Abruzzo and the South West

ie. home of barky dogs and starey folk

After partaking in a tonne of Pizza, a load of gelato and a good measure of red wine with our guests we thought we should probably get back to nature for a bit and get some exercise.

Luckily, the Apennines and a couple national parks in the mountains aren’t far from Rome so we headed for a couple days hiking. First up was Pescaroli and a walk through a closed ski resort to the Rifugio di Lorio, after trudging through the snow and getting pretty soaked we finally made it and were rewarded with a great view.

Rifugio di Lorio

Apparently the area is home to the last bears and wolves in Italy, we didn’t see any. We were suitably gutted as you can imagine… everyone seemed to have a tonne of guard dogs to scare the wildlife away however so we had a few sleepless nights listening to them all howling at each other…

Further down the valley was Barrea, where we found a cafe with some awesome views and free wifi, a rarity in Italy. Hanging out for hours isn’t really the done thing but it’s given us an appreciation for Italian cafe culture which basically involves dropping in for a quick shot of caffeine and a bit of a gossip before heading on your way. We’re wondering if the road rage we’re coming across has something to do with all this caffeine…

Lago di Barrea

Not a bad office...

Which brings us nicely to Naples…via a quick stop at some (free) Roman ruins, a whole little town in fact, at Saepimum. We had the place to ourselves which was awesome and quite surreal at the same time. People still live, dry their clothes and feed their chickens amongst the ruined roman forum and amphitheatre.

Roman stuff

We’ve been to Naples before so for Paddy’s day we visited our favourite viewpoint above the city for a few beers before failing to find an open Irish pub (bad times) and having some of the best pizza yet, melt in the mouth (good times)!

1000 steps but probably worth it...

The Irish pub that wasn't

Paddy's day Pizza instead

To finish off in this part of the world we headed back to the beaches around Maratea. We actually managed to find some waves but mostly it was about stunning, untouristy landscapes, and crazy death roads… Rusticus held up admirably and now we’re headed east.

Sunset #1

Sunset #2... Maratea

Italian waves

Maratea

Perugia and Rome

After spending the night in Prosecco country and managing to fight the temptation to partake we had a fairly long haul down to Perugia to meet with our new adventurers for the week, Annabel and Matt. Luckily we had a nice Italian BlaBla passenger to keep us entertained on the way.

At the top of Perugia

Basilica di San Domenico, Perugia

Once we’d found somewhere kind of decent to park up for a few days we headed straight up the hill in search of some long awaited Pizza! Thankfully A&M had done some scouting that day so it didn’t take long to find somewhere! Perugia is a lovely old hill town with lots of narrow winding alleys, steps and a couple of quirky monuments to check out, including underground streets and a very fine well (kid you not!).

 

Assisi

The following day after some train….adventures….we managed to make it to Assisi home of St Francis (and more Pizza). Next up was a spin to Roma in Rusticus which was a bit of an experience for A&M I think. The van was top notch of course, it’s more the charming Italian drivers that provide the memorable moments :-S

The trip to Rome!

The four of us spent the next couple days ticking off all the tourist boxes in Rome. St Peters & the Sistine Chapel, Pizza, the Colosseum & Palatino, Pasta, the Pope, Pizza, and spent some fun evenings getting the boardgames out with a few glasses of Italian red! We were spoilt by our guests, we owe you one guys!

Our home, via Dublino

Trevie not impressed by Trevi fountain.

Colosseum

Gelatoooooo

Cathy rocking the statue pose

Ye olde Roman Forum

Some more chuffed by the Pope than others...