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.





297-300: Salt, a Pilgrimage and the Gargano Coast

297 – Thursday 11th February 2016:  Some Days Just Go Like That!

Neither of us slept well … our neighbouring motorhome departed at 1.30 am and J heard it did not really get back to sleep after.  The neighbours had arrived the night before in the middle of the night too.  Four adults and left in a Ford transit type van yesterday morning and were out all day until late evening.  All very strange!  AND we were also both of us worrying to varying degrees about the route out of the town.  And it started PEEING down which is like a deluge of conkers on the roof….  All contributed to a third rate night’s sleep.

J, the experienced runner, suggested that we did not run having both put in 6km yesterday and some twinges.  Apparently all the received running wisdom is that you should have at last one rest day a week … my whole life till recently had been a ‘rest day!”.  J washed up and I went to check the driving route out…. our self appointed car park attendant was back, so I asked him …. along the lungomare and then turn right.  I wandered on with the plan of walking the route to verify, but the TIC was open and she in charge actually spoke a few words of English and confirmed the same route.  Sorted … just wish we’d sorted it last night … might have slept better!  I had panned to Pilates, but the rain put paid to that.  I did buy two beautiful Sea Bass from the fish market and he filleted them for me 🙂  One is now frozen and the other currently in the oven on a bed of potatoes, olives and roasted red peppers …

The route out was just fine and we set off for the motorway as it seemed to be our best bet for motorhome services … it was and it had free wifi … two blog posts uploaded and emails up to date.  We loved Arancini in Sicily and they had them here … not a patch and very disappointing … will we have to move to Sicily?   They are seriously addictive.  K spotted an Ipercoop on the outskirts of Barletta … we’d run seriously low on wine.  I also managed to stock up on Marsala at EUR4.30 and bought a bottle of Moscatel di Trani, a dessert wine.  Having been there a MUST to try even at EUR10.50 for 50cl!!!  Will let you know how that went down later!  We then headed for a parking near the centre, but on arrival it was deserted … not comfortable with leaving Chardonnay here and unable to identify an alternative parking, we aborted Barlettta ….. guides book described it as shabby, but it had the LARGEST remaining bronze Roman statue … Ho hum … never mind – can’t see all the biggest and best of everything.

Following the coast road we entered Margherita di Savoia … nothing special except it it the location of the LARGEST salt plains in Europe.  We found the Salt Museum, but it only opened in the morning and we had missed it by 20 mins.  Ho Hum …. Lunch by the salt flats … seriously large ones and massive mounds of salt.

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A seriously huge mound of salt and it was not the only one of them.

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The coast line up to the Gargano Peninsula is really flat and pretty uninteresting and then as you approach you can see the cliffs leading down the to sea.

Onto Manfredonia – one thinks of Manfred Mann and a made up name.  A free parking on the Parkings App … and an easy route to it :).  At the end of the lungomare so a super flat route planned for tomorrow.  We wandered into the town, which is nothing remarkable.  Another huge Swabian castle … shut for renovation and the most huge plastic floats for the carnival procession.  The TIC was shut it opened at 5 till 7.30 … we are still getting used to these odd opening hours.  Back to Chard .. dinner preps and then back out.  What a change.  Lots of people walking out along the main shopping street.  The girl in the TIC did not speak English any better than our Italian.  Nor did she speak French or German.  Do they not get overseas visitors? Or do they expect visitors to speak Italian?   With pigeon this and pigeon that we established that she only covered the town, not the whole peninsula.  But they are the main town in the area?!  Ho hum!  All she could suggest was the castle, we informed her it was closed, and the and shopping street .. already discovered!  Ho Hum!  Back to the van to enjoy the Marsala and the Sea Bass … even though I cooked it, bloody marvellous!

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You can tell from the paving and promenade that this is a seaside town … just not the weather for it in February!

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Yes, we found another one!

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The huge plastic floats will be dragged through the town on Saturday.

298 – Friday 12th February 2016:  Monte Sant Angelo 

We awoke to rain …. it has to happen sometimes and we are conscious we are moving north.  Being a fair weather runner, K snuggled and luxuriated in bed, but about 10.00 a.m the rain ceased and she had no further excuses – a flat 4km for both of us.  We decided to leave Chardonnay where she was and use the bus to get to Monte Sant Angelo, as K had investigated the route and counted 13 hairpin bends … we’ll leave it to the bus driver, since we can!  Again helpful ladies waiting for the bus confirmed we were in the right place.  And we counted 17 mega bends on the way up.

Monte Sant Angelo is all about the Santuario di San Michele.  Here in AD490 St Michael the Archangel appeared before a local Bishop and said not to consecrate the site as he had already done so. Thenceforth it became a pilgrimage site.  Apparently Padre Pio, from nearby San Giovanni Rotondo, which we visited on the way down Italy, used to direct people here.  We both certainly found it more ‘religious’ and moving than the modern industry that is Padre Pio.  The site is free to enter and really well laid out.  You descend down the side of the rock, with modern, but mellow buildings to protect and enclose it.  You can see the grotto, which has the Archangel’s footprint in stone, but it has a statue over the top of it.  Apparently some of the graffiti date back to C17 and people used to carve their own footprints.


 Entrance to the Santuario di San Michele



In wandering the town we picked up various brown tourist route signs, so saw a number more churches, the old town with narrow alleyways and the castle.  We had planned to lunch on a small snack and coffee … four bars later with no snacks, we opted for a restaurant!  A set menu for EUR16 each … a pasta starter, a main with a choice of side dish, fruit, water and wine … we’re in!  I’ve mentioned before different food choices … K pasta with mussels, J pasta with ragu sauce.  K sea bass (actually over cooked / mine last night was much better, even if I say so myself!) and grilled veggies, J mixed cheeses and CHIPS!  I did help with thes, is the Pope Catholic?  We even asked for a second carafe of red, passed on the fruit as too full and the bill came to EUR30!  No receipt, so it was a good deal all round.


Behind me was the facade of the Chiesa di San Pietro, which is all that remained of the church after a C19 earth quake. To the right is the C12 Baptistry for total immersion.  The Church ahead, Chiesa Santa Maria, had some medieval frescos.


We were pretty high up and above a cloud line … lots of concrete chimney pots.


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Question about bottles around planters and here a lamp post answered by europeanomad.wordpress.com … to stop dogs piddling!

299 – Saturday 13th February 2016:  A meal to remember!

Following the coast – very slowly – lots of bendy bits, Vieste was our interim destination – several unsuitable parking sites later, we decided not to bother the inhabitants and settled for a lunch in the van on the seafront. Next – Peschici area for our overnight – K had identified a ‘motorhome parking’ at a restaurant called ‘Pane e Vino’ – seemed a relatively clear and unambiguous title…pity it didn’t mention the ‘cane’! More of that later….  Our synchronised Gorgeous Potty Sailors (GPS? How many nanachrychosms can I find for our doughty pair?), didn’t fall out with each other en route – and in short order, the less than imposing entrance appeared. We rumbled in along an uneven track – and parked short of a dodgy looking and very narrow concrete bridge – that didn’t look as if it would pass the BS EN 5400 test! No weight limit advice – we are 3.5+ tonnes….but we knew other vans had been there. I went to seek out the Patrone and check the infrastructure. The restaurant was almost deserted and the boss was busy finishing off a dish for customers. I waited – and waited – he gave me several reassuring signs….. Finally, he and I conversed in our fluent Italian – me – “camper parceggio uno notte?”  He – “So – you’re the little fecker from Dublin then?” No, much as this would have been appropriate, he was more restrained – “Si Signore, ma uno problema – non luce”.  I explained that I didn’t know any Lucys – and then with my brilliant Italian deciphering, decided that an absence of ‘lights’ in the parking area would not obstruct our nocturnal activities, whatever they might be….. (K did explain later that ‘luce’ was electricity and we could produce our own – Whoops!).  I was then shown around the facilities by the owner’s son – who is not called Lucy!  We could park anywhere in a large area with olive trees – a bit muddy – water available – and – a bonus!  Especially for those folk who like a good scrubbing    – a hot water douche!  We haven’t had a good scrubbing or douche – for (in K’s case days – I had one in 2015, I think).   Digression here just to awaken the reader – I once worked with a Chartered Accountant (years ago before the Flood) in a rural area – he proudly informed me that he had a bath every three weeks on a Saturday – with his wife – whether he needed one or not!  I must immediately state that this is not typical of the Chartered Accountancy profession – Clare!   

Anyway, we parked – at about 3:00 pm and settled…. No, we didn’t settle ! K decided that this would be a good day to do spring cleaning!  When I was employed – in my pre-Chardonnay life, I was given a day off on Saturdays… We exchanged  some views on the subject – and agreed (?) that cleaning was good for the soul… When Stephen Jater texted later that Ireland had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Paris – I was pleased to have been spitting and polishing!   With Chardonnay gleaming from every pore (there must be an anagram here – “pelmaingrope – an after dark adult activity”?)  Maybe not for the Irish Times crossword…  

We napped – having decided to eat in the restaurant later.  K scrubbed up well and I found a shirt !  Well, it was pre-Valentines Day….  The restaurant was buzzing – we had assistance in menu translation from a staff member who’s German was on a par with K’s Italian. 

Ante Pasti – K to describe………. Primo et secundo……..

K here:  So many small dishes … a pukka Italian culinary journey through virtually every vegetable known to man …aubergine parmigiana, artichoke, spinach, cauliflower etc and I think our favourite was cabbage with beans, who’d have thought!  Wafer thin slivers of carrot, courgette and cucumber done agro dolche (sweet and sour).  Dishes just kept coming!  The the hams and cheese course…. we were completely ge-stuffed by now, but a platter of cooked meats arrived … all beautifully tender and previously marinated.  A joy to finally have some lamb, as it seems to elude us in restaurants and in the butchers.  We took out a doggy bag which made supper tonight.  Three small cakes each arrived …. all homemade and then coffee with liqueurs …  Wow.  I reckon this was by far the best and most interesting Italian mean we’ve had.

Limoncello and another house liqueur – did we have coffee ? My memory eludes me at this point – I vaguely remember dancing with Lucy – sorry, Katherine – to my best 1960s style…  All this (and a little extra wine) – for Euro 48…. Actually, the dancing was free…

We had earlier counted 5 cane (dogs) around the restaurant – not wild, we thought. Well, one (or two) of them had stolen my Crocs – and K gave chase – they should have surrendered on the spot!  K 1 – dogs nil.  K:  Works with children too … distraction technique!

Overnight, they got their own back – and nicked K’s running leggings from where I hung them to dry on the back of the van ! Dogs 1 – K- 1!   Lesson – don’t underestimate a Pesticchidog – no more anagrams please…



300 – Sunday 14th February 2016:

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Sun rise …. yep, we were briefly up in time for it!

We rose – still full from an epic meal – K ran and Pilate’d – I meditated….. Arrivederci to our hosts – and on to take a better look at the town of Peschici – mega steps to be climbed – amazing views out to aqamarine seas and islands – beautiful alleyways and narrow streets – and the entire town out walking and having coffee at lunchtime on a Sunday – this is Italy !  Coffee for us – and people watching… – back to our casamobile….


Peschici – looking down to the harbour … a really warm day despite the clouds.



Would that be more steps … up!


People watching.  A lot of Aperol was being consumed. They all cleared off by 1.30 p.m. for lunch.


No computer enhancements … check out the colours of that sea.


You can just make out one of the ancient fishing stations.


A few times we’ve spotted the odd love padlock; they’ve taken off a bit more here.

K:  The scenery along this part of the coast deserves mention …. The road pretty much hugs the coast and the non-driver is rewarded with crystal clear water, rocky bays with sandy beaches.  A number of grottos and a super stone arch out to sea.  Ancient wooden fishing structures cling to the cliffs.  Really worth a detour to do the coast of the Gargano Peninsula.  Others must think so too, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a continuous string of campsites and holiday villages (all shut in Feb) particularly around Vieste – it must be a summer HELL!  We wondered where all the guests come from to occupy these accommodations … we know the Italians love sun bathing, but there is so much Italian coast dedicated to sunbathing, it must attract most of the rest of Europe too.

SPG (I’ll find an acronym somewhere) set for Troia – a few hours driving – and our destination – a free parking – with luce!  The reader who stayed awake for the last episode will know what luce does…..