April-May 2005 in Italy and Malta

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April 17-22 Rome
Arrival in Rome,
Tourists in Rome

April 22-24 Bay of Naples

April 24-27 Capri

April 27-29 Amalfi to Maratea
Amalfi Coast and Paestum,

April 29-May 3 Sicily
To Sicily,
Sicily (Taormina)
Mosaics at Villa Imperiale di Casale,
Valley of the Temples,

May 3-6 On Malta
Blue Grotto and Temples
Valetta and Archaeological Museum,
Exhibits in Archaeological Museum
Hypogeum, Gozo and Ggantija,
Tarxien and Clapham Junction

May 6-7 Sicily, Scilla and Charybdis

May 7-8 Tropea (Capo Vaticano)

May 8-10 Puglia
Matera, Grotto, Trulli of Alberobello

May 10-12 Abruzzi National Park

May 12 Tivoli, Villa Adriana


Capo Vaticano and Tropea

We were looking forward to staying at a hotel in Capo Vaticano I found on the Web . It was supposed to have a good view of the sea toward Stromboli, and we hoped to see Stromboli at sunset, looking like one of the pictures on the Web site. Also, we were supposed to be close to Tropea, where there was not only lovely scenery, but also recommended restaurants for dinner. It didn't work out that way.

When we got off the autostrada and out of the mountains, we also got out from under the clouds that were caused in part by the moist sea air being blown up the slope. The sky became clear and blue. The road was dead straight along flat terrain until we came to a dead end in some town that I didn't expect. We were using a map printed off MapQuest, but perhaps not at the necessary scale. Anyway, we managed to find a side road that wound itself up into low hills, and eventually, after quite a lot of ups and downs found ourselves in a place with signs to Capo Vaticano. Also with lots of signs for hotels and holiday resorts.

Our hotel in Capo Vaticano. Our room was the upstairs one with open shutters.

Before we expected it, we saw the sign for our hotel, on the inside of a sharp curve. We were expected, the hotel staff were friendly and welcoming, and we were given a very nice room. We were a little disappointed that the room was on the back side of the hotel, away from any sea view, but the rest of the place compensated for that. The pool, though, was less inviting than it looks in the picture, being filled with what my notes call "thick green water". The whole area was covered with frogs, singing a loud chorus through the night.

To see the promised views, we took a little walk, with the intention of getting to the sea cliff and looking at Stromboli (if we could). Unfortunately,after a short distance, the road that seemed to be going to the sea stopped at a private holiday resort village with "no trespassing" signs. We could just see that the sea was there, beyond the resort, but only just. The road turned right and continued between the resort and some houses for some distance, and then came out into open fields, but still with no view of the sea. We decided that we had walked quite far enough without any notion of how much further we would have to go before we could see the wonderful views that had been promised, so we went back for the car.

Following that same road a bit further in the car, we came to another turning that looked as if it might go to the sea, but it wound up in a farmyard. An old woman was there, and we asked "Mare?". She pointed us to a small road leading out of the farmyard, which we followed. Eventually, the road did come to the cliff edge, and then hairpinned steeply down to a very small beach. None of it was very pretty, and if Stromboli was out there, we couldn't see any sign of it in the haze.

Dinner was included in the hotel price. One of the reviewers on the Web site said it was the best dinner they had in the south of Italy, which is why we chose that option rather than going into Tropea. But our dinner was rather disappointing, as was breakfast the next morning. Friendly staff compensate for a lot, but overall, the idea of enjoying the Tropea area for a day was a bit of a washout. Nor did we get any pictures of Tropea and vicinity (at least, none that survived the nightly editing out of unwanted pictures from the camera memory).