|As we come to the time to say arrivederci to Taormina Sicilia (Sicily) we thought we’d reflect on our time spent in Italy enjoying the solitude at the beginning, embracing a new culture in the middle and having a few laughs overall.
Our (re) introduction to Italy was not what we had expected. We challenged ourselves by getting from Rome to Florence by our own instincts straight after 22 hours of flying but we did it! Our highlight in Florence was walking around the city first thing in the morning with hardly anyone else around. Our lighthouse moment was when I asked Karen to find me a particular street. In seconds she points to a sign and says “there it is!” To which I reply “I meant on the map”
We then boarded a train the next day (still slightly jet lagged or hung over) to get to Foligno where we enjoyed 4 days of quiet bliss in a converted unused hotel/restaurant come family home/art studio high in the hills near Camarino. It was extraordinary. We tapped into our creative side (as best as we could.... but practice makes perfect as they say). The highlights here was location, atmosphere, food and learning.
After enjoying home cooked Italian meals that consisted of 2 courses for both lunch and dinner every day, we said our goodbyes to new friends and took the train back to Rome. Free to “roam Rome” we tried to fit in as much as our feet and legs would allow (which, in the end wasn’t much ). Day one we stayed on the hop on hop off bus and just rode the loop all day until we snagged the front seat.. this was fun and required little energy in the heat that has gripped Italy. We soon made a new friend who’s familiar with Rome so we allowed her to be our guide to visit the colosseum, the forum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps at night. By now we felt we’ve “got this” so off we go to do a private tour of the Vatican Museums. We got caught up in the splendour of St. Peter’s basilica that we were running late for our next private tour of Borghese museum. That is correct.. we were running ♀️!! Through the gardens, lost, looking for a big cream building that was a palace... how could they hide such a thing? But Romans are clever and it was hidden well however we eventually made it, red faced, out of breath, you got the picture. We were in awe of the renaissance artwork, especially Bernini’s sculptures... given that he was only 20yo when he was commissioned for his first grand piece. These private tours were definitely a highlight in Rome as was seeing the colosseum lit up at night. The lighthouse moment was when we were on the hop on/off bus and we drove straight past one of the stops confusing those waiting to get on with one loudly saying “where are you going?”.... you had to be there lol
We were just starting to “fit in” with the way of life in Rome when it was time to meet our bus buddies for our Boot and Ball Tour. We now had to adjust to being on an organised tour... we can only compare this to being caught in a current and being swept downstream, no point in fighting it, just go with the flow. The main advantage of an organised tour is we don’t have to struggle with our suitcases every day, this was a blessing. During the tour we saw the standard tourist spots, learnt about the history, culture and the Mafia as well as meeting some interesting people along the way... such as Robert De Niro moonlighting as a waiter.
There were many highlights, such as standing on top of an active volcano, the drive up to “The Godfather” village, seeing Greek ruins, Sorrento and Capri. Our lighthouse moments award goes to our tour director/shepherd Antonio with such comments as: “kill two pigeons with one stone”, “the sea is as flat as oil” and “contain your hunger”.
As the Boot and Ball Tour was nearing the end our self doubts started to rise as we needed to arrange travel from Palermo to Taormina. It was starting to look like too difficult of a task that Karen was considering cancelling this part and having us stay in Palermo instead. But with grit, determination and two train rides we made it. And it was worth it. Our suite is amazing, views are amazing and some of the staff are friendly (they just tend to be grumpier at the end of the day). We had come here in hopes of meeting Jim, the owner however it turns out he’s on tour in USA. Our highlight moment would be meeting Sam. A nice young Scottish lad who’s been quite friendly to us and happened to have mentioned his uncle owns this hotel... that’s right! We’re one degree from meeting Jim as we’ve met his nephew instead (our Simple Minds amuse us lol)
Soon we will be making our way to Abu Dhabi for the final leg of our travels. Luckily I’ve packed something to calm our nerves as we may need this