This week we have travelled up from the toe of Italy and have visited 6 UNESCO world heritage sites. Being in a motorhome enables you to get to these amazing places quite easily. That said parking can be a problem so you have to use public transport to get to the sites or walk.
To be honest you have to be careful not to get UNESCO’ed out. This is very easy to do and when something overwhelms you with its magnificence, you can just breeze by if you are not careful, more on that later.
It had been a while since we had been able to do any washing so a proper campsite was required. Careful reading of reviews pointed us to a campsite in Cirò Marina, like many reviews it was subjective. They liked it we did not, that said the washing machines and dryers were up to the job we needed. We have to be honest the weather can affect your view of a place and we are trying to cover a lot of places on our ‘Long Way Home’.
So with all our clothes and NiKi all clean we headed of on an intense UNESCO week. Elddis have asked us to visit as many as we can as we journey back to the UK, so first stop was Matera, we had never heard of this stunning place until now and could recommend everyone to visit. For the motorhome visitor there are many places to stay, we stayed in the park opposite the city. This is an amazing place with old town was built into the rocks so most of the houses are partly if not totally cave dwellings. The scenery is breath taking and we had our best meal in Italy in Soul Food.
As we now have a schedule we moved on to Pompeii an area with more UNESCO sites than you can shake a stick at. We stayed at Camping Spartacus just outside the ruins, review here. So over three days we visited the ruins of Pompeii, we had been advised to get the audio guide, and would say this brought the place alive. We spent over 5 hours here and loved it, really got a feel for what Roman life was like, we also had our first visit to a brothel, it closed in 72AD but very evocative, with risqué frescos on the walls.
The next day was a little more intense as we headed off to our second set of Roman ruins at Heracleum, for some reason we did not find this so alluring but perhaps we were ruined out. So on to Sorrento and the Amlalfi coast we took a train to Sorrento and a bus along the coast. We were so glad that we left NiKi behind, the drops were hundreds of feet and the drivers nuts as usual. The bus driver even passing cars on blind bends.
At least that made us look at the scenery as looking at the road was not an option, We got off at the picturesque town of Positano and enjoyed some sun and walked on the beach. Even out of season to busy. Back on the bus to Sorrento for a relaxing dinner to prepare us for the next day in Naples.
We had luck on our side for the trip to Naples with sun shining it made the dirt and graffiti along the route look somewhat benign, it is something we both have disliked intensely here in southern Italy. The way the landscape is littered with rubbish, the walls, trains and buildings are covered in graffiti and the people seem not to notice are care. We hope that as we move north this may improve.
That said we took a while to get through the grunge of Naples and felt its 2,500 years of history strongly. It has a real edginess to it and felt that you would not want to be too showy here, we slowly found the sites the Doumo, and the Church of Gesù Nuovo, a ‘Kinder Surprise’ Nothing on the outside but total awesome inside. Finally we took our ‘Lonely Planet’ guides advice and paid to visit one more place.
The Museo Cappella Sansevero, This has to be the highlight of our week, the statue of the veiled Christ, in our opinion must be the most beautiful piece of art we have ever seen. Even though the church has a multitude of other amazing works, the veiled Christ will stay with you long after you have returned home. You cannot take pictures, so here is a picture of a postcard just to give you a flavour!
We have been in Italy now for six weeks and have visited 10 UNESCO world heritage sites, it seems like every paving stone you trip over has some historic significance. So perhaps you can get over ruined as you run from one to the other. The driving here in the south of Italy is also a strain, off the Autostrada, the roads are awful, we are going to take a day or two before we arrive at the Eternal city of Rome and go culture all over again!
In conclusion, what is Italy like off season for the Motorhome traveller? It is maddening, driving is dangerous, it is very, very expensive, diesel at €1.40 a litre is hard to take, on top of that a lot of Italians see not Italians as cash machines and try to push the limits. Check your bill every time.
It is also joyous, fun, generous, tasty, historic and fun. But be ready to have your mood switch three to four times a day.
The route this week.