382-288: Rutlandish

382 – Tuesday 24th May 2016:  John Smedley and that’s NOT a Beer!

Last night when we arrived at our CL site, we were relatively late, after 5.00.  Down a longish, up and down lane, fortunately signed with the Caravan Club all the way to a five bar gate.  A note attached with our names on it.  Take Pitch 1, welcome, oh and by the way, rubbish reception here so if you have a TV here’s a cable into our system.  Spot on – no internet, phone or text and we were here 3 nights – GRR!  Peaceful though.

Today we both ran.  Sun is out and it is warm.  Table and chairs made an appearance from under the bed and we decided on a leisurely soak up the rays day.  By late afternoon this was beginning to pall on us and clouds had appeared, so we wandered down the lane to the factory.  It had been whirring last night and was in full whirring mode now.  John Smedley, fine knits since 1794 and some of the buildings definitely dated from then.  We perused the factory shop just before closing and K came away with two long sleeved cotton jumpers.  My excuse for the wanton expenditure … they were only a tenner each and I am soooo feeling the cold and have insufficient long sleeved tops!  Conversation about Brexit with the 40 yr old shop assistant – cotton comes from New Zealand via Italy where it is cleaned and dyed.  Japan, Germany and Italy are their major markets.  He had not travelled much but firmly believed we had a lot to learn from other European cultures, especially when it comes to looking after and being involved with family.  Enough excitement for one day so we returned to our pitch.


383 – Wednesday 25th May 2016:  Remembering and Trams

I dreamt of Nicky again last night – I do about once a week.  But more often at the moment as today would have been her 51st birthday.  

Weather windier and cloudy so we decided to drive to Crich Tramway Village, the National Tram Museum.  A short drive, but it meant we could connect to the wifi as the signal on our site was non-existent.  After the internet and phone jobs we paid the pricey sum of £28 for our annual tickets which included J’s senior discount.  The enthusiasts started collecting trams back in the 50’s just as they were being decommissioned across the country.  Mostly British, but some overseas and all in pristine condition.  Most of them have been restored to running order and on our visit 3 trams were running.  We handed over our 2d coins (given to us with the entry tickets) and were given a day ticket to freely ride aboard the trams.  The main exhibition was quite interesting as it explained how trams developed from horse drawn, steam tractor drawn and finally to electric.  Their demise was partly due to the war but mostly due to introduction of cheaper to build and run motor busses.  Including lunch, we were actually only in the museum for just over 2 hours, so not really worth the money unless you can visit several times in the year with small children.

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Seriously layered up for the wind and cold

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No, don’t reckon Dr Who ran this on electric!

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The restoration of each tram was flawless.  Hours of work.


384 – Thursday 26th May 2016:  Wildcamping Meet in Rutland

A leisurely start as we only had to drive 1.5 hrs to Rutland Water.  Rutland is the smallest county in England and only really had anything to offer visitors after the valley was flooded in the 1970’s and the reservoir generated an outdoor leisure industry .  K camped here (under canvas) about 9 years ago with Maddy and Kerstin – we managed to persuade Maddy to go on the back of a very heavy hired tandem to cycle around the Water … it was hard work as I’m not sure how much cycling M actually did!  The purpose for our trip is to join a Wildcamping.co.uk meet … a chance to meet like minded motorhomers and pick their brains on places to go and tips.


385 – Friday 27th May 2016:  Exercised Out

We ran, K did pilates and then we cycled around the Water, with a detour to Oakham to buy some beers.  One would think cycling around a reservoir would be flat, but no … lots of smallish ups and downs.  We nearly aborted the full circuit, but a chap at the information centre assured us we had completed the most difficult part.  Scenery OK, but not a patch on Derbyshire.  Once back at the site, we commenced consuming the slightly warm and shaken beers!

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Normanton Church:  preserved from flooding by a retaining wall.  Now a small museum and a wedding venue.


386:  Saturday 28th May 2016:  Race Day!

J had identified a 5 km Park Run along part of the Water.  We’ve since since discovered that this is a 9.00 a.m. free timed event held in multiple locations up and down the country.  Knowing how bumpy the ride along the shore was, we elected to drive to the start … Chardonnay also gave us all our facilities to change in after.  We arrived in good time and walked to the start … no one there!  They started to arrive with 10 mins to go …. no registration at the event; you have to register online and print a bar code.  We’d done neither, to we would get a place and time, but not with our name next to it.  A really easy flat run, the only difficulty was to avoid some of the sheep deposits!  For a man who watches his feet and not scenery when he runs, J managed to pick up a lot of poo!  138 runners and we both improved on our times and positions from 2 weeks ago:  J 35th with 1.25 minutes faster and K 100th and 2.25 mins faster with a final sprint to ’take’ someone.  We shall be on the look out for more races.

An easy afternoon chatting to our lovely neighbours Roy and Doreen.  The only ‘event’ laid on was a cream tea which was a serious overload in sugar, but we also met a couple who will be at the Inverness meet in June, which we will also attend.  


287:  Sunday 29th May 2016:  A Couple of Changes of Plan

We planned to go to the Burghley House Game and Country Fair, via Tescos and buying some diesel.  By the time we’d got up, K had done Pilates and we’d done our shopping, our ETA was 1.45, so it seemed sensible to go to Plan B.  A quick look at the National Trust App and we selected the Priest’s House in Easton on the Hill.  

The Priest’s House is only small and entry is by knocking on designated key holder’s doors.  We tried the nearest and spoke the key holder’s parents who told us that everyone was at the village Gala. OK, Plan C.  We went to the village Gala.  Only small, but they served beer & cider and burgers & hog roast.  A few stalls, singers and bands of very mixed musical talent and the best of all … maypole dancing.  Yes, there was a little tangle at one point and the instructor had to get involved, but lovely.


The Priest’s House.  Where is everyone?



 Never thought of specialising in mole removal as a career!

288 – Burghley House Game and Country Fare

We set the alarm for 7.00 and fell asleep till gone 9.00.  Oops – we really are not accustomed to early starts!  Never mind – straight to Burghley Park and being a motorhome we were parked right by the entrance.  Result – normally motorhomes are parked in the furthest out of the way point.  Three arenas with different non stop displays.  Lots of crafts and shops – conscious that we need to buy Christmas gifts before Sept, unless I ask Mutt to wrap them again (she’s already warned me off that), we embarked on a minor spending spree.  A really lovely event – we both really enjoyed the displays.


How to dress a crab in the Food Kitchen.


Would that be a rare species of chef crab?


Falconary with a difference … with a ferret and dog.


Sheepdog …


… Duckdog!  Seriously stunning how well trained all these animals are … can’t begin to imagine how many hours.

1100791Horse-boarding – a new one on us, but fun to watch, especially when they took a corner too fast or died on the jump!








Home, Jobs and Girlie Camping

260 – April 15 2015:  Crossed Back to the UK

An easy drive up to Eurotunnel, only later to discover that my Aged P’s had arrive early from their France and Spain trip and were on the same train!  We over nighted with the lovely Ian and Jimmy and had a booze ridden evening with them (not Jimmy aged 6) and Nicky’s parents Ruth and Brian.  

We had expected the traffic to be horrendous, but somehow it seemed worse than we expected, especially when we were hailed on … and it felt soooo cold!

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Welcome back to Blighty and the M25!

Blog Gap Summary ….

Our two weeks seeing family and friends and some jobs became doing lots of jobs and some family and friends.  Our out-going tenants from our main property had left the house in a pretty bad way – such as rips in wall paper, thumb tack holes everywhere, missing items, damaged lawn, stains in furniture and fireplace and wait for it  …. all 3 mattresses stained from pee and menstruation!  Just what are some people like?!?!  GRR!  So we ended up having to coordinate trades to build a partitioning the double garage, shift soft furnishings etc into a self store and other items up to the Aged P’s attic … they are not allowed to downsize and move for years!  Anyway, after decorators, repairers, cleaners (professional and us), the house is now clean and presentable, ready to let again.  But this time unfurnished!  

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A jigsaw of furniture being expertly packed into 80 m2

We and Chardonnay are fully MOT’s and serviced and good to go … almost.  The Habitation Service identified damp so we are booked in again at the start of June for this and few other bits and bobs to be done.  This means we will not make it up to Scotland as soon as we had planned.

We did get to spend time with a lot of family and friends, but at one point we had been out partying 9 nights out of 11 and then getting up early to do chores.  Driving up and down between Bristol and K’s parents house near Aldershot.  Maddy’s 18th Birthday and James’ birthday celebrations – two days apart and in two locations … burning the candle both ends and in the middle.  Student times again but without the youth … we were totally knackered!

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We managed to scoff quite a number of these … 

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Running and Pilates took a real back seat over the fortnight, but this was one of the Basingstoke Canal runs we did manage.

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We’d arrived just in time for the wild Spring flowers 🙂

Girlie Camping is an institution for K and her oldest friends (length of knowing not their age!).  We’ve been camping in Eype, Dorset (or Symonds Yat for about 30 years).  We missed it last years as I was away and to be honest, it would have been too poignant so soon after Nicky’s death.  The good news was that the non-camping Gill not only agreed to join us, but booked it!  

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Four go mad in Dorset:  we actually managed to get off the campsite this time in between our consumptions of salty and sweet snacks …

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… and just a little of the liquid stuff!

As this is ‘Girlie Camping’, no men are allowed unless they are castrated (a hangover rule from one of my previous dogs), so James was left in Bristol finalising the house cleaning!  Gold star to that man.

322-324: In the Footsteps of the Grand Tour

322 – Monday 7th March 2016:  Hangover Day!

Hangover Day !  One offers no comment, but….. Damnbuca ! – or Samnbusters!!!  As my delicate flower was not in full bloom, I piloted our cruise ship towards Tivoli after a bit of a ripoff in parking fees for our overnight in Damnscati – sorry, Frascati.  The identified parking area (for day and overnight) was jam packed! Cars parked on pavements and all over the shop…..  We sat and waited – tried a few difficult angles – and sat and waited…. K went to find a Bancomat – and on her way back, saw a good parking possibility.  She saw off all comers – and guarded 4 car park spaces (she acknowledged the well-wishers comments) – while I reversed the craft into our new space…  Lunch and then walkabout in Tivoli – there didn’t seem to be much to look at (next day, we realised we had missed the Centro Storico).  Quiet-ish evening – a minor boombox and some young folks cavorting nearby…….


323 -Tuesday 8th March 2016:  Tivoli, Frescos and Two Gardens

Our Tivoli area was not suitable for running – but hilling ! Shortish run – rain and quite cold.  We walked to Villa D’Este – sporadic precipitation – posh that, eh?. And for some reason free for K – ladies free.  Cardinal Ippolitto built the villa (Mass offerings must have been good then) and furnished it luxuriantly – lots of rooms with frescoes and friezes. The art and gardens dropped K’s jaw so many times – that she developed – wait for it – “dropjaw”!  A bit obvious that…  Not surprising that it’s the most photographed site in Tivoli – not K’s jaw – the villa!  


Her exposed!


Not often he is exposed too!  


Seriously stunning friezes on ceilings and walls.  Jaw droopingly good.


Part of the view.


Once in the gardens, there was water playing, jetting and bubbling everywhere.  Seriously stunning gardens too.  Jaw droopingly good!









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Through the Centro Storico – to the Villa Gregoriana – spectacular steep gardens and mega waterfalls – where Villa D’Este was cultured art – this one was rough hewn and no less beautiful.  Both of the sites were on the Grand Tour and we can see why.  if in Rome, definitely worth a trip out.  Rain torrential by now, but since we are members of FAI (Italian National Trust) it was free to us so we planned to scoot through … but it was a long way down and then back up again.  Not so much of a scoot as a slither and clamber.

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Down in the Valley of Hell … full of myth and mystery.  Ancient temples at the top.

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And some natural waterfalls.

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Can anyone else see the face in this tufa rock?


324 – Wednesday 9th March 2016:  Swimming around Villa Adriana (Hadrian)

We could say “Hail Adrian” – but it was heavyesque rain, not hail…  We had parked overnight just outside the Villa car park – and at dawn (well 0900 hours) we slotted our Chard into the days parking. The weather was distinctly Brizzle – not drizzle !  We put on so many layers – Eskimo people !  Inside layers, waterproof trousers, heavy socks and proper walking boots – oh, and a twinky red Ljubljana umbrella!  It matched my….somethingorother…  We squelched our way around the very impressive villa – no, this is no villa – it’s a medium sized town – a minor Erculano!  Hadrian disliked the official residence in Rome and built the villa here – he ruled the empire from here for some time – and kept in touch with Rome – via the postal service!  In early AD?  (Minor digression here – in DC – Dublin City – in the 1890’s, it was possible to post a letter in the morning – it was received by your friend in the afternoon – and you could get the reply the following morning!)  Almondsbury Post Office, take note…

Anyway, one of the first features we saw included an ornate (and swimming) pool – 98 metres long by 18 metres wide – that’s 300 feet by 50 feet! See last photo in the sequence below.  The rain seemed to ease at times – and then resumed but our weather protection stood up well.  The many school groups (students were free entry) were lively and vocal – a day out of classes – why not?  More houses, very clever use of water, “Hospitalia” – which I assumed was a hospital – but in fact was a hospitality suite for guests of the Emperor.  This is serious Roman architecture – from more than 2000 years ago – much still standing – will Canary Wharf last for 2000 years?  The site is about 150 hectares in all.   In spite of the rain (which did ease), a memorable visit indeed. 


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Fully sou’westered up.

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A lot of running water to create a nice ambience for Villa residents and guests.  There was a summer dining area at the end.

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These structure are from around 123AD … and a lot is still standing, even if the marble and statues have gone (mostly to various museums and to the Villa d’Este).

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Rain easing.

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Finally worked out how to change the exposure on the little camera as had not wanted to bring one of the decent ones given the weather.

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301 – 308 : A Flying Trip Home, Scultures & Tunnels

301 –  Monday 15th February 2016:  Troia to Naples

We had a wander around Troia after a run …. a long hill down and an even longer hill back up.  A fairly ordinary small town, but THE most amazing rose window on the Duomo.  We popped into the TIC to say thank you to Troia for the excellent free motorhome parking and were rewarded by massive grins and then they pressed a leaflet about Troia on us.  As we thought, nothing here really other than the Rose window.


Troia Cathedral – Elegant with green marble touches.


The fantastical Rose Window.


Mind altering drugs surely?


Dragons on the original bronze doors.

I have been desperate to cook lamb … we‘ve not had any since we left over 301 days ago!  We found the butcher and asked … no lamb.  In fact not much of anything really … yes two cuts of pork and beef, whole chickens and one type of sausage.  We bought sausages and I put them in the slow cooker to cook as we drove to Napoli.  We were to meet up with Frances and Edward, who we met several times in Sicily – they are heading back home faster than us and we knew they would overtake us at some point.

The scenery was pretty coming across rolling hills and patchwork emerald fields … the guide book describes the hill down from Troia as a crinoline. 

One on the motorway, we should a been spat out about 100m from the entrance to the Spartacus Campsite … however a minor navigational error / interpretation and we ended up coming through some miles of normal streets.  When we were in Naples at the end of October, we had thought that the driving was atrocious and really dangerous.  But that was before the best part of three months in Sicily … the driving left us completely unshaken.  Although some of the deep potholes shook up all our cupboards!

At the campsite we were recognised by Rosa on reception and we installed ourselves in the same pitch.  The Italian sausage casserole finished off and the aubergine parmigiana completed and F and E joined us for supper.  it MUST have been a good night … nearly 5 bottles of wine, half a bottle of Marsala and three quarters a bottle of Sambucca!  I know I passed out rather than went to sleep.


302 – Tuesday 16th February 2016:  A few chores

We stayed on the campsite other than to walk to the train station to buy tickets and check the times and then onto the super market to buy a large number of Milka chocolate bars for Munchkin … special request.  Two loads of laundry and J suffered his most unpopular job …. dying my hair.  It must have sparked something as we spotted a French couple of ladies hair dying later on.  I would have offered J’s expert services, but …


303 Wednesday 17th February 2016:  K Home to Munchkin

Is it a work day?  Feels like it.  Alarm set for 6.00 a.m.!  Train into Naples and AliBus to the airport.  We are old hands at it and knew the route.  

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I was slightly concerned on arrival at Gatwick to see the snow plough all ready.

 Maddy picked me up from the train station … not the one I intended getting off at though!  I was chatting to a chap with a brace of Springer Spaniels (I used to have my own brace of liver and white Springers) …. and only realised my mistake when M rang me and asked where the xxxx was I?  A bit of food shopping for supper and for some items I can’t seem to buy in Italy, such as cuppasoup, mixed herbs, coriander leaf, cream of coconut and Bert’s Bees lip salve.

We installed ourselves at my Aged P’s house … they are in South Africa, but trusted it to us!  I had my emailed and printed instructions …. Mutt was not leaving anything to chance!  Alarm, water on, heating controls.  As the house had been empty for a few weeks, it was perishing.  M and I snuggled on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet and watched a film.  After supper, M went off to a ‘gathering’ and I did some chores and had a luxurious bath …. Mutt, I forgot to tell you I found your Radox!  Our house in Bristol has a shoe box for a bath so I always showered there, and other than a couple of baths last August in a hotel in Tuscany, I reckon this was the first bath in about 4 years!  Bloody marvellous, with a bottle of red and Handel’s Water Music playing.

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Just before I went to bed I collected everything together I would need for tomorrow and found a hand written note from Dad.  He had laid the fireplace all ready for us to light … this would have warmed the house up in no time!  If only!!!


304 – Thursday 18th February 2016:  Jobs and Sculptures

I collected a parcel from Yodel in Farnborough and popped in to see Michelle, an old school friend – she was in Geneva, but Craig was at home and gave me a coffee … they also have a beautiful brace of Springers :).  B&Q for fuses as we blew a couple trying to get our electric heater working using a two to three pin convertor.  Rang Maddy and she met me at the Aged P’s house … having just arisen!  After lunch we dropped one of my grandmother’s ring’s off to be repaired … it will be part of Maddy’s 18th birthday gift.  

We then went to tripAdvisor’s top Farnham attraction… the Sculpture Park.  About 1000 sculptures crammed in along a walk around two small lakes.  I was given a catalogue, so had I been interested, I could have purchased any.  They ranged from the bad … a stack of plastic breadbaskets, to some really creative pieces.  Maddy is doing photography A Level and saw the potential here for her project.

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Maddy rutting with some stags!

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Yes, this really is a statue of someone peeing …. I brought home a Shewee …. will trial it and let you know … should save crouching!

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Maddy’s new best friend.

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A nano rest on one of the exhibits!

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A large piece, one of my favourites, but M thought the heads looked like black heads!

Coffee with the Bakers and their two Spaniels, Cockers this time.  Louis’ espresso is nearly at Italian standards and Zozo, you still have half an inch to go till you’re as tall as I!  A curry delivered … I’d not had a pukka curry for over 2 years … absolutely fantastic!  And another bath (with Radox)!


305 – Friday 19th February 2016:  Napoli and more Scultpures

An early pick up at 5.00 a.m.  Maddy drove home in her dressing gown and slippers … wonder if she was going to return to bed?!?  J met me in the centre of Naples with another rucksack so he could take some of the weight from mine … what a lovely thinking man!  We lunched on Pizza … really good and then went to the Archaeological Museum which contains most of the statues, mosaics and frescos removed from Pompeii and Herculaneum.  The Farnese Collection is here, which includes some stunning works.  Unfortunately about 6 of the galleries were closed and there seemed to be a lot of empty rooms.  Given how much ‘stuff’ they must have stashed, this is a bit sad. 

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J had read reviews that commented on the dust on the sculptures and it was really noticeable on the dark stone, which it made look grey 😦

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Possibly the most stunning part of the collection … the Farnese Bull.  

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A series of rooms were devoted to the Hellenistic Period … essentially Roman pornography.  Lots of very graphic and fanciful images.  This statue was very fine workmanship, not the content! 

306 – Saturday 20th February 2016:  Tunnelling!

Up and at ‘em.  We’d booked a tour with Napolisotterranea of the Greek cisterns which had been used to supply Napoli houses right up till the 1800s and then used as air raid shelters during WW2.  The tour was in English and being the only English speakers, we had the guide to ourselves.  It is not for the unfit of claustrophobic … 40 metres down (but you do exit only 16 metres up :)) and you have to wiggle sideways, and sometimes crouched down, between the cisterns along the water feeder tunnels.  


The stairs were built around the well… this was 40 metres down 


WWII graffitti on the Greek plaster work to make the cisterns water tight.


A bit of a tight squeeze … the guide admitted he does have to tell some tourists that the visit is not for them and one German chap did get stuck! Something to do with his ‘arse’.


The toilets were always near the entrances as people tended to need to relieve them selves – relief at making it to the air raid shelter.  Yes, we asked what happened to the human waste … crack in the tufa and it being absorbent meant it made its way out to sea.


A well earned glass (or two) after those tunnels!

After lunch did another set of water tunnels, but no tight passages.  The Galleria Bourbonica also includes the 430 metre straight tunnel that was built in 1853 for Ferdinand II of Bourbon, who concerned about the outbreak of rebellion, asked for an escape route from his palace to the nearby barracks.  After the war, the tunnels were used as a dump for impounded motorbikes and cars … still there, rusting away.  Two similar but different visits.  



Frances and Edward were still on the same campsite but leaving tomorrow, so they come over for supper and just a little wine!


307 – Sunday 21st February 2016:  Sunday a Day of Rest (and Chores)

A late start.  A run.  Waving off Frances and Edward.  Washing, shopping and other jobs.  A down day – we need one occasionally.


308 – Monday 22nd February 2016 – The best of Naples Sculptures

Run – long for J.  I did a short run and a new Pilates class (downloaded on campsite wifi), but decided that as the instructor lifted her legs and torso back over her head with superb control that perhaps this one is a tad advanced for me!

The main aim was to visit the Capella Sansevero (also known as Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà).  Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence. The building was converted into a family burial chapel in 1613. It includesMasonic symbols in its construction and until 1888 a passageway connected the Sansevero palace with the chapel. Photography was not allowed, so these pix are from the internet.  We were so awed by some of the sculptures we went round twice.

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The Veiled Christ in the middle with the Virtues around the chapel.   

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This was disillusion … could not quite see it but the sculpture was stunning.

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Modesty, I do understand … the veiling was the inspiration for the Veiled Christ below.  We both thought this was possibly one of the best statues we’ve ever seen.

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And this is “Sweetness of the Marital Yoke” Quotation ….’The marble group portrays a fulsome-bellied woman holding a feathered yoke representing sweet obedience, and in her right hand she holds up two flaming hearts (deep mutual love). At her feet a winged putto plays with a pelican, emblem of charity. In mediaeval iconography, in fact, the pelican which pierces its own breast to nurse its young represents the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.’  Not sure J or I would describe the Joys of Marriage in such a way!

Slightly macabre – in the basement are a male and female skeletons with what looks like all the arteries and veins.  Originally it was believed that the creator injected a metal forming substance into the circulatory system, but now it is believed that he created it from beeswax, iron wire and silk.

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And thus concludes our second extended stay in Naples.  We have really fallen for the city.  We love the noise, the business and the chaos.  It is earthy and very real.





287: Matera

 287 – Monday 1st February 2016:  Cave Dwellings – A Hidden Gem

Alarm clocks did their job and up and at ’em – revellie was military style at 0700 hrs – Sgt Major Clune (wo)manning the parade square! – in time to see the sunrise.  And we even had time for a short run – thankfully without 20 kg back packs and rifles – before brekkie.

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Our first destination was a Fiat garage in Matera (to investigate/remedy the engine issue) – skilfully navigated by by Marge and Bread – whoops Marge and Brad!  On arrival at the GPS (no acronyms ? – just wait…)  Right on the coordinates – J driving – K anxiously could not see the Fiat garage – enquired of three passing chaps – in unison and in Italian, they chorussed to her – “it’s behind you” !!! In this case, GPS must be Great Positioning Sense !

After a wait – and due consideration by very polite staff – they informed us that it was not possible to do diagnostic checks on a ‘commercial vehicle’ at their location – but a phone number was provided and we called – and called – could not get through – maybe something to do with our phones…..K’s sister Clare assisted from UK – but we were getting nowhere.  Unbeknown to us – while we were trying to communicate with various numbers, young Chardonnay  (she is only four) obviously got pissed off waiting – and cured the problem herself !  No sign of the engine malfunction light…..

Huge relief – a pay parking area found – huge – ticket bought and displayed. Nice parking attendant then told us “non parceggio camper qui” !  Back on the road – and some circular driving – motorhome parking two blocks away – luckily the same ticket worked.

We perambulated (?) on to the old town – beautiful Piazza and fountain – with this amazing water system – see photo. But – a little history…. 15,000 people lived in cave dwellings in Sassi (Matera) for hundreds of years right up until 1950s !  Only in 1956, did the City authorities move them to new housing – the move was completed in 1968.  But their legacy remains – and is one of the most compelling sights we have seen in Italy. There was poverty – but close families (all living and sleeping in one room) – large families too – but the infant mortality rate was 50%+.  Beggars requested not money, but quinine to give to their children to stave off malaria.   It was Mel Gibson’s location choice for his film, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ as few places depict such basic human existence.

The photos speak for themselves – it is quite unique indeed.

Back to Marina di Piscci – and a quiet evening – only 8 vans tonight so far…..   

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Today’s Tour Guide masters the map and walking routes … well worth the EUR1.50 … for the map.  The guide received NO tips!

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 Unfortunately closed …. amazing that it is so water tight that it still contained water in 1991 when it was explored.

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Purgatory Church … not exactly welcoming doors!

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Dwellings seriously piled on top of each other.  Apparently a lot that clung to the ledges have been pulled down.

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An artist’s impression.

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Many of the original dwellings had water supplies, tanks in the habitation and holding tanks below.  There were no natural springs so they collected rain water.

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 There were quite a number that we could just wander into.  Some were being ‘done up’; mostly to be used as shops or small museums.

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A vast vast area

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One of the small museums, but at EUR2 each very worth it. The dwelling was described over a tannoy – in English (we were the only visitors).  All the animals, adults and children in essentially one room.  Part of this museum also had a snow cavern – snow was packed between straw to form ice and then sold.  Another chamber was a meeting cave, which was too open to be used as a dwelling … important as there were few places (due to lack of space) where people could meet up and chat.

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The ‘posher’ part of the Sassi, where proper houses are built into the rock.

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Dry Monday … lovely lunch washed down with … water!

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After a superb anti-pasti (8 dishes for EUR12), which we shared, this was K’s ravioli with porchini in a squash sauce with pistachio sprinkles.

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