busiest place we have been on this entire trip. There are people, scooters, push bikes and mini buses crowding every inch of space. The queues to get into the Duomo and the gallery to see the statue of David were on par with the line at the Vatican Museum. I really loved Florence. It is very ancient but well kept, clean and tidy with nice buildings and parks and a great atmosphere. Café culture is huge here as well. We had two and a half days here and did all the usual sightseeing. Everything was spectacular but the highlight would be Santa Croce church where Galileo and Michelangelo are entombed.

When we left Florence we drove to a stop at a place called Terni which is in the middle of nowhere so we could break up the long drive to the Amalfi Coast. Apart from the fact that it was not the quaint country village I was expecting (it was a massive industrial city) it was completely void of life! Well not really. It was Sunday so nearly everything is closed here on Sundays. We found a couple of cafes open and one supermarket to buy supplies. That’s it. So we went from one extreme in Florence of wall to wall beings, to Terni with a dozen people walking around. The menu board at the café we stopped for lunch at said “hamburger with salad” which Noel jumped at because he is VERY over pizza and pasta at this point. I had actually finished my ravioli by the time his burger arrived. He was salivating thinking about it and then out comes a plate with one meat patty on it and some lettuce and shredded carrot. No bun. No bread. No tomato. No sauce. You should have seen the look on his face before he burst out laughing. I had booked a lovely apartment in a house up in the hills for this rest stop. It was really lovely with a great view down the valley, with the sun setting. We even braved a swim in the big pool which was pretty darn chilly.

Since then we have spent the last couple of nights at a mountain top bed and breakfast place in San Lazzaro on the Amalfi Coast. It is the quaint old style village that I expected Terni to be. There are cows and donkeys next door. Vegetable plots in each property. Chickens roaming freely 20 metres away. A shepherd herding his lambs to bed on the cliff side terraces. There is the mandatory church that every village in Italy HAS to have and a handful of shops and cafes. We have a lovely view of the ocean from our balcony. The hosts are really lovely and each day they will teach guests how to make traditional food which they all cook together and then eat. Noel did not cook it, but he did eat the gnocchi yesterday and he said it was the best he’d ever tasted. Yesterday we did THE most terrifying thing….we got the local bus down the cliff side to Amalfi. WOW was that a heart stopper!!! I was seriously freaking out. The bus driver drives like a maniac. The roads are teeny with switchbacks everywhere. They have to toot the horn around every bend to warn other drivers that a huge freaking bus is going to collide with them if they don’t stop. There is no safety rail to speak of. Just a little half metre sandstone wall that will have no hope of stopping our bus from plunging 600 metres to the ocean below, should the driver misjudge something, have a heart attack or seizure etc. I have never breathed a bigger sigh of relief in my life when we finally got to the bottom. Oh and it was a one HOUR trip!!!! The only saving grace on the way home was that we had a glazed window on that bus and I couldn’t see impending death out of it. Anyway, it was a lovely warm sunny day so we strolled around Amalfi for an hour. Yep seen it..let’s move on. The ferry to Positano was quick but showed a HUGE hole from the sea under the houses and roads above it. I don’t know how much longer that hole is going to be able to carry all that weight before it gives way and crashes into the ocean. Let me say that I am glad it did not happen while our bus was over the top of it. We walked around Positano for a couple of hours, had lunch on the beach and a swim in the clear waters. The water was lovely. I don’t like browsing for trinkets and clothes so there really wasn’t anything else for Noel and I to see here. Yes it was pretty and a lot like the Cinque Terre but we wouldn’t go back. There isn’t enough for us to do there other than get fatter than we are by eating and drinking at every establishment.

Today was a trip to Pompeii which is amazingly well preserved considering it was covered in ash and lava for nearly 2000 years. It is quite big and we were surprised to read that Pompeii had a population of only 15,000 when Mt Vesuvius destroyed it. 2000 people died. We are now totally leg weary and tired.

Tomorrow will be a lazy morning before packing our bags for the flight home. We will visit Caserta Royal Palace to kill some hours before driving into Rome to return our little car. What a beauty she has been.

Final thoughts:

We have been wowed by the places we have visited and have met some wonderful people along the way. Yes..that includes you Deb and Jacquie. The Fab Four will meet again soon we hope. It has amazed us that so many people take their dogs everywhere in this part of Europe. It’s very strange to see people taking their dogs into supermarkets, restaurants, on trains and buses. I Googled the number of people living in the countries we visited. It’s over 200 million but we have NOT been able to see how they feed all these people. Our little car has driven us 3,500 kilometres in a month and we’ve seen about 200 sheep and 50 cows in that time. No dairies, no chicken farms, no pigs?????? And last but not least, the drivers are bat shit crazy and drive like maniacs with one hand on the wheel, while texting with the other and having 2 wheels at most times in the wrong lane. But do you know what???? We did NOT see one bingle. Not one in a whole month. That’s because they are mostly courteous and don’t freak out if someone gets one car length in front of them. I bet you any money that we see a car accident on the way home from Beverly Hills station on Saturday morning. HA HA!

Love to everyone. See you soooooooooooooooon!

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