A Travellerspoint blog

Pompei

sunny 9 °C
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There are more interesting things than summarizing a visit to Pompei, but despite the tourist buzzle it is still fascinating to walk through the ancient 2000+ years old streets on this 250 years old excavation site to see what the first documented natural disaster of human history in 79 AD did to 'freeze' a day in the life of a city for posterity. See my walk through the ruins in extremely high resolution and enjoy some amazing bird-eye view archeology: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=131762
The price of the ticket is 11€ (2009). The excavation site is big enough to easily get away from the crowds (e.g. school kids in groups), but be prepared to find most houses - including some of the more interesting sites - locked. My traveller's tip is to go up to the town fortification near the Herculaneum Gate (Porta Ercolanea) and the Necropolis, which is off the signposted track for the audio-guided visitors and enjoy a good view of the entire western part of the excavations as well as some sun-preheated benches to take a rest after all the walking....

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Sun dial series, part 2: this one is part of the Apollo temple in Pompei

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... and this picture you have probably seen in school ...

Posted by Lent 10:19 Archived in Italy Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

From Sicily to Salerno across the Tyrrhenian Sea

sunny 8 °C
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After late evening train ride back to Messina, I had a very late night check-in there for B&T ferries to Salerno, departure time 1.30 am! Despite the inconvenient travel time, B&T offers a brandnew and very clean ship, occupied mostly by truckers at this time of the year. Upon arrival in the morning one has an excellent view of the coast of Amalfi stretching westwards from the city of Salerno. Check-out procedures in Salerno are not made for pedestrians; elsewhere in Europe walking in the harbour area is strictly forbidden, but here there is no other way to exit the port and enter the city.
The coast of Amalfi is even more impressive on a bus ride (Salerno-Amalfi, ca. one hour). The ticket is only 1.90€ and it is worth the price, unless you have a sensitive stomach. On endless serpentines the bus driver honks its way through the narrow curves high over the sea and if you don't dare to look down to the sea, look up to the towering cliffs with suspending stalactites and the beautiful citrus orchards on very narrow terraces. Easy to understand that Amalfi easily defended its independence from Salerno and Naples for many centuries and in due to its inaccessibility from the landward side based its power and prosperity on sea trade. The Amalfian seafarers by the way invented the magnetic compass needle!
Watch the route from Amalfi to Salerno along Maiori, Minori and Vietri here: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=131283 If you decide to watch my track recording in Google Earth, there is no need to exaggerate the profile elevation. Even without you get more than an idea of this spectacular 3D landscape.
Salerno has a lot of things to offer, not least a very recent and stylishly refurbished youth hostel in a 17th century building in the middle of town.

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Sun dial opposite the cathedral in Amalfi

Posted by Lent 14:29 Archived in Italy Tagged bus Comments (0)

Siracusa

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Yesterday Etna's black lava, today the white limestones and marbles of Greek antiquity in Siracusa. The train journey from Catania takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes; the bus on the way back is going more slowly. From the Highway I had a beautiful view of snow-topped and majestic Mt. Etna in the evening sun. (Yesterday and the day before the top was in cloud cover for most of the time.)
The touristical main items of Siracusa revolve around the ancient Greek past and Santa Lucia and her ancient cult (a thing that Swedish speaking people know to appreciate). I just about managed to get into the Archeological Park containing the Greek Theatre as well as a Roman Amphitheatre. Beware: last entry in wintertime is 3pm and the ticket 8€. The early christian catacombes at San Giovanni were Chiuso when I arrived in the afternoon and the Archeological Museum Chiuso per Restauro.
For readers of my earlier blog: a bit of Greek antiquity is a good excuse to commemorate the upcoming first anniversary of the great and unforgettable BalticCycle Bike Ride from Greece to China. In case you haven't seen it: http://lent.travellerspoint.com/10/
In Catania I had the pleasure to meet Fernando from Spain who has been cycling through Spain, France and Italy for the past 8 or so months and he has toured from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego on bicycle in previous years.

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Siracusa - Parco Archeologico

Watch my walk through the archeological park: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=131282

Posted by Lent 10:24 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Etna

Skiing over the lava currents

snow -2 °C
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Bus at 8.15 am from the Railway Station in Catania, taking three passengers up to Rifugio Sapienza at 2000m on the southern slope of Mt. Etna. The snow hides many of the geological features at this time of the year, but the skiing area was reconstructed after the 2002/03 eruptions and in fact on top of the lava created then. Well visible from the slope are the Silvestro craters created in 2001.
On the way back down to Catania stopover in Nicolosi (700m), that hosts the Etna volcanolgy museum. Well worth visiting, but the opening hours do not really conform with the timetable of the only bus per day that comes down from Rifugio (gets to Nicolosi after 5 pm, museum closes at 5.30 pm).

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Virgin rock below your skis. Craters date from 2001.

For ski slope profile: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=129853

Posted by Lent 12:01 Archived in Italy Tagged bus Comments (0)

Circumetnea

Railing around Etna

semi-overcast 4 °C
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Walking past the main sights of ancient, baroque (destroyed and rebuilt in 1698, that's why) and Vincenzo Bellini Catania in the morning. Departing on the narrow gauge railway line in a rail bus from the Circumetnea station near Piazza Cavour. 6.75 € for the entire 110 km trip around the volcano from Catania to Giarre including a short stopover at Andrano and a rather long one in Randazzo later in the afternoon. Italians keep theit Siesta even at chilly winter temperatures (light snow on the ground beyond 800m); so there wasn't much to do or to see especially in Randazzo.

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The train climbs up to 960m and on its journey passes vinyards, lavafields and ancient towns. There are no tourists around at this time of the year but this privately run railway line serves the population in some fairly remote villages on the foot of Etna.
At the final stop in Giarre down at the coast I spent considerable time waiting for the regular FS train back to Catania, as trains frequently late or services cancelled.

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On the Circumetnea track in Adrano

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Circumetnea terminal in Catania

Posted by Lent 12:13 Archived in Italy Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

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