S & S’s giro d’Italia

Here’s a recap of our recent jaunt around Italy. It’s a country bursting with amazing places, so it was impossible for us to see everything in two-and-a-half-weeks (we skipped Florence and Venice), but we packed in a fair bit.

Palermo I’d wanted to visit Sicily for so long and what better place to start than the capital? Palermo is an assault on the senses. It’s noisy, chaotic and relentless… and that’s just the traffic. Norman, Arabic and Phoenician influences are everywhere (Sicily has been conquered by many) and there’s so much to look at. Palermo doesn’t have many major attractions like Rome and Milan it’s a city for visiting and living. We spent four nights here but I could have stayed for weeks. Oh, did I mention I had the best espresso of my life here? What a city!

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Our hotel on Via Roma – right in the thick of it.

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L: Sword fish that stopped us in our tracks! R: A chaotic flea market just down the road.

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L: Arancini balls. R: Tonight’s seafood selection.

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Pane con la milza (spleen sandwich) – a Palermo street specialty.

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Dinner in the back streets.

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L: Teatro Massimo – where the Godfather trilogy came to a messy conclusion. R: Outside the theatre…

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A lovely afternoon/evening at Mondello beach.

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The train to/from Sicily goes on a ferry between the island and the mainland!

Naples –  Loud, dirty and unruly, Naples is a city with a seedy reputation that’s somewhat unjustified. We stayed in a rough neighbourhood just down from central station but didn’t feel threatened at any time, even when walking back at night. Naples’ best asset is the UNESCO old town. We took a hairy walk down Spaccanapoli (the main street), which is jammed with traders pushing trolleys of goods and scooters zipping around pedestrians. Via San Gregorio Armenio (the street of the Nativity) is also something to behold. Having said all of that, Naples was our least favourite stop-over. It’s not a bad place by any means, we just had more fun elsewhere. It was a great base to explore Pompeii though!

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L: Naples’ old town. R: Kids play football in this makeshift field every afternoon.

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Mt Vesuvius – the volcano which buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79.

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A day at Pompeii.

Rome We don’t usually visit big attractions, but with Rome of course we made an exception. I thought we might be selling ourselves short with only three nights there, but it was pretty much spot on. It seems that everywhere you look in Rome, there’s something to see… You’d need weeks to cover it all. I was so buggered on our last night that I passed on seeing the Pope!

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L: Near the Spanish Steps in the middle of a massive downpour. R: Riding the bus home.

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L: The Colosseum. C: The Pantheon. R: Looking down town.

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L: Coffee at the famous Caffè Sant’Eustachio. R: Tazza D’Oro – another lauded coffee spot.

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L: Vatican City. C: The queue for St. Peter’s Basilica. R: Dusk falls.

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Siobhan was blessed by the Pope!

Siena –  This has to be Italy’s prettiest city! We spent most of our stay exploring the myriad streets inside the walls, but you could visit Siena and just walk about and still fall in love with the place. A mandatory stop on anyone’s Tuscan itinerary.

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Good morning Tuscany!

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L: Duomo di Siena (Siena Cathedral). R: Weathered iron.

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L: Outside a very cool meat shop with a real hog’s head! C: Porcini mushrooms. R: What a gelato display!

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Piazza del Campo – this is the nicest public square I’ve visited in Europe.

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L: Pretty as a picture. R: New hat from Siena!

Rapallo The Italian Riviera promised so much but all we got was bucketloads of rain and wind. It was a good thing we only booked two nights here the weather shut down the famous cable car to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro and swimming was out of the question. We took the bus down to Santa Margherita Ligure but it was howlin’ I tell you! Look at my hair!

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Santa Margherita Ligure – a rough day for sightseeing!

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Wet and windy on the Italian Riviera.

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L: The sun tries to break through. R: Rapallo’s Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea).

Next time we’ll be coming to you from southern France. If you like animals you won’t want to miss this!

Stephen.

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4 thoughts on “S & S’s giro d’Italia

  1. Pingback: France, we meet again… | Musings of the Pengo Pair

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