Archives for the month of: August, 2012

We arrived in Naples by train which only took us 1 1/2 hours.from Isernia on the 25th August.   I was a bit apprehensive about booking a hotel next to the train station but it was ideal. A lovely hotel with great staff and with double glazing, no noise from outside.

The station is very modern with a lot of shops and a good tourist information counter.

We were wondering about the saying “See Naples and die” the first night we were in the city. A Pizzeria that has been operation for over 50years was given a good write up so we thought we would try it. We caught the metro (the most ancient station and train we had come across) to Piazza Cavour. When we came out of the station we thought we were in Calcutta only with several layers of graffiti on every building. It was a very poor area with every nationality living there and a lot of people milling around  the streets amongst the piles of uncollected garbage. We perservered however and found our way to a wonderful little pizzeria in the middle of it all which was a hive of activity with people waiting for take aways. The service and the food was excellent and after our fortnight of dieting we treated ourselves to antipasto, pizza, dessert, mineral water and a litre of wine all for 23euros!

On Sunday we caught a tram and got off at the end of the line which happened to be on the coast outside the cruise liner and ferry terminal. There was a large dead rat on the side of the road and a sour smell of garbage but as we got into the more affluent area the odours diminished and you could smell the sea and the fresh air.

We had a lovely long walk (about 6hours) all along the beautiful bay of Naples past The round towers of Castel del Ovo and up into the Chiaia area which is a very affluent part of town with designer shops and upmarket appartment blocks and maids in frilly aprons wiping down the outdoor furniture on the rooftop terraces. It was like something out of a Grace Kelly movie!

We found the Piazza Plebiscito with the wonderful buildings of the Opera house and Galleria Umberto closeby. We found a great clothing shop and decided because the sales were on to stock up on jeans and shorts. I also bought a lovely pair of Italian made shoes.

I don’t know whether it is because of the “crisis” that everyone is talking about but the service in every shop and of everyone of whom we have asked questions has been excellent and friendly.

We went to another recommended trattoria close to the station for dinner which we found was closed for holidays so went to another little one close by “Da Peppino” which served good food and wine.

There are still many people who are quite short especially around Naples . I felt like a giant around a lot of the women and men.

The mafia is alive and well.  About a week ago a  Neapolitan Mafia boss (who had his fingers blown off setting up a bomb years ago) was coming out of the sea in Terracina (which we had visited a couple of weeks ago) when two men approached him and shot him ten times.

The next day we decided to go to Sorrento on the “circumvesuviana” train which only took an hour. We walked around the town and enjoyed the beautiful views along the coastline.

We caught the train back in time to meet Ruth Lotero (one of our long lost Lutero cousins from the USA) who now lives and teaches in Sezze (where our grandfathers were born). She very kindly came down to Naples on the train to meet us. I had met three of her brothers in the USA a few years ago when she had already moved to Italy. We had a nice lunch and chat about the families and Ruth showed us several pictures of her side of the family, some of whom bore similarities to the relatives in Italy and Australia. It was great to finally meet her.

After Ruth left on the train back to Sezze, Maurice and I caught the tram again to the ferry terminal and walked to the funicular to go up the hill to “Castel St Elmo”. This was an even more affluent area with lovely avenues of trees and escalators to take you up to the various streets on a higher level. The castle is enormous and the views were to die for! A spectacular 360 degree view of all of Naples and it’s bay. We arrived there after 4pm and received free entry and there was virtually noone else there so we had a good wander around and marvelled at the views. We caught the funicular back down the hill and then strolled the streets. We stopped at another little trattoria and had a bite to eat.

We decided to explore the historical centre of the city the next day and wandered along the narrow but very interesting streets with countless churches, one more beautiful than the next along the way. I found a lovely Italian made dress to go with my shoes!

We have ditched a few of the old clothes to a worthy recipient on the street and should still be within our luggage limit for our flight to Ireland via London.

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We have had a relaxing and interesting time for our last week in Roccamandolfi. We caught the bus to Campobasso which is a much larger place than Isernia. It has about 80,000 inhabitants and is very spread out. We had a look around the old town which was pretty deserted. We got there at 8am (too early for the Italians) and only a couple of bars (they sell coffee, snacks an alcohol ) were open so we had a coffee and caught another bus up to the commercial centre where there were two small malls.

We happened to meet Raffaele, Antonietta and Joe there so we all shopped a bit and then they very kindly took us back in their car to Roccamandolfi. We went for our usual evening hike and were told that there would be a procession through town. A couple who are getting married soon are doing everything in the old traditional way. He works in the museum and has studied the traditional costumes and culture of the area. This meant that the bride came from her house with all her dowry which was carried in baskets by local girls in traditional costumes preceded by two accordionists. Three donkeys followed laden with bedclothes,

copper pots and pans and wooden utensils. It was great to see and we followed them up all the stairs to the top of the town. The procession passed directly in front of where we are staying and we had to move back into the doorway to let the donkeys pass.

Family and friends had set up in a cul de sac – bales of hay, tables and chairs and tents where they cooked and decorated tables where they laid out the food. They also had an open fire and it was a wonderful atmosphere at the top of the town overlooking the evening lights around the mountains.

We then went back and had dinner and set off for the main piazza where a two piece band. a girl with keyboard who also sang and a guy on a piano accordian were set up for the evening.

They started playing at 9pm but no one really turned up until about 10pm with children of all ages. They played great music and we sat on the steps leading up from the piazza with many others and watched the dancing. I got in a couple of dances but didn’t join in the line dances.

Line dancing is a very big thing here in Italy. They line dance to the old traditional music but have concocted many different moves. We left about 1am but it was still going strong and the bar was still open. There are no specific closing times for the bars – I did ask and was told when the last person left was when they closed!

Maurice had a couple of Peroni beers (the only beer together with the Chinese Tsingtao that doesn’t affect his arthritis) and I had a whisky which was very cheap and very liberally poured – no measuring cups here!

The next day we walked to the mountain opposite the village and around it. We met a goat herder with 4 accompanying dogs one of which sat down and watched us eat our picnic that we took along. That night was another “festa” this time a sausage festival. These always begin about 9pm so we got a table early and our friend Raffaele who has lived in Sydney for 42years and his niece and German boyfriend and Remo and Svenia – he is Italian/German and she German. We had interesting English/German/Italian conversations all going at once.

We had our friends over for lunch so Maurice went and picked some mountains flowers for the table and I did pasta and then meat and salads with delicious peaches for dessert.

Raffaele and Antonietta took us on a tour the next day up to the ski resort area at the top of the mountain range. They make the most of the area in Summer with quad bikes and horses for hire and they have a wellness centre there presumably for when you get off your horse!

We drove around the mountains and to and through a number of old historic towns. The drive high up in the mountains was beautiful and with the heat you could smell the pine trees.

We learnt a lot about the plants that grow in the moutain areas – wild spinach, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. The strawberries were fininshed but we found some blackberries and raspberries. In one valley we could smell the wild oregano and the wild fennel was in flower. They dry the fennel flowers, collect the seeds and crush them and put them into the sausages when they make them.

We had a picnic lunch under some trees and had a lovely day. In the evening we met at one of the 4 bars in the village for a couple of drinks.

On Thursday we caught the bus into Isernia again to visit some museums and the cathedral. It was extremely hot and humid but we walked throught the town and had a bite to eat while everything was closed between 1-4pm and then waited for the cathedral to open but it was on Italian time and still hadn’t opened by by 4.30pm so we couldn’t wait any longer and will see it next time.

The towns become like ghost towns between 1-4pm and we were the only people on the street – there is definately something to be said for a siesta when it is so hot in the middle of the day.

It is such a pleasure to open the shutters in the morning every day and look to the lovely mountains and the beautiful deep blue sky. We are making the most of it as I don’t think it will be the same in Ireland! The last couple of nights we have heard a couple of wolves high up in the mountains and then the dogs start barking their heads off. They have only in the last few years reintroduced the wolves to the area but they stay well hidden apart from when they go looking for sheep at night.

They had an extremely rare winter here in Roccamandolfi last year with several metres of snow that hadn’t been seen since 1956. Now they are having the hottest summer for a couple of hundred years! At least it cools down at night as there are no fans or air conditioners here!

All the locals are saying that within a few weeks the weather will change and it will get cold so there are truckloads of wood which have been cut and stacked and are now being delivered around the village. Only some of the smaller tractors with small trays attached can make it around the village but even then some have centimetres to spare when navigating around the narrow laneways.

It is also “passata” time where several families or friends get together with hundreds of kilos of tomatoes and boil them up (in vats big enough for a person) to make the real tomato sauce – delicious!

A lot of the families here for the millenium reunion of Roccamandolfi are heading home to Toronto, New Jersey and Australia this week and the locals say that within a few weeks when it does turn cold some of the residents will move out over the winter. Eliana – our Peruvian bar lady married to a local said it is dead here over the winter.

We are off to Naples for a few nights on  the 25th August and will meet up with one of my second cousins Ruth from the USA who is now living in my dad’s village of Sezze and who is going to come on the train down to Naples to meet us. I have met some of her brothers in the USA but it will be nice to meet her. We will  then off to party time with Maurice’s cousins and friends in Ireland for a couple of weeks and to catch up with our friends Des and Mary and family who are in Ireland for a family wedding.

Then on to Germany to the Automechanika trade show in Frankfurt and spend a couple of weeks visiting friends in Germany, Sweden,Norway and Switzerland before going back to England and Ireland for a couple more weeks. When it gets too cold we will make our way out of Europe towards India.

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My cousin Pina’s husband Antonio and his son drove us down to our friend Joe’s house at Roccamandolfi 2 hours south of where we were staying with cousin Maria Letizia and her husband Salvatore. We found Joe’s aunt easily and Signora Pinelli took us up to the house where she had stocked us up with essentials and prepared the place for us which was lovely of her. She is delightful and lives in the village full time. There are a lot of foreigners who are visiting at the moment and also Italo/Americans and Italo/Australians who have come for a reunion. We asked one man for directions and in Italian he said he was German. We have heard a lot of English spoken and have already met families from New Jersey and Toronto and a couple who live in Bunbury who have invited us for coffee.

Maurice said that after his lessons with Joe and his background knowledge of Latin, he finds he can read although understanding a lot and speaking is a little way off. I have been doing the translating so that Maurice can be included in what is going on. It is nice to meet a few people here where Maurice can at least have the occasional conversation in English. I’m sure he’ll make up for it when we are in Ireland and it will be a break for me before we go to Germany as some of our friends there don’t speak English!

Joe’s house is a lovely little place with shutters on the windows which is normal here in Italy. It has a large all in one dining/living/lounge area downstairs and two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs. We love it. Joe’s aunt grew up here with 10 people living in the house.

Rocca Mandolfi according to one of the residents has 1100 inhabitants down from 4,000 years ago and a few of the shops have closed and some of the houses are sadly boarded up but the town has a lot of character and there are some beautifully planted window boxes and colourful plants outside some of the houses. A lot of the people leave their keys in their front doors but they are mostly then at home. Can’t see that happening in Australia anymore.

The village is very pictureque and is tucked into the mountainside. There are a LOT of steps to climb and descend wherever you go. We will certainly be fit by the time we leave here which we need after the gastronomic feasts we have been having every day with the relatives. Joe’s aunt very generously made us a cake and left us delicious wood fired pizza bread so the diet started the next day! Up above the town but out of sight from the town is a wind farm and the concession to having it there was to upgrade some of the footpaths and railings around the town.

We waited with a lot of people in the main piazza and saw the crowd throw rice over a bride and groom as they came down the steps from the church. I don’t know how some of the young girls who were all dressed up with very high thin heels could walk up an down the very uneven steps and on the cobblestones. They must be used to it. Most of the people in the piazza were enjoying pre wedding reception drinks while the bride and groom were married in the church. There were only very few people who actually attended the church which seems to be the norm in Italy for a wedding.

On the other hand everyone seems to turn out for a funeral. The next day Joe’s aunt’s son in law’s mother died (she had been very sick) and we had met her son the day before so we joined the hundreds of people in the church for the ceremony. The church was overflowing and we stood at the back of the church while people who were standing wandered in and out. The funerals here take place very soon after someone has died. Four sturdy young men carried the coffin from the house up and down the steps to the church and then down again to a waiting hearse further down the mountain – we watched from up high while most of the congregation walked to the cemetery. The day someone dies they post notices on the boards around town to show who has died and when someone has died. They have had 2 older people and one young person die in the last two weeks here – upsetting anytime but also for such a small town.

We have found at least three bars so far in town who serve good cappucino for $1.20 and is about 1/2 the quantity of an Australia cappucino but still cheap. They are also allowed to sell alcoholic drinks so last night we had a very refreshing gin and tonic for $2.50 each. The tax here is very low on alcohol so wine and spirits are very reasonably priced.

There is no supermarket here but small shops – a separate butcher and a general store selling everything from smallgoods and fruit and vegetables and essentials. I like the small shops and the personalized service which pretty much a thing of the past at home. We went to the butcher and bought half a chicken because it was so big! The peaches here are full of flavour and you can smell them when you walk into the shop.

They also have a vendor selling fruit, vegetables and other goods from a van and you know he is coming as he has a loudspeaker and he shouts out the prices of the various items while driving around the bottom of the town.

The chickens and other fruit and vegetables that we have eaten here have all had such wonderful flavour as well as the cockles and mussels and fresh fish we ate one night at a cousin’s home. The fresh ricotta is also delicious.

The usual dinner time in Italy is about 8-10pm and lunch around 2pm. Most shops open around 10am-1pm and then reopen at 5pm to 8pm which gives people a chance to have lunch and a rest – especially in the heat of the day. It has been over 30degrees and up to 40degrees with high humidity every day and it is nice to get to Roccamandolfi where it does cool down at night with a lovely breeze and it is nice and hot and sunny during the day.

A lot of Italians go on holiday in August so there are a lot of people on the road. There are also many, many festivals in every town and city and the organisers put up notices around the towns and have brochures printed to show what is on during the week or the month. You could be at a festival nearly every night in the various towns in July and August. There is a

festival in another small village held in the cooler weather whereby the various families of the town cook seven kinds of minestrone and anyone can go and eat there without any charge.

I find I am finally thinking in Italian which is a great help. I lack the vocabulary sometimes but I can usually explain something if I don’t know particular words. I’m getting plenty of practice anyway. Everyone in the town is very friendly and they know that there is a reunion of the emigrants going on so they all want to know where you come from and how you are connected to someonen in the village. We met one of Joe’s cousins Raffaele D’Andrea from Sydney and had a good chat with him.

We caught the bus into a larger town called Isernia which is the oldest known civilization in Europe of over 740,000 years. It only takes about 1/2 hour depending on whether the driver stops for a chat now and then with someone he knows along the way.

The bus also stops at various points to pick up or drop off some passengers even though there are sometimes no bus stops. We wandered around the town and went to the supermarket and bought some things. Everywhere in Italy you have to buy plastic bags if you want them at any supermarket but the funny thing is that at the pharmacy every medicine is wrapped up in paper, even if it is in a box already. I had a belt shortened and fixed and it cost me 2euros.

We saw a three door fridge/freezer and vegetable drawer for 399euros about $470. I know that prices in the small towns are less than in the cities but even in Rome we found everything we bought to be much cheaper than at home.

A nice thing in France, Italy and Germany is that when you walk into a small shop everyone greets each other with a good morning or good evening. The man in the small general store in Roccamandolfi gave me some garlic as he thought it was past it’s prime, a lovely gesture.

We went for a long walk one day and down to the cemetery to have a look at the place. It is so well kept and they have a separate room with small marble plaques with the names of people who have died overseas. They have separate sections for those who died in the USA and Canada ,Belgium, France and Germany and one for Australia.

That night we went down to the bar to have our cappucino as it is one of the only places that we can sometimes skype from and send emails. Very soon we had lightning, thunder and a torrential downpour which lasted 1/2 hour. After that it cleared up and it has been fine again since then.

On Ferr’Agosto – the 15th August all the shops are closed for the feast of the Assumption and everyone goes on a picnic or visits family or friends. We knew that a lot of people were going further up into the mountains for the day so Maurice and I packed a picnic and took our two backpacks and set out – we didn’t get very far before we met Raffaele – Joe’s cousin and his wife Antonietta and their son Joe who were waiting by their car for their sister-in-law from Isernia and her daughter Maria and her German boyfriend Uwe who live in Rome. They said that it was a long way up the mountain and would we like a lift so we gratefully accepted. We all got on really well and we were very glad for the lift when we saw how far it was and all uphill!

The valley we went to was just beautiful with lovely big trees all around us in the forrest. It used to an alpine pasture for sheep and before the winter the shepherds used to trek for 3days down to Puglia where it was warmer and then in Spring they would bring them back again.

There were hundreds of people there BBQing and picnicking and some had set up tents for the night. There were horses there if you wanted to ride and the horses were all very sturdy looking.

The family generously offered us lunch as well – Maurice succumbed but I stuck to my diet – and then we all walked to a little place not far away for a coffee where a lot more people were enjoying lunch and a drink.  Maurice and I had not done any exercise so we decided to walk back to the village as it was downhill. The family also were going to start to cook again so off we went. Along the way we met a lovely German girl here on holiday who was walking her young 18month old son in his pram down the mountain so that he would get some sleep. She had had enough food too and left her husband to eat more with the relatives. We chatted in German on the way down which was good practice for me. It took us 1hour 45mins to get back down but it was a lovely walk with beautiful mountain scenery and there were not too many cars to avoid on the narrow roads.

Italy is still a very male dominated society with me the only woman at the bar in the evening or even in the morning. All the men are there chatting or playing cards.
The only other women we have seen at the bars have been foreigners.  The men (except my uncle in Rome who is the exception) all get up from the table or sit at the table while the women clear everything away and do the washing up.

A few of the kids here are very enterprising and set up a little table and they also have a large piece of cardboard where they lay out all sorts of bits and pieces and try to sell them to anyone who goes by.

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My cousin Maria Letizia and her husband have taken us all over the region with trips to the city of Latina and up to the ruins of the Temple of Jove at the beachside town of Terracina south of where they live. We also went to the lake at Fogliani and the mountain village of Rocca Corga – all beautiful spots.

The Lutero (my father’s) family have no chance of dying out – I have 17 first cousins 10 living in Rome and Sezze,3 in Venezuela and 4 in Australia. Their children are a total of 27 and their children as of now total 14 with two more on the way and many more to follow I’m sure. I have one aunt left in Australia and one in Rome. When they all get together with husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends it is a big gathering!

My cousin with whom we were staying invited all of the other cousins down to say goodbye to us and they came down after dinner about 9.30pm.  It was only the first cousins and their spouses. 

We had watermelon followed by icecream. The watermelons are blood red here and delicious.

The cousin and her husband with whom we had been staying gave us a big bag of three sorts of tomatoes to take with us as well as some lovely fresh eggs. Another cousin send three bottles of  prosecco and cakes.

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We had four days in Rome and then one of my 10 first cousins picked us up and took us to Sezze – a hill town which is about 45minutes drive from Rome. It has about 30,000 inhabitants and about 2,000 Romanians and several hundred Albanians living there.

It is a beautiful place full of history and old cobbled streets and you can look down on the plains and on a clear day to the Mediterranean. We stayed with one of my cousins in the centre of the old town. We spent a week eating our way around the various cousins’ places either for lunch and/or dinner. The food was delicious – most of it home made – but just too much. We always started with appetisers then Pasta done every which way followed by meat and vegetables and potatoes followed by fruit and then icecream and then coffee and cake and a few hours later it started all over again. No was not a word we could use so we are really looking forward to a bit of starvation when we go down to Joe’s place further south and we are on our own after the 11th August.

We went one day with two cousins to a wonderful museum called “Piane delle Orme” which tells the history of the whole area, part of which was a vast area of swampy land where people suffered from Malaria. Mussolini in his early days brought in thousands of workers from the north and they transformed the swamp land into fertile plains and a series of canals and they wiped out the malaria and offered the land to people to farm it. It has since been an a very successful agricultural area with lush crops of every kind.   It is very fertile land. The museum also houses an amazing number of old vehicles and machinery from the early days as well as many vehicles from the second world war and life size depictions of the bombing at Monte Cassino and the landing of allies at Anzio. It is a very interesting museum.

The hillsides here are covered with olive groves, grapevines and kiwi vines.  Italy supplies Australia with kiwi fruit for 2months of the year.

The job situation here is pretty grim except for long term employment with many factories closing and just the other day in Taranto a factory closed with 20,000 now unemployed for the time being. In the centre of the old town of Sezze there are many shops that have closed and many appartments for lease or sale and the hospital has closed it’s doors except for emergencies.

We found the price of food in general and eating out to be very reasonable but the locals are complaining about prices. My cousin who has been a teacher for 32years gets 1600 euros a month of which a lot is taken by taxes, class sizes are increasing and there are no relief teachers available for those on sick leave for 5 days or less so even if someone is sick for three months, the doctors write them off for only 5days at a time so that the teachers don’t get any replacements as there is no money to pay for them. The children then are divided up between the other classes.

The cousin we are staying with at the moment lives a little way from the shops and they still have a service here where the bread man comes in his van as does the man selling everything from underpants to shirts and shorts. For us it is like something from the distant past but here it is a common event with all sorts of goods.

After a week we moved down on the plain to another cousin. Her husband is retired and has the most wonderful vegetable garden with the most beautiful tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, beans and eggplants and also raises his own rabbits and chickens. Everything we ate was so fresh and delicious.

We went on Sunday morning to a wonderful botanical garden amongst ruins about 20minutes from where we are staying on the plains. It is called “Ninfa” and is only open two days a month. It has beautiful trees and plants and many ruins from a thriving city from the 1300’s. The river running through the land is crystal clear. It was a planted later as an English garden and has a unique micro climate with many exotic plants and large pines and other trees. In the evening we went to a festival called “Sagra di Zuppa di Pane e Fagoli” where it is traditional to eat a soup of bread and beans – very tasty. There was also a photographic exhibition by one of my cousins’ husbands who is an amazing photographer and a main organizer of the festival. We set off to it about 8pm and joined some of the other cousins and their husbands. It was my oldest cousin’s birthday so it was a celebration as well. There were thousands of people there all enjoying the cooler evening under the trees at long tables that had been set up beforehand. There was a wonderful band playing so some of us danced well into the night. It was a great atmosphere.

We went one day to Sermoneta – another ancient hill town and the views down to the plains were beautiful. In the evening we went to another hill town called Bassiano which is higher up in the mountains and we sat outside and enjoyed a drink in the slightly cooler air.

On the 8th August we went into Rome by train and met up with friends from Perth Keven and Marilyn and we spent a nice few hours having a long lunch and taking in a few of the sites – the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. It was the middle of the day so there were thousands of people everywhere. It was very hot and humid and the train on the way home was not airconditioned and quite crowded so we were glad to get off after 40minutes.

The coast is close so we went to Terracina which is another old town with the Temple of Jove above it. It is a very picturesque place and the mediterranean looked very inviting from above. Most of the beach area is covered with lie-lows and umbrellas that you can hire for the day/week/month with lots of cafes and restaurants on the beach. Only small areas of beach are “free” where you can take your own umbrella and settle down without paying.

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We had a good and uneventful trip from Paris to Rome and it was lovely going through the mountains into Italy. 

In Rome we stayed in a spotless and spacious appartment run by a lovely young couple which was about 15minutes from the city centre. It was about 2minutes walk from my aunt’s place and a couple of minutes from a wonderful area in Rome called “Valle delle Caffarella” which is a vast public open space which houses some of the old catacombes and mausoleums from Roman times as well as market gardens and places that make and sell Ricotta and other cheeses.

We walked there for the four mornings we were there and there were a lot of people jogging and walking their dogs. One morning we were amazed to see there a shepherd with a flock of sheep. There are also some large villas belonging to celebrities but you can only see large gates and driveways. We walked through to the old Appian way on the other side of the park and you could imagine the legions of Roman soldiers marching along the old cobbled streets.

It was nice to see my aunt who is now over 80 and her husband who is also 80 but looks 60. He is very fit and I suppose it is the three flights of stairs that keeps him fit. It was good that we didn’t stay there this time so that we didn’t have to drag our bags up and down the stairs.

We stayed on the 1st floor of a large appartment building and there was also a lift.  We strollled the streets with my aunt and her husband in the mornings and then had lunch with them.

We had the evenings to ourselves for the first time so we caught the metro into the city and went on two nights down to the banks of the Tiber River where they have a big festival every August and where they set up temporary bars and restaurants and have bands playing.

The other night we stayed in the area above the Tiber called Trastevere where there were a lot of restaurants and stages set up with all sorts of entertainment. We ate dinner at a lovely outdoor trattoria and sat next to a great couple of young guys from Belgium. We drank plenty of red wine and chatted for about 3hours.

The weather here has been very hot and very humid. At least in Asia the temperature doesn’t change much but here it has been between 35-40 degrees with very high humidity. It never used to be like this years ago and everyone is complaining about the humidity. The evenings however are lovely and long and balmy so it is nice to eat outside or go after dinner and have an icecream, a favourite pastime in Summer here.

I had been past “Castel St’ Angelo” an ancient round building near St Peters built over 2,000 years ago which were the private appartments to several popes. It was open until 7pm so we went one evening and were amazed at the opulence of the place. It also has an long walkway which in case of danger allowed the pope to escape from the St Peter’s in the Vatican to the castle.  We then went for a long walk to near  “Piazza Navona” one of the squares in Rome where we had a lovely meal and then onto “Piazza di Spagna”  The Spanish steps where hundreds of people were sitting on the steps enjoying the evening.   We then caught the metro home.

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