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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.