On our way back from Barcelona to Italy we stopped off to see our German friends in Les Issambres on the Cote D’Azur.
It had started raining on the way on the highway which made for uncomfortable driving with a lot of spray on the road. This weather continued for the next couple of days that we spent there with them but it was nice not to have to drive and just be able to relax.
We did join them and other German friends of theirs for a wonderful meal at an old service station which had been turned into a restaurant called “La Mole” which was apparently a favourite of former Prime Minister Jacques Chirac.
We had several types of terrines and pates followed by a choice of wild boar, a cassoulet or duck and then followed by salad and a wonderful selection of cheeses. To cap of the meal was a creme caramel and chocolate mousse and stewed plums. It was a memorable meal washed down with rose and red wine.
We left France and drove around the Cote D’Azur and into Italy to near the town of Piombino where we stayed the night at “Pappasole” a very well appointed resort type of campsite with many pools, recreation area, play area for children and restaurant.
It had warmed up significantly which was very pleasant when we left the following day to travel further south.
We stopped at “La Rosa dei Venti” (the rose of the winds) where my cousin’s son ran the restaurant and had a delicious seafood pasta lunch there. I hadn’t seen him since he was a small boy so it was nice to catch up.
We arrived at Sezze Scalo on the 9th October to spend ten days with my various cousins there. We were just in time for the christening of one of my cousin’s grandchildren which was a normal Italian affair at a restaurant with about 100 guests, a meal of many courses, DJ and much ceremony. It was nice to catch up with all
the family in one place. The poor child looked shellshocked for much of the time with so many loud voices and loud music. We felt a bit the same way.
We had our usual problems with obtaining our Indian visa. We travelled by train into Rome the day after we arrived which took about 40minutes and went straight to the Indian Embassy where we could have been in India. It was an airless basement crowded with Indians some of whom were very much in need of a bath. The same thing happened to us as had happened in Ireland with the man accepting the visas told us we would have to return to Australia to obtain them and he kept insisting on this. Very frustrated we left the basement and decided to try the Embassy itself and made our way to the 2nd floor after bypassing the reception desk with stating it wasn’t a visa issue (or she would have sent us back to the basement!)
As luck would have it a man in a suit carrying a briefcase happened to be entering the code to enter the embassy and as we entered with him he asked us what he could do for us. We explained our predicament and he luckily was to be the head of the visa section. He left us sitting on comfortable couches in the much more upmarket old Roman building for about forty five minutes and then we were directed downstairs to his office where he advised us to upload our photographs (which of course are not the usual passport size!) and then to return to the visa office in the afternoon and if we had any problems to get the staff to contact him. Eureka! Off we went, got the photos uploaded and visa forms checked, had some lunch and returned to a most accommodating woman who accepted our application without another word. We did try for a
visa for a year which is a possibility according to the web information, they only grant six monthly visas – Ugh!
It was just one of the frustrations of travelling for a longer period and not returning to our country of residence.
The other frustrations are the usual ones that people in every country experience with banks, telephone, and internet companies.
The food feast continued for the next week with lunches and dinners allocated to the various cousins. Needless to say I put on weight. Maurice did his usual job of washing and polishing the van ready for it’s wintering sojourn.
Giancarla a cousin took us to the church and monastery of “Fossanova” which also had a beautiful cloister.
Another day I was able to see another cousin’s annual olive harvest which is made much easier these days with a vibrating double rake like contraption connected to a portable generator. It is just a matter then of collecting the olives in large nets and taking out most of the small branches and leaves. The olives are then taken to be crushed for oil.
Ten days later on a sunny 26 degree day we were glad to be on our way back to Roccamandolfi to empty the van and sort clothes for the next few months and eat little!
We met up with our lovely young friends and their baby Caterina who is now nine months old. It is lovely to see the difference and progress of the babies and young children when we only see then every six months.
The locals were all saying that the lovely hot weather that we experienced while we were there in Autumn was the Summer weather that they should have had. They instead had a lot of rain and not very warm days which they said was unusual.
On the 23rd October we went from 24degrees the day before to 8 degrees and very cold. The winter was coming and it was time for us to leave so we stowed the van in a nice new garage in Roccamandolfi and took the train to Rome on the 26th October where we spent a couple of days visiting relatives, picking up our long awaited Indian visas and seeing the Caravaggio exhibition at the Barberini palace before a last couple of cocktails and complimentary nibbles (7euros total) before flying out to Dubai on the 29th October for some sun and warm weather.