I found a workaway host in Italy, near Brindisi, where I have been working for a week now. But this post will mostly be about my travel through the rest of Italy. From Pisa I drove to Vinci to visit the Vinci museum and to see Leonardo Vinci’s birthplace and home near the town Vinci. On my way there I had my first hitchiker in the car, after 10000 km. I have given lift to lots of people, but until then only people I have met and offered a lift. Well, it was interesting to see the models of his many constructions and inventions, machines for construction and industry. It was not allowed to take photos in the museum, so no images from inside there. These are taken outside the museum and at his house outside Vinci:
Vinci is a bit inland, so I drove to the coast again and spend the night at a agricultural bed & breakfast near Orbetello. These seem to be rather common in Italy. Nice with a evening and night in a quiet and dark place. The next day my destination was Ostia Antica, the historical harbour of Rome. On the way I saw a town on the hills inland that looked interesting and chose to drive there. Good choise! I have never heard of Tarquinia before, but it is for sure worth a visit if you should be in that area. The old part is surrounded by the old city wall with, as far as I counted, 5 ports. The town is very well preserved and it looks like people still live in the old buildings. Everywhere you look you see interesting buildings, towers and churches. A friendly self titled custody in the biggest of the churches told me that Tarquinia had been targeted so many times in the history by different enemies. Therefore the lots of towers and the big wall to defend the town.
Images from Tarquinia:
Next stop was Ostia Antica. The entrance was free that day, which was supposed to be a great thing for me, saving 18 €, but it turned out to be not so lucky. Because of the free entrance the place was extremely crowded and I gave up finding a parking for my car. On the way I noticed a football stadium close by, so drove back and there was a spot for my car. Ostia Antica is a very big place and it took me 4 hours to walk the tour through the ruins. Very exciting and for sure worth a visit!! When I came back to pick up my car the football game was over – and a huge metal gate was now separating me and my transport further on. Damn. After some hours of looking around and talking with people nearby, I got a telephone number to the man in charge of the place. No way he was gonna come and open that bloody gate, so I had to stay in Ostia for the night and till around midday the next day, before I could get to Mr. P. Not planned at all, but happy to get him back though… It could have been much worse parking illegal in Italy….
After an unplanned night in Ostia I followed the coastline south towards one of my primary destinations, Napoli – more precise the volcano Vesuvius and the town it destroyed in 79 AD, Pompeii. To be sure to have time enough to explore both I booked a small hotel only 3 km. from Vesuvius in a town called Ottaviano. The staff were very helpful, printing directions to drive to both destinations and telling about them. The next day I started driving to Vesuvius. I can not recommend driving there by yourself. The area from Napoli down to, and around Vesuvius is one big city with small roads in a very bad state. And extremely lot of traffic that seems to go around with no rules at all. To get the 3 km. from Ottaviano to Vesuvius I had to drive 26 km before getting there. When first outside the populated area and starting climbing up the volcano it’s a beautiful trip with great views of the area, with mountains looking east and the sea with the harbour of Napoli looking north-west.
Vesuvius is kind of a ticking bomb. Looking back it is suspected to have had big and destroying eruptions approx every 2000 years, last time in the year 79 where it blew up and lost about the ½ of it’s height, destroying Pompeii and several other villages along the coast. Since then it have been an active volcano with lots of smaller eruptions, until 1944, when an eruption sealed the crater with stones and lava. The same happened prior to the big eruption in 79, the volcano seems dead, but is very alive under ground and because of the sealing it now works like a kind of a bomb. Today people know of the dangers and the warnings before a big blow, like small earthquakes. It’s being carefully measured every day. Though it seems strange that people during time have build so much city around it, about 3 million people live around the volcano. There will be good time for evacuation, which certainly is needed with that amount of traffic and narrow streets.
I was able to drive close to the crater, then you pay 5 € for parking and 10 € for being allowed to walk the rest of the way to the crater. Expect at least 2 hours.
Vesuv is worth a visit for sure. And so is Pompeii. A month before the visit I read the book Pompeii about a aqueduct constructor, the life in and around Pompeii at that time and the eruption. It is very recommendable since it gave me good imagination of the life in the streets. They are still restoring some areas of the old city, digging out ruins and stuff. About 2000 people who died in Pompeii was found well preserved, since they were like sealed in lava. The area is very very big, I only had 3 hours to walk it before closing time. Be there earlier so you have a whole day! Not so much more to say, there’s a lot of readings to find on the internet if interested in the history – so here is my images from the walk in the old town. Vesuvius is to be seen in the background on some of them…
The image of the Arena is where Pink Floyd played and recorded the Live at Pompeii concert. After Pompeii I followed the coast further south and wanted to cross over the southern Italy on its smallest place, following the short coast at the “boot”. In the evening I got stopped by a flat tyre, unfortunately one of the new tyres I bought in Portugal. Drove to the nearest town on the spare wheel and booked a room at a B&B in a little town, Sapri. Lucky for me the very kind owner knew a man who runs a garage, so we drove there. They could not get a new tyre that fits before in some days, so they offered me a second hand Michellin. When I woke the next day they had driven my car back to the B&B, put on the tyre, changed them so the newest were in the front and balanced it all. Cost: 10 €. I wanted to give the owner some money for his effort, but no way he would accept that. As he said: “Men in trouble helps each other”!
Well, the I drove on, crossed the mountains in south with a bit of snow and arrived at the Adriatic sea early afternoon. Just time enough to drive to a beach and organise the car a bit before arriving at Bob and Debbie’s house a bit north, 20 km south of Brindisi. The house is only 50 meters from the sea and I have been workawaying here the last week. Done a lot of tiling, grounding and wood chopping. We are tiling around a swimming pool getting it ready for the upcoming season for tourists to arrive in May. More about that in the next post. At the end of this one a few pics from the drive over the mountains: