ITALY, June 2002
I have been to Italy twice in my life. The first time was in 1972 as part of my travels round Europe as a student, and the second time was in summer 2002 when Eileen and I had a holiday there, on the Amalfi coast. The place hardly seemed to have changed in 30 years, Italy feels to me like a country in a time warp, not that that is any bad thing I suppose. We avoided the bigger resorts, and stayed in a small town called Minori, which was charming. We also did something unusual for us, in that we stayed in a hotel. I am not a big fan of hotels, much preferring to stay self catering, or in a rented house or such, but this was a great little hotel, mostly full of Italians, always a good sign. The food was simple, but delicious. It was called the Hotel Santa Lucia, and I found via Thompsons "Small & Friendly" brochure. Recommended.
Equally surprising was the we went on a couple of organised excursions, again the sort of thing I normally avoid like the plague, and again was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. We did the trip to Rome, with the inevitable Vatican, Coliseum, Trevi Fountain and all that, and I'm glad I went, although I personally did not like Rome. I have never seen a historic city so hideously defaced by graffiti, I hated it, and it gave the whole place a rather threatening feel I thought. Pompeii on the other hand was breathtaking, somewhere that I would very much like to spend longer exploring and just soaking up the ambience. We then climbed to the top of Vesuvius, which is spectacular, with Naples spread out below you.
Eileen went alone to Naples as I did not feel too great that day, and she lived to tell the tale. The touristy areas may be cute, but the outer areas of places like Naples seem almost like something out of the third world to me.
The last series of photos here were taken in Ravello, high in the hills above Amalfi, and truly glorious. We took a taxi up, and then walked back down through the ancient network of footpaths and donkey trails that cover the hillsides.