Cruise-Costa Deliziosa -Italy & Corfu

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December 3rd 2018
Published: December 3rd 2018
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1st Day – Friday 23rdNov 2018 – Not that much happened!! Flew to Venice (40min delay due to fog) and arrived at AirBnB about 8.15pm. Usual stresses about journey but nothing too bad! Learnt that you buy a bus ticket ON the bus from the airport to Corso de Poppola BUT you need to buy a ticket in a Tourist Office for travelling into, and around Venice. Supermarket shopping across the road, then went to a lovely atmospheric bar around the corner for tapas and drinks – Hostaria Vite Rossa. Wonderful little find! (AirBnB Corso del Poppolo 84B)

2nd Day – Saturday 24th November 2018. The best 8 Euros we spent was on a pair of plastic wellingtons!! We had seen some Japanese girls wearing orange ones and thought nothing of it – other than they were being over cautious, and then on the way from the bus station Piazzale Roma (10 minutes from our Air BnB) to our walking tour, we encountered floods!!! Combined with a high tide and rain, many of the streets and squares were flooded. We met a group of Italian women and together, because we bought a job lot of these plastic wellingtons from the opportunist sellers, we managed to get them for 8 euros and waded through the water with relative ease!! Met outside the Galleria del Accademia for our first Free walking tour of the south side of Venice and walked about 4 km over 2 hrs learning about Venice, well - I was too busy taking photos to listen!! There was a lot of history and dates, a few tips on where to eat and tipping (you don’t have to tip!) a huge church that we went into, as well as other little snippets of info!

Finished the tour and decided to walk to St Marks Square, which was still flooded, 2 hours after high tide . The highest tide was 1.56 metres and the tide we had just had was 1.15 metres. Apparently, a warning siren had sounded on the island 2 hrs before high tide so everyone (except us!!) knew what to expect! However, there were quite a lot of raised platforms for walk around on, unless you wanted to paddle your way through the floods!!

The sun shone briefly and then we made our way to Campo S S Apostoli for the 2nd Free walking tour of Venice, but this time the North side. Interesting little trip but the blurb was much the same as this mornings blurb so it didn’t really add too much to the day. Went into a Baroque church where everything was made of green and white marble, including the curtains! Found a nice street to have some food! The Italians eat at 7.30pm so at 5.00pm its Aperitivo time - Aperol Spritzer and a few tapas type snacks ( cicheti @1-2 euros each) which are absolutely delicious! Wandered back through the streets and a street market and decided to have something to eat at the train station before getting the bus (No 4L or 4) bus back.

Day 3 – Sunday 25th November 2018 We had a plan to drop our cases off at the cruise terminal early and have another day wandering around Venice. Best laid plans and all that! Left the AirBnB at about 10.00ish and got the bus to the cruise terminal, where after walking from the bus stop, finding the right terminal for Costa Deliziosa and then queuing behind some people who seemed to take ages, dumped our suitcases about 11.00 and given No 8 ticket and said we could board at 12.00. Waited upstairs, noted that it was absolutely pouring with rain, and didn’t board until about 15.00 , when it was still raining heavily! Decided that Venice in the rain was off so had some lunch, found we had been upgraded and had a balcony, (Cabin 4374) as well as a bottle of prosecco and bowl of fruit. Quick NB for future: the electricity is two round pin, the same as Spain! Unpacked, and also had the mandatory “Muster Stations” drill, and then went to meet our English speaking rep for standard “welcome on board” lecture, and skipped end to go out on deck to see downtown Venice at night/in the rain until our evening meal at 18.15pm (Choices of mealtimes were 18.15pm or 20.45pm). Met a lovely Phillipino couple from Ireland on our table, as well as a couple of Russians, who didn’t speak any English and not interested in trying to chat ! ( Turns out later that they are from Minsk, Belarus!) Watched the show which was …well….different –Adams Medini doing juggling, very impressive hand puppets, and acrobatics!

Retired to our cabin about 22.00 for Prosecco !!

4th Day – Monday 26th November 2018. Arrived in Bari, S Italy in the cloud – and it seemed quite dark already, even though it was only 14.00pm. We had booked a Costa trip ( discounted because we were Costa Cruise Club Members!!) to Alberobello to see the trulli houses and as its 50 miles away didn’t fancy taking public transport – especially when the Ship was leaving port at 19.00 hours!! Bari looked an interesting place to wander about, with the 2nd longest seafront in Italy (9kms) don’t know where the longest one is? It also had its share of churches and old city walls, as well as one street where all the women just make pasta (so our Tour Guide told us!) Anyway, we took the Motorway towards Monopoli and saw our first basic trulli houses.

Trulli houses were originally built as storage sheds for farmers tools in this agricultural area. Then someone thought they could live in them and eventually a whole town was built of trulli houses, They didn’t have to pay taxes on agricultural buildings, and if the tax man came visiting, they would just pull out the keystone and the building would collapse as there was no concrete to hold them together. About 1797 they set the town free from feudalism and were allowed to use mortar!

We first visited a restaurant trulli and had some veal, pasta and wine (included in tour), before setting off to see the old town of Alberobello. Quite unique and Im sure we managed to see the whole of the main street before it got completely dark!! We then had about 2hrs of free time to wander around the tiny streets of trulli houses, with the shops and bars before visiting the residential side where the trulli houses are still lived in.

Got a bit lost getting back to the coach and ended up in the new main square of Alberobello but just about managed the coach on time and got back to the ship about 19.00 hrs.

5th Day - Tuesday 27th November 2018. Set the alarm for 6.30am )I think there may have been a time difference somewhere) off the ship by 7.30am…..I think in Corfu time it was 8.30am!! It was like an April day with short, sharp showers chasing through, a bit of sun and blue sky and grey clouds. Hugged the coastline and walked up, past the museum of Asian Art, to the Old Fortress built in the 6th C during the Byzantine era. Paid the 3 euros to go in, but couldn’t walk to the top as it was closed. Had a good mooch about before it started raining, and then made our way, across the huge Esplanade to the Old Town. Had a quick peer in Agios Spyridon Church – very dark and dismal, and no tower to be climbed!! Wandered around the pretty streets of the Old Town, lovely little squares and statues, but then we were suddenly in the new part of the shopping centre!! Walked up to the fish and vegetable market alongside the New Fortress which was began in 1576, with the Venetians playing an important role on defending the town on Corfu during the Turkish Siege in 1715. Walked back to the ship, in a heavy rain shower,( It was easy to bring a 2 litre plastic bottle of water on board! ) ready for the sail away at 13.00hrs with views of Corfu Town and “Time to Say Goodbye” sung in Italian!!

Day 6 - Wednesday 28th November 2018. Set the alarm for 7.30am and into Messina by 8.20am!! After a quick look at the Cathedral, caught the Petit Tren around the City to get our bearings, having a 10 minute stop at the Panoramic View for photos. Decided to climb the cathedral Tower and were rewarded with fine views from the top as well as the history about the tower. It is the worlds largest and most complex mechanical and astronomical clock and was built in 1933. At midday,a complex system of counterweights, leverages and gears determine the movements of the bronzed figures, The lion turns his head towards the square, roars 3x, wags his tail and waves the flag (the flag is missing at the moment as it blew away in high winds and needs repairing!) the rooster then flaps his wings 3x, raises its head and crows three times – there’ more!! The characters below bow when passing infront of the Virgin and also the Church of the Montalto rises up out of the sand, in a small box near the bases of the tower!

Walked back up to the churches we had missed and then onto the Botanical Gardens. These were very old being founded in 1638, by Pietro Castelli and are one of the oldest in Europe! The ‘Hortus Messinensis’ (this is the ancient name!) was destroyed by the Spaniards supressing the rebellion in Messina. In 1838 the garden was founded again, and much of the land, originally belonging to the Botanical Garden, was lost in the earthquake of 1908.

Also walked up to the Shrine of Our Lady of Montalto for good views of the Cathedral and more vies of the City. It was still sunny and cloudy but a very interesting sky with storms brewing. Walked back down the the Cathedral, past a bust of Lord Baden Powell (what all that about??) to watch the 12.00 ‘show’ on the Cathedral Tower. The sun came out just as the lion started to roar and then it went very dark and the rain hammered down, thunder and lightening all in about the space of 3 minutes!! Got soaked again walking back to the ship!!

Some interesting skies as we left Sicily. Very dark and stormy one way but bright sunshine the other way. Sailed past Stromboli – an active volcano – fascinating to see the smoke billowing out of the top of the volcano! I don’t know how people live on that island!!!

Day 7th – Thursday 29th November 2018. Our research had shown that the best place to go from Civitavecchia is Tarquinia, just a ½ hr bus journey away! Got off the boat 9.00ish, avoided all the taxi drivers and mini buses offering trips to Rome from 10 euros, and got the shuttlebus to the Port Entrance. From there its just a short walk up the main street to the Cathedral, and the bus stop to Tarqinia is opposite.

Now, I think you have to buy a ticket from the machine first – the machine is marked with a large blue letter ‘P’ which doesn’t mean parking!!! However, a bus was there showing the destination as ‘Viterbo’ and when we asked where to buy tickets, the bus driver, who spoke some English, said yes, he was going through Tarquinia, and we could just get on the bus!!! Bargain!!

Off at Tarquinia and walked up the main street, full of grand buildings and palaces, city walls and arches, convents and churches, to the viewpoint at the top, giving wonderful views of the valleys and agricultural hills! Most of the historical buildings seem to have been built about the 13th C and we had a peer into the Chiesa e Convento di San Francesco at its marvellous stone roof, almost like cloisters and with the sun shining through the stain glass windows on the honey coloured stone - it was quite magical!

Which is more that can be said of our next stop! The Necropolis!!

The painted tombs of Tarquinia are among the most remarkable ancient monuments of the entire Mediterranean, with over 6000 tombs being found so far. It is thought that most of the tombs date to around 510-530BC and that only the rich people of that time could afford to have painted tombs. The ‘ not so rich’ people were cremated, the bones collected, and sometimes broken up and crushed to fit into an urn, and then a bowl was used for a lid!

Duly paid our 6 Euros each, and walked around the site. There are about 20 tombs that you can go into – it involves walking down at least 15 steps, pressing a button to turn the light on in the tomb (they are glassed off to avoid the colour disintegrating) and then walking back up the 15 ( or more!) steps ( NB 20 tombs x 15 steps down x15 steps up = 600!!) Its very fascinating stuff! You can see the coloured pictures of the tombs, some in better condition than others but its incredible that these pictures are 2500 years old – many of the tombs only being discovered in 1961. There was also a corner of the field cordoned off for the urns.

Walked back into town, ½ pizza each (pumpkin, ham and mozzarella cheese!) freshly baked, before exploring the old town with its squares, old buildings and towers. Got the 2.30pm (‘L’line and you can pay 2 euros cash on the bus) back to the Port and had a quick look at Fort Michelangelo before walking along the Esplanade to the Pier at The Pirgo, Civitavecchia.

Back on the boat by 17.00 in time to watch a beautiful sunset from the balcony, have a cuppa and feed the seagulls – they are very good at catching food mid-air!!

Day 8 – Friday 30th November 2018. We had decided to get the bus into Noli and ended up getting the train to Finalborgo! Its very complicated and today its oh so windy and cold!! Got off the ship , went into Tourist Information, and got all the maps and details and then walked up through the main street underneath the arched walkway to the river. Turned right, over the river and carried on straight until we saw the train and bus station – about a 25 minute walk. So far, so good – but we couldn’t find anywhere to buy bus tickets, and couldn’t find a bus stop for the 40/ ,so we decided to get train tickets (clearly signposted) and go to Finalborgo instead! Bumped into our dinner companions from Ireland as they were going home today and had to get a train to Milan before flying to Dublin! Such a coincidence! Anyway, the train arrived on time and 15 minutes later we arrived at the station in Finale Ligure. Mmmm……what now!!

Asked on the buses outside and it transpired we need to catch the bus from Finale Ligure to Finalborgo (Behind the pink building to the left of the station!) and to get a ticket, we had to go the Bar and ask! Tickets duly bought and we then waited for the bus – that arrived about 5 minutes late but was the 40/ that we could have just caught to Noli!! The journey only takes about 10 minutes and could probably be walked but it’s a good 25 minute walk I would say.

Anyway, Finalborgo is definitely worth a visit! It was founded in the 12thC by Marquis Enrico II Del Carretto and is a lovely walled, medieval city with a castle (totally renovated!) about a 20 minute walk up on top of a hill. Explored the castle and then wandered back down to the old town walking the narrow alleyways, looking in the shops, sitting on the squares! There was a 40/ bus waiting so we took it back to the train station and as we were 40 minutes early, we walked along the sea front of Finale Ligure to a huge Gate and square.

Got back to the train station at about 13.50 to wait for the 13.58 train! We waited, and waited…..waited some more! It was freezing cold and blowing a gale and there was no sign of a train back to Savona. We were just considering alternative plans when a train appeared about 14.40pm! Got back to Savona just after 15.00 hrs and after going in the supermarket walked quickly back to the main street. Had a quick run around the Old Town and a look at the impressive (on the outside anyway!!) Cathedral. After taking a quick look at the Fort, it was a short walk, through the marina back to the Ship for 16.00hrs.

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