Punta Braccetto and Punta Secca

4F0898A2-9F74-4A82-B290-A6D7DFB8984FHaving left our lovely campground near San Marco we once again headed south, passing Catania and then Siracusa before rounding the corner and going west along the southern coast of the island.

59612098-C9BC-4CF9-9A26-B07F5215FDA9We’d picked a place on the coast to head for, and ended up at campground Luminoso in the village of Punta Braccetto, right on the Sea.

2D6D3955-00A1-4FDE-8A73-C4C9E65D0F41It’s a very quiet place as the road we’re on is a dead end so there’s only a bit of local traffic and mostly all you can hear is the sound of the waves on the beach.

4255ECAC-DA61-40BE-8799-C190330C544FOur camping pitch is quite large, and under a canopy that covers four similar pitches.  We have a private bathroom and the showers are small but nice.  And the Wi-fi is very good, so we’re pretty happy.

87F46F71-271F-45EE-85A9-FC6606AE1E1EWe’ve had several nice walks along the beach, which happens to be one of the many that the Allies landed on in 1943 to begin the ‘liberation’ of Italy.

F1750883-B6FC-47F7-94EB-26E9B68731E5We had excellent pizza from one of the local places for dinner one evening, and were looking forward to a nice seafood or pasta lunch the next day.  We drove further west along the coast as far as the city of Gela – which has a large industrial area right along the road – but got frustrated with the small streets and impatient traffic.  The city is right on the water but you have to negotiate thru a maze and over a hill to get to the waterfront – we gave up and headed back east to Vittoria, where we were once more disappointed.  There are lots of restaurants, but many either aren’t open, or only have takeout.

59695E85-440B-475A-92E4-DDAB8C345387Two things they have in great abundance in this area are greenhouses and garbage.  You can drive for miles and miles and there’s nothing to see in any direction but greenhouses.  Many of them are being used – tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc., but many are derelict with tattered plastic flapping in the wind and rows of weeds flourishing inside.

F2ACC0CA-4D8B-4F80-B2B3-B54999C8D94DAnd the garbage – it really spoils the feeling of the place.  And it’s not just in the pullouts where there usually is a bin – it’s everywhere on both sides of the road.  Not just the odd plastic bottle or candy wrapper – it’s bags and bags – I even saw a mattress that was just tossed and left.

It’s very unfortunate – I read that Sicily is desperate for tourists but I must say that the garbage is not a tourist attractor.

57D2B7E5-59B4-4917-AD58-2BEFD56FE16FThis morning I finally got on my bike – a nice leisurely ride a short way back to the town of Punta Secca which is also right on the coast.  It’s a lovely place with a pedestrian promenade all along the water, and miles of fine sand beach, as well as a very tall lighthouse.

FBD3F1DF-D206-4AA6-BB7A-2EB65BA9652FIt’s another of the many places the allies landed on July 10, 1943, and there’s a nice memorial to them.  I was so impressed with the village that Colin and I went back a few hours later for lunch.

91D37A94-9B93-4E79-8DE1-4969614B6686The restaurant we chose, after walking along the entire promenade, was the first one we’d seen.  And was it ever good – not cheap – but good!  We both got the calamari, which was stuffed with risotto then sliced and served on a bed of pureed potatoes.  The presentation was beautiful and the meal was delicious.  We had one glass each of a local Sicilian red wine and Colin got the dessert of hot chocolate cake served with cold ricotta.  I had a couple of bites and it was also delicious, although far too sweet for me to indulge in more.

60FAF8BA-8ED3-4EF2-80D4-8196DCB7C141We were content to sit there for a bit but left prematurely as a thin, very white lady in a tiny thong bikini with a large black dog arrived and the dog was very barky towards Mo.  I got up immediately and took Mo for a stroll while Colin finished his espresso.

8792DF1A-DEE3-4E05-B87C-4F973654EABFIt was just the kind of place we’d searched for yesterday to no avail – but well worth the extra day’s wait.  Sand Design Restaurant in Punta Secca – I told him I’d mention it – he described the daily specials in great detail and with pride, and as I said, it was excellent.  We don’t actually eat out that often, but when we do we really appreciate it if it’s something special.794B1775-616C-4847-A15B-8255F55E9D3B

Sicily – Under the Volcano

D5BE5709-05DA-4CDA-897B-2B82A7850B98We left our free parking spot fairly early and took a somewhat faster route south to Reggio Calabria and decided to look for a campground for a day or two rather than try to get a ferry to Sicily right away.

We passed the city, taking note of where the ferry terminal was, and tried to locate one of several campgrounds we’d looked up.  Alas – it was a couple of hours of back-and-forth, up-and-down and all around.  

The only one we finally did find wasn’t open.  We gave up and decided to head straight to Sicily, so on to the ferry terminal we went.  Alas again – there is only passenger/walk on service from the city – the car ferry goes from the town of Villa San Giovanni several miles north.  The ticket guy did write down the name of the company to look for.

F88EF1B2-46AF-49E1-902D-053EB75B2F27Arriving back at Villa San Giovanni – that we’d passed by hours earlier – we found the ticket office for the car ferry.  Having purchased the ticket we then drove through part of the town to get to the actual port – kind of weird system.

We did get on the next ferry after only a short wait – a nice little open deck boat that was packed.  I took a walk around and up to the top promenade area – lots of people, and almost all considerately wearing face masks, as was I.

99BF8E72-CB5E-408E-91FA-9CD3F7694ED6The crossing to Messina took only about 25 minutes – I finally made it to Sicily!!  The Shark of Messina doesn’t live here anymore so we didn’t bother to stop in Messina and were quickly on our way south.

FA593072-A058-43F0-A2DF-5F858F817829We stopped several miles south of Taormina at a campground about 300 meters from the sea – Mt. Etna looms over all, but is quiet at the moment.

3DB6D3A9-5136-4C36-9140-3E725550E524The beach at the end of the road has the usual ‘private’ areas where you can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas – for the bargain price of only 13 euros a day – not sure if parking is included.

364AE58E-6548-49B7-8A24-EFDB1C3BDF41We had a lovely lunch one day at the restaurant right on the sea – there are beautiful flowers everywhere and fantastic views up and down the beach.

6AE5F2F7-0AC6-41DD-AA5F-272531D947F3A90785F2-CB82-4892-BFDD-BA2EC1E68ED314E107C5-83F8-4CE8-A872-2E555EA2034FSunday  morning Mo and I were up at 6:30 and took a walk to the beach – even at that early hour there were a few folks there, but only 3 hours later the place was packed.

38E6ADD6-C5A1-4BDB-869E-53A263D21E9B4BE0793A-9689-41BF-A69B-E439BB013398FBF95EC3-D7EB-44D7-81D3-6E6C851C73886B8E677F-A36E-4F35-89BA-E84023B0E39F5B844D5A-2C1E-468E-9C78-4C4812BBB7E3Mo quite likes my tent, and Henry pops in for a visit from time to time.

C913796C-3F6E-40F6-A193-AB008EA5CACAWe really liked our stay at Almoetia campground – it’s actually quite large and at this time of year there should probably be about 100 campervans or more – sadly there were only four of us.  Hopefully if all continues to go well here their summer business will improve.0BD3228D-0934-486E-94E2-6B1EF764EEDCC6CF1F6B-DC51-484D-AC19-9B4620455FE5


Finally on Vacation – Sicily Here We Come!

B78055EB-16DB-42B7-9E10-CAAE64620140I took a couple more very nice bike rides around the area, and on one I stopped at La Fonte Di San Constanzo which is just below Castello Delle Forme.  Colin has successfully negotiated purchase of the cellar and that’s very good news – still hoping to get the empty lot next to the terrace but may have to be patient.

6D93D025-3B66-41F7-9DA8-FE3D8F55A298The tiger lillies on the terrace have blossomed and they’re a lovely shade of yellow.

D5E9D37F-3D19-408C-B8BF-5775D40A7DB6We finally were able to leave for our trip to Sicily and I’m very excited – this was supposed to happen months ago but was, for obvious reasons, delayed.  Having been ‘forced’ to spend so much extra time in Papiano did make us both appreciate the little village and our neighbours even more, and in a way we’re grateful for the extra time.

BBE2DB95-595F-415D-98C8-A30ACE211BB6We got away at a decent time on Wednesday morning, having done a lot of the packing up the previous day.  We decided to avoid the toll-roads and main highways in favour of smaller, slower roads, so went south to Terni then southeast to L’Aquila, passing through some very beautiful countryside.

62BB5285-8A76-46C9-AC86-24278610CC86We stopped for a bite to eat just south of L’Aquila, then continued south to Avezzano and eventually reached the west coast near Salerno.  We drove south along the coast until we came to a campground near a beach and decided to call it a day.

291D0D2E-1672-4F37-ADFD-1AE571E1536454D6C0FF-FA20-4F83-A6FA-47AAFD459EFCThe beach access was only a short walk away, and we watched the sun set over the sea –  a nice end to a nice, but kind of long day.

ED3786C4-F6F5-45F6-A3CE-B4ECC5110A8221B049B6-5836-450F-9F07-34EA1EC927AAWe got another decent start Thursday morning but didn’t cover nearly as many miles.  

B532CE5E-4C64-4270-B88D-CF83E3FCE8B5We followed the very winding coast road south passing through Paestum and Agropoli before stopping in Acciaroli for cappuccino on the beach.

A93AA12C-F914-4AF2-8F08-AF497FEBA4C5Feeling refreshed we continued on along the beautiful coast, stopping again at Marina di Casal Velino for lunch.

CD413AC7-2EDC-4EAE-BC23-6954B0FE451BWhile walking along I spotted what I think must be one of the worst advertising ideas ever – what does this look like?  I believe it’s supposed to be a croissant being dipped in coffee, but to me it looks like a giant turd – we kept walking. 

57EF4AE1-F242-4C1C-8B9B-78D472E4CFABWe settled on a nice looking restaurant next to the marina and got an outside table so the doggies could join us.  We were both very pleased with our choices – Colin got the spaghetti with scampi and I chose the pasta with ‘fruits of the sea’.

EE58B760-3514-4B4E-9142-1FD55D233D79My jaw dropped when I got my dish – it was so huge I couldn’t believe I would be able to finish it, but I did – with only a little help.  It was three kinds of shellfish on a bed of vermicelli with a delicious tomato sauce – just wonderful.

3AB4CD71-6B7A-4C51-A27F-145A44672EF3At one point we stopped again so the dogs could have a little break, and across the road was a large garbage bin with a sign saying ‘environment = tourism’, and apparently they don’t empty the bin very often as there were dozens and dozens of bags of trash lining the edge of the road around it.

7E57F866-4C0F-40F7-989D-8D47BF7814E5A little further on there were concrete barriers on the road, placed so that larger vehicles couldn’t proceed.  The two cars in front of us went thru, and there was just enough room for the campervan – we soon found out why.  For a couple of km the road was buckling and starting to crumble with small landslides along the edges – slow going, but we made it safely to the other side.

6043716E-3807-4F79-AE37-E46D53AEBB4CWe stopped for the night at a free spot right across from the sea in Praia a Mare.  We had a drink at a seaside cafe, parked the campervan and went for a nice walk along the boardwalk.  

8D45E05B-3E07-4710-BC37-BAE026B5373ED79EEA1A-D40A-4B64-9542-FA63104180A4There are nice wide walking and cycling paths, and an outdoor gym area right near where we’re parked.FB7C9A95-7535-4E7B-8544-6B7B93FC753948EFA92A-900D-414A-8947-14B653E28D67

Lockdown Lifted (a bit), Day Tripping

4BB014D2-6C04-4788-8852-841B7FF0DF2BLast week we took advantage of the slight easing of our lockdown restrictions and went to Ikea just outside Ancona on the Adriatic coast.  We had a good long shopping list and managed to get almost everything on it.  I debated leaving a trail of peanuts to follow back out in case I got claustrophobic in the maze but did make it to the exit without freaking out.

C03CDF97-5A62-45F4-B0E3-0D9BFB925EFEPutting the kitchen pantry/shelving unit together the next day was fun – kind of – and the resulting space and organization is very much appreciated.  I also got a huge wooden cutting board to roll out my pasta on and it’s beautiful.  I’m getting better at making pasta – or at least it’s not nearly so messy.

07FC8AD0-4410-4FE6-A349-B5E555BE305BWe’ve taken a couple of short trips for lunch at Il Ristoro at Lake Trasimeno, as well as one to Montefalco.  There’s some work being done on the highway that runs from Perugia to Rome and it happened that the exit for the shortest route east to Montefalco was closed off so we took another road a bit further south.  It was longer and wound more through the hills but we saw some very beautiful countryside.

21792D70-1408-4517-A812-BCC426CDB89339355AE7-B65F-4D19-A602-400F20640C37Not many restaurants were actually open, but we did manage to find one with a large outdoor terrace and a view over the plain to Foligno and Bevagna.

CBD86A36-DE9E-4B90-B7CF-F0B9A158A8C2 We were the only ones there until a group of old men began arriving – I think they were there to drink espresso and play cards.

7DC5BF3B-DDB4-448D-B274-B5254FBAA95E99641F43-6851-4B10-AA90-D6A2700215A3On our way back to the parking area we noticed a little pet house and a dish up against the high stone wall – we guessed it’s for some of the local cats.

38491D86-20CF-46B6-9C6F-F56A7813D2A4I’ve continued to go for nice bike rides every couple of days – I never really get lost and am getting to know the different back gravel roads better.

7D83F4CD-1E7C-427B-B8E7-2D0BC434352EC233DC2E-FC3E-44A5-B6BF-1A24D78D859FWe’ve had a couple more bad storms, complete with lightning and thunder – Mo barks every time the thunder rumbles, as if to warn it that she’s very fierce and it better leave us alone.

B8E7C7F8-B2A6-459F-AD7C-D9AD87296DB7Colin and I have both joined a local facebook group and have posted a few photos that are getting lots of thumbs up.  I imagine a few folks are puzzled about my name – real name vs facebook persona – but they do seem to appreciate my photography of their beautiful village and surrounding area.32307F6E-C1EA-4918-9366-1952EDB94400