Arrival in Rome,
22-24 Bay of Naples
27-29 Amalfi to Maratea
Amalfi Coast and
29-May 3 Sicily
Mosaics at Villa Imperiale
Valley of the Temples,
Blue Grotto and Temples,
and Archaeological Museum,
Exhibits in Archaeological Museum
Gozo and Ggantija,
and Clapham Junction
6-7 Sicily, Scilla and Charybdis
7-8 Tropea (Capo Vaticano)
Grotto, Alberobello Trulli
10-12 Abruzzi National Park
12 Tivoli, Villa Adriana
A Holiday driving around the south of Italy, Sicily, and Malta
I (Martin) had a research group meeting of three days in Rome, and Ina
came with me for a holiday of nearly a month in Rome and south through
Sicily to Malta. We left Toronto for Rome on a crowded Air Canada plane
on April 16, just before the Papal Conclave. The temperature
in Toronto was a summery 27°C.
After a good flight, we saw sunrise over the south coast of England.
Eventually, we arrived in Rome as a cold front was going through,
with the temperature at about 14°C, and heavy rain showers through
most of the day.
We had a couple of days to wander around Rome, one in the rain, one
in nice but cool weather, and then I had my three day meeting while Ina
explored Rome on her own, before we picked up a car from Avis and started
our three week, 4000 km drive south.
route. Blue dots indicate points of interest that we visited
or places we stayed.
The car was an absolutely delightful Nissan
Micra Diesel, a bit smaller than a VW Beetle on the outside,
but it felt like a big car on the inside. It had plenty of
pep, great fuel economy (5.1 l/100 km over the whole trip)
and handled very well at autostrada speed (around 160 kph),
in the narrow streets of small villages, and on the extreme
mountain hairpins we were to encounter. Fuel economy was
quite important, when regular gas cost abour $3.30 Cdn per
litre, and diesel cost $2.90.
Here it is in Sicily, overlooking
the fertile plain southwest of Mt. Etna, (just west of Catania
on the map).
Our trip took us quickly by autostrada from
Rome to Herculaneum, one of the Roman towns near Naples that
were destroyed in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. We then
enjoyed Sorrento (which we used as a base for a climb up to
the crater of Vesuvius), and the fabled Isle of Capri.
After Capri, we went south by way of the Amalfi
coast and Paestum to Maratea, where we spent a couple of days.
From there we went directly to Sicily for a few days of exploration,
based in Giardini-Naxos, just below Taormina.
From Catania, we flew to Malta for an extraordinarily
interesting three days that included a visit to the Hypogeum,
an extensive three-level underground temple carved out of the
living rock between 5600 and 5000 years ago -- several hundred
years before the first Egyptian Pyramid.
Returning from Malta, we spent another in
Giardini-Naxos before going on to Matera in the heel of Italy,
with an overnight stop near Tropea in the toe. Matera has a
section called the Sassi, in which the houses are carved into
the side of the cliff. Near Matera there is a magnificent cave
or grotto, and nearby, in and around Alberobello are the famous "trulli" houses.
Finally, we spent a couple of days in the
mountain air of Pescasseroli, which serves as the headquarters
of the Abruzzi National Park. On the last day, on our way to
our final hotel before flying home, we visited the Villa d'Este
in Tivoli, and the nearby Villa Adriana, built by the Emperor
Hadrian as a kind of representation of all the regions of his