There's not many places like Firenze/Florence.
Already some 24 years ago on my own hitch hiking through Europe Florence attracted/fascinated me, especially its cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore with its green and white marble and brick cupola. I remember those "cool" people that sat on its steps, soaking up the light of the setting sun. In peoples back the dome's colors shine and glimmer. I have come back many many times with all those women in my life. And it always takes your breath when you turn one street corner and then he is there. Enormous.
By and large Florence has maintained its magic. Just a pity, but the boys would not understand standing in line for an hour to get into the Uffizi Gallery. I have been inside many times before. Maybe we return some day. Maybe then the boys understand the inside as well.
But maybe then the masses of tourists will require us standing in line even longer. Florence on Wikipedia.
No Piazza like Il Campo in Siena.
Chianti Classico, Brunello and Vino Nobile.
In Castellina in Chianti, I buy a bottle of Chianti Classico Reserva 2000, 100% San Giovese they claim. And we settle early for a fresh Tagliatelle and pomodoro sauce of huge, fleshy, fresh and some dried tomatos, well spiced with peperoncini, creamy through prime virgin olive oil.
After Siena the next morning we move on to Montalcino for tasting and buying Brunellos and later in the day to Montepulciano for some Vino Nobile, all those brands indicating pure San Giovese. But still, even better then tasting and buying is getting there, driving the country of hills of vineyards and olive plantations and those tall trees lining the roads.
Really glad we have made the journey. Wikipedia.
Some sacred feel overcomes me when I enter the San Francesco basilica, then descend into the lower a bit more ancient part of it and I hold my breath when going further down the steps to the krypt and then stand right in front of the saints tomb. Wikipedia.
Carrying the kids proves really efficient. Entering churches, busses and trains is so much easier. And the boys know well when is their time to just be quiet and sleep.
Cool town, with lots of students an tourists sitting on the cathedral steps drinking beer. We do likewise. I think this is where I'll sent my boys to university.
Its hilly location requires a good effort with a double pram, But it proves worth it. Wikipedia.
No cathedral like Orvieto.
So glad we stopped here as well. Wikipedia. The whole line opposite the duomo is for seating. And people sit down, astounded by the beauty, inhaling the view of what they thought impossible. We too spend a good hour alowing the impressions to settle.
Time that we get to Roma/Rome, the Vatican.
Never before in Italy I went that far south. Wikipedia.
And Rome only - would take a lifetime to explore. And we spend only a day. It is pretty difficult entering by car, and leaving it somewhere half secure, but still easier then taking the bus with a double pram.
Well it is Rome where I feel at home. This is the capital, big enough, Romans open enough. It will have to be Rome then where I send my boys to university.
In St. Peters we go to pains and climb the 300 and something steps to the top of the cupola with the two boys. You have to make an effort when you want to be close to heaven/god.
Inside the kypta in front of Karol Wojtyla's tomb an aura of sainthood, something mystical/sacred is exhaled. I did not agree with all he said but he undoubtedly was a very impressive personality of the 20th century.
There is many sights and towns that we did not see on this Italian journey, or just rushed. But just one I really regret not having seen. The Sistine Chapel. The place where they vote the pope with its Michelangelo frescos ... We will come back to Rome.
A couple of things indicating we are approaching Naples: We come from the north following the Tyrrhenian Coast. Clandestinos of African origin and police looking for them, some patches where prostitutes line the streets and 3rd a lot of rubbish piling up on street corners as if not collected for weeks (which is true/a strike/a dispute of where to dump it).
None worries us much. Rather where will we spend the night? Most campsites are yet to open. So we drive across Naples, around its bay, some 30km after in Vico Equense just before Sorento we find the very hospitable San Antonio Camping.
We come back to Naples by train, carrying the boys in cloth. They're so quiet, cooperative, just sweat a bit in their sleep when being carried.
Naples is cool, the food superb and cheap. But you want to live in Rome, not the province. Naples on Wikipedia.
We also return to Pompeii by train again carrying the boys.
Busloads of toursits, where do they all come from? Unless I arrive by helicopter or yacht, I won't come back here anymore. Overrated and they say overpriced, and rendered disgusting by the busloads ....
And they did not alow us through on the Costiera Amalfitana on our way to Positano. Well they hate camper vans. So do I.
Paestum. this is Greek.
A must see, timed it well for evening light, been lucky with weather. Strong winds push away the last clowds. It rains a bit still, but air is clear. And there are fewer tourists around here. Fewer the further we go south. Wikipedia.
Next morning, first morning that is bright as it should be. The wind has blown strongly, pushed away all clowds. We see a sea, we envie a beach, but it should take a little longer till we'd actually get onto one.
We reach a first final destination on the 19th of May: Camigliatello near Cosenza in the Sila, a mountainous, un-mediteranean mountain massive in the heart of Calabria. It rains constantly. End of May temperatures at night just around 5°C. This is very normal, Hasna's uncle explains. "It's just July and August that sees sun. In winter we have up to 3 metres of snow". There's ski slopes nearby.
Abdekader has left Morocco a long time ago, and settled/married just here. He speaks Calabrese fluently and has become Italian or rather Calabrian in so many other ways. In his macelleria (butcher's) he makes a great prosciutto Silano and his salcicce is said to be the best in in town.
And red wine here comes in 5 and 10 litre bottles.
The Giro d'Italia continues.
Am I boring you yet?? The real stuff, the African journey resumes in September.
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We are small publishing company and we are in the process of putting together a book on Italian life a culture called 'Speak the culture' . It will be part of a series of books 3 of which have already been published. We would like to use the picture you have taken of the rubbish in the streets of Naples in 2007. The size will be approx 50 x 80mm in black and white. Would it be possible to use this image if we were to credit you and also send you a free copy when we print it? Many thanks