Tuesday 8th November
You might look at my rugged handsome exterior and think there is a real man, a well tamed Bear Ghrylls that everyone can aspire to but underneath this hard shell is a fluttering mass of jelly, scared of his own shadow as well as Lucy’s.
To be honest, we’ve never felt really at home in Italy, the locals never say hello, everywhere looks and feels run down and I’ve mentioned the roads before. After our little brush with the fake police (I hope) and a night in a sosta which doubled as a knocking shop and where the last disco car left at 5am in the morning we have decided to head north. Our guide books both paint awful pictures of Naples, the news was of riots in Naples and our camping books listed only three sites in the south of Italy that are open in December, two of which are in the middle of nowhere so food shopping would have been an issue.
We’ve both got very high levels of scardey cat pheromones and have rarely taken any risks, even the Lotto is pushing it a bit for us and we have to wait for a really big rollover.
Sunday morning we hit the motorway and found ourselves in a sosta in Tivoli, just outside Rome. The motorway was a breeze, almost no bumps, certainly no rattles, squeaks and wobbles so Frankie really enjoyed himself. It worked out to about 10c per kilometre. Since the rain was so heavy Sunday afternoon we just chilled in Frankie and worked out our next move.
Monday morning off for a stroll and have a look at some of the delights of Tivoli, except that today is Monday and all the delights are closed! However, we did notice some of the locals saying bongiourno, a couple even tried to have conversations with us, there was no rubbish in the gutters, there were flower pots hanging on the walls by the shops, it really was as if we had entered a different country and we immediately felt much happier and relaxed. The traffic is just as frenetic but we have worked out the pedestrian crossings, just walk across and let the motorists worry about it.
Here are part of the Gregoriana Gardens, as I said it is closed today and this is all you can see through the railings. It must be really good because you have to pay to get in.
And these are some of the sites that you’re going to see inside.
I bet you don’t get to see many of these!! Unexpected. As you can see it is raining, a bit later we saw a couple of road sweepers, one of them was holding a broom in one hand and an umbrella in the other!! When I say a bit of rain what I mean is the roads were running rivers and we got rather wet.
Another view of the gardens with waterfalls to the left and a real Roman shrine in the middle.
The castle was impressive right in the middle of town but has been closed to the public for a number of years. Lucy wanted to see the Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana so we kindled the rest of the day away and in the evening were treated to a spectacular lightning display.
Tuesday morning and after a heavy night of rain, not helped by having parked under a tree we woke tired and weary and rushed off to the Villa d’Este.
Impressive entrance hall. The villa was built by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, son of Duke Ercole I of Ferrara. Building started in about 1560 and most of the wall and ceiling paintings date from that time however it has been retouched since then, mainly just after the Second World War.
Most of the rooms are decorated like this, either religious images or along themes such as Hope, Faith, Charity, Hospitality, Forgiveness and Health.
The gardens are built into the side of a steep hill which has been terraced and landscaped with water features. Fountains are around every corner.
Or along paths. There are fountains at each end of this path. Water is reused as it descends the hill.
The gardens weren’t huge and it was amazing how many different types of fountains were contained within it’s walls.
Three fish lakes as well.
And the view back up to the main house.
Large waterfalls at one end of the path you saw earlier.
And this is the main waterfall, famous to anyone who has studied the guide book.
We managed to get all the way around the gardens before the heavens opened again so we rushed back to Frankie and made our way down the steep hill (and frantic traffic in Tivoli) to our next destination, the Villa Adriana, built by Hadrian, the grandest palace complex ever built in Italy. The palace is larger than the ancient city centre of Rome itself. We had the whole afternoon to examine it which our guide book says was rushing it a bit but as we arrived the heavens opened again and continued for a good hour. We reluctantly decided to give it a miss and head off for our next stop.
We’re spending tonight and tomorrow night in Orvieta, home to the most stupendous cathedral in Italy but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
Today’s wine of the day is one of Umbrias most famous products. Obviously I have gone for the Classico which is grown in the oldest growing zone but it does come at a price. Don’t tell Lucy but it was €12 a bottle. It’s pretty good, you can really taste the Tuscan Trebbiano and Verdello grapes which are dominant. (so says my guide book, to be honest I’m very happy with my €1.99 bottles of plonk but as they say, “when in Rome”, or 70 miles north of it).
We took flight near Naples, now we feel much more comfortable and might slow down a bit now.