John & Judy's France / Italy 2019 Trip travel blog

Greek amphitheater

Handsome actor at the Greek amphitheater

Roman amphitheater

Roman amphitheater where animal and fighters entered

Cute street in Ortega, the old town

Walking the old town of Ortega

Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea

Our three cooks and their pot of mussels

Some of the artifacts and the cast of a survivor at Pompei

Street in Pompei

Fresco over the brothel.

Cobbled street showing the ruts from the chariots and the stepping stones.


Well preserved frescos in Hurculea

Fast food joint in Hurculea. Pots were full of hot food for...

Sorrento by night.

The Amalfi Coast


Positino from a distance

Positano in the background


Having lunch in the Amalfi hinterland.

Our Peugeot Jumpy van - 5576kms

Today we travelled across the center of Sicily from Palermo to Syracuse. The interior of Sicily shows that Sicily is the breadbasket of Italy. Lots of citrus orchards, olive orchards, tomatoes, mixed veggies, and some vineyards. Lots of Eucalyptus and surprisingly Norfolk Pines. Arriving in Syracuse, we have a modern 3 bedroom apartment a short walk from the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Our sleep that night was not that great though. The lion roars kept us awake. Lions? Yep. We have a circus with a big top about 300 meters away from us. The circus is no big deal but the lion(s) stay awake afterwards and roar all night. Don’t know if this is what it is like on safari in Africa but the song ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ is not correct.

Spent the next day exploring Ortega which is the old part of Syracuse. Given that most of Sicily was destroyed by the earthquake of 1692, it is not that old. What wasn’t destroyed was the Greek amphitheater. Not much different to today except the seats are more comfortable today and the theater boxes offer more. Apparently , the theatre has excellent acoustics and is still used for performances today but I would be bringing a cushion along. There was also a Roman amphitheater but this one was used for animal and human fights.

We took a down day here and drove along the coast to the southern tip of Sicily. As the temp was in the 30’s we had a swim in the Mediterranean Sea. We also had with us a picnic lunch, but there are no picnic tables there. We did find a restaurant by a marina that had closed for the season so availed ourselves of the use of their table and chairs outside. Our last night in Sicily the guys surprised us by cooking mussels for dinner. It was delicious.

Back to the mainland and on to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, our final stop before Rome.

The Amalfi is very picturesque but unfortunately, there is no place to stop to take pictures on the winding road. Our driver did not take us into Positano as it is very difficult to maneuver a van so missed on the most picturesque part of it.

Our first day in Sorrento we took a train out to Pompei. Pompeii was covered by ash and lava from the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. The excavations have given us a glimpse into the life of the people of this time. Pompei is very large. What was amazing to me, was that this entire city has been painstakingly excavated by archeologists. There was no mention, as far as I know, of how long it took but it must have been years and years. We were told of mummified bodies that were found but in actual fact, they found hollow areas underfoot that had been created by the decay of the bodies. They filled these hollows with a ‘plaster’ then exposed them and they took on the shape of the living being and in the position he/she was when they were covered. We also went to Herculea, another town buried by the eruption. This city had warning of what was happening. Many people took refuge in the storage areas cut into the rock by the sea thinking they were safe, but they succumbed to the gases and extreme heat. Their bones are still visible in the positions they were in when they died.

Sorrento was very much like a Surfers Paradise without the beach and surf. Lots of tourists and everything that comes with it. We were able to walk around at night though and have things to see and find our way back home.

We arrived in Rome and drove to the airport where we surrendered our Jumpy van back to Peugeot. Despite our problems with the battery, it has served us well. We started with 6 kms on the odometer and finished with 5,581 kms. It took the six of us and ALL the luggage (and there was lots of it) to wherever we wanted to go for six weeks.

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