In the Mountains at Casal Velino Italy

Casal Velino is the old fortified mountain town for Casal Velino Marina (the beach town). When pirates came the residents would light fires on towers along the shoreline to warn the next town. Very quickly a hundred miles could be warned. Residents of the marina would then flee with their possessions to their mountain town.

Today Casal Velino Marina is a summer resort with great beaches but Casal Velino is a sleepy mountain town. This town is worth a stop and can easily be reached by car. There is parking in the town. In the parking lot is a bar. You can relax here inside or outside with a coffee, wine or beer and something to eat. From the main road, Via Roma which turns into Via Lippi, you can walk to an old church on off a small piazza. from here you can walk down into a residential area with gardens. You can go all the way down to Via Circumvallazione. Turn left and it will bring you back up to Via Lippi.

From the corner of Via Lippi and Piazza 23 Luglio there is a small street up a set of stairs called Via Giordano. This leads you into an old area of this city. It is residential. The roads are very narrow. Some are pedestrian only and others can be driven on by small cars.

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You can follow this all the way to the end of town. We met older lady that lived here all her life. She was concerned that so many of her neighbors were selling their homes.

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As we walked along this ancient road, we thought about the old times and the current times. We met several residents. We saw an old structure with an old set of stairs that were overgrown with weeds and grass.

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This city will take you back in time.

From the main road and parking area, there are wonderful views down to the sea and Casal Velino Marina.

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Tomorrow we will visit Castelnuovo Cilento, another small mountain town with its castle.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Campania, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Cilento, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Romance, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At the Beach in Scario Italy

Scario is south of us in Italy. There is a good highway (SP430) the meanders south through the mountains (tunnels) to the beach area of Scario, Sapri and Villamare. Sapri is a major stop on the railroad. A new high-speed train runs from Naples to Sapri. Scario is a beach town that looks south to Sapri and the mountains that contain Maratea. Maratea has the 5th largest cross on the mountain top. It can be seen from Scario on a clear day. You can drive up to this cross.

Scario is on the side of a hill leading down to the sea and docks. Follow signs to parking, docks and boat loading areas. You will come to a street that runs from the parking area along the sea. There are restaurants and docks with boats and fisherman everywhere.

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At the far end of this road is an old church which is now a private home.

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From this old church go down the steps toward the sea to a path that runs back along the church. The views are great. There are streets that are narrow, some turn into stairs, others are a steep climb up the hill.

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One restaurant right on the beach is Tipiteca. You can sit outside near the water and eat wonderful Sicilian dishes. The owners mother cooks them from old Sicilian recipes. We had a fish encrusted with pistachios and of course some pasta.

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The owner is very friendly and speaks English.

Nearby, a sign on the wall says Adesso ci siam noi (Now we are there).

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As you walk this small seaside town, you know you are there!

Tomorrow we travel back up to our area to a small mountain town called Casal Velino. A town forgotten by time.

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Campania, Casal Velino, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Maratea, Mountain Towns, Naples, Romance, Sapri, Scario, Sicily, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, Villamare | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ascea Beaches in Italy

Ascea is a beach town south of where we live in Campania. It has a long road along the beach with plenty of sandy beaches. It is a Blue Flag beach.

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These beaches have a gentle rolling surf and wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. You have two choices at these beaches:

  1. Free public area – Bring your own umbrella and chairs.
  2. Clubs – Pay and get umbrella, table and chase lounges

The clubs usually have free WiFi and music. You can also have a lunch at them. Lunch is not just sandwiches and pizza but swordfish, pasta and salads. You can also get beer, wine and prosecco with lunch or at your table on the beach. The food is wonderful and you have great views.

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On Thursdays the close a section of the beach road and set up vendor stalls for a market. This market is mostly clothes and kitchen ware.

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There is a train that stops here from Salerno, Naples and Rome. It continues south to Sicily.   When going to Ascea, don’t miss Velia and ancient Greek ruin. This was a huge seaside city in ancient times.

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This is the way to enjoy the beach Italian style. Enjoy!

Tomorrow we travel south along the coast to the seaport of Scario.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Ascea, Blue Flag Beaches, Campania, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Southern Italy, Trains, WiFi, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paestum, The Greek City in Italy

Paestum is a perfectly preserved ancient Greek ruin in Italy from 600 BC. It was preserved because of a malaria outbreak here in the 18th century. We have written about this ruin before but it is such an important site, we wanted to write about it again. After coming down the mountain from scary town of Castelcivita, we needed lunch and some wine. We headed to Paestum and found a great restaurant just off the ruins property.

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This trattoria was perfect. We sat outside and could see one of the temples at Paestum. Lunch and the wine were perfect. We had parked inexpensively in a lot across from the trattoria. Refreshed we walked up the street to enter Paestum. You have to buy your entrance tickets at the museum across the street from the ruins and then enter through gates to the ruins. The street here is a bit touristy with a lot of trinket stands.

After entering Paestum, we walked the paths through the ruins and saw three great temples and the remains of a coliseum.

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Paestum is located about halfway between The A3 Autostrada at Battipaglia and Agropoli. It is just inland from the sea. The sea here is a gulf and to the south you can see Agropoli and to the north Salerno and the Amalfi Coast. On a clear day you can see the island of Capri. This is a do not miss stop if you are in the Amalfi Coast area.

Tomorrow we visit the beach city of Ascea. It is summer and ones thoughts go to the beaches. This area of Italy has the best beaches around.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agropoli, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Campania, Castelcivita, Coliseum, Europe, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Museums, Paestum, Salerno, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Castelcivita Italy – A scary ride!

Castelcivita is a small mountain town in southern Campania, Italy. It is East of Paestum in the mountains. This is a story of why not to listen to your GPS. On the trip up the mountain the GPS told us to turn right onto a small dirt road twice. We ignored it and finally were approaching Castelcivita. We saw a sign to Castelcivita to the left but our GPS said go straight. We followed the GPS. Soon the road became a very small road. At a hair pin curve it turned to a dirt road on a 1,000 foot cliff. We knew this had to be wrong but how could we turn around? The cliff was on the left and a hill going up on the right. There was a small flat area and we turned around very cautiously. As we got back to the main road, we vowed to always follow signs over the GPS.

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Soon we were in Castelcivita, a very small city mainly of stairs. The road went up a hill and we had a choice, a hair pin curve onto a very small street or straight into a small piazza. After the GPS experience we went straight. This was an area big enough to easily turn around. There was no parking in the piazza but on the road in we saw parking along the road. We parked and walked back into the piazza. The view of the road up to this city was spectacular.

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This is a very unique mountain city. No shopping and not many restaurants but a lot of stairs going up … up to the castle at the top.

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We stopped at a bar to chat with the locals and get our bearings. They told us to climb some more. George made friends with a local dog.

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and soon we were in a small piazza at the very top of the city. Here was an old castle tower.

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Now the easy part, it was all downhill to the car. It was a scary drive at first but it was wonderful to see this city untouched by tourism.

Tomorrow we drive down the mountain and visit Paestum, the ancient Greek city.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Campania, Castelcivita, Driving in Italy, Europe, Italy, Mountain Towns, Paestum, Small Towns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Castelabate and Santa Maria Castelabate

Santa Maria Castelabate is a beach resort very near the town of Agropoli in southern Campania. Like most Italian towns it has a sister town, Castelabate, high up in the mountain and walled to protect against pirate invasions. Today the only invasions are from tourists. This town was the location of a very funny Italian movie called Benvenuti del Sud. This is an exaggerated movie on the differences between the Italian north and the south. The video is only in European DVD format (PAL).

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In the movie, a postal worker is assigned here from Milan. He wears a bullet proof vest and is told that the south is the wild west. There is a sign in the town that says here you do not die.

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In the movie the sign was changed to read here everyone dies. The town has an old castle at the top. The best parking is near here on the road up from Santa Maria Castelabate. After several sets of stairs down and small passageways we arrived at the piazza where the film was made.

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The bar at the end of the piazza was the Post Office in the movie.

Near the parking lot is a great place to eat overlooking the cliff down to Santa Maria Castelabate.

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At the base of the mountain on the sea is the beach town of Santa Maria Castelabate. It has a walkway called the Promenade. There are beaches and plenty of restaurants and bars. Parking along the Promenade is easy.

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These two towns have everything for a tourist. The beaches are beautiful, the mountain town has scenic views and the food, as always, is fantastic. Enjoy your stay. The town of Paestum is near here just north of Agropoli. Be romantic in the most romantic country in the world!

Tomorrow we visit Castelcivita for a scary ride up to this mountain town.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agropoli, Beaches, Campania, Castellabate, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Movie, Movies, Paestum, Parking Garage, Romance, Small Towns, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vallo della Lucania

Vallo della Lucania is the largest city near our home in Velina. It has a hospital and is a college town. This is a large mountain city without many steps. The center doesn’t allow cars but parking is easy and you can walk in. The central piazza is beautiful stone work but this last trip it was all ripped up and being replaced.

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November 2013 Piazza

This is a great town to walk in. Some of its streets are very narrow and invite exploration.

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As in any Italian town, there are street markets on some days. You have to walk around and find them.

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This town is served by a limited access highway the SP430. This road leads south to Sapri and Maratea and north to Agropoli, Paestum and the Autostrada A3. Vallo della Lucania has shops that sell everything you need. Of course there are plenty of restaurants and bars to take an afternoon break at.

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While we were enjoying our process, we saw a church letting out. It was First Communion day and all the boys and girls were in white. Parents were dressed up and heading to this bar to celebrate. If you stop to take in the city and people around you, you can experience wonderful things.

Tomorrow we are off to Castelabate and Santa Maria Castelabate.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Autostrada, Bars, Cafè, Campania, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Vallo della Lucania, Velina, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Home in Velina Italy

The drive south from Florence to Velina takes about 6.5 hours. We drove past Rome, Naples, Salerno and Agropoli. South of Naples you pass to the east of Mount Vesuvius. It is always humbling being close to such a large active volcano. As we exited the Autostrada at Battipaglia (south of Salerno on the A3) you know you are in Buffalo Mozzarella country, You can see buffaloes grazing and every other stores sells the rich mozzarella. In this area is also the ancient Greek ruins at Paestum.

This area of Italy is very mountainous. You know there were violent times here in the past. Today it makes for beautiful Italian countryside. We exit at Vallo Scalo and head to nearby Velina. Velina sits in a valley between high mountains and the sea.

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The mountain peak above is Mount Stella. The view differs each day as rainbows appear and clouds come and go. The food here is mainly fresh seafood.

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Even eating at home on our deck overlooking the mountains and sea is fun and delicious.

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Life here is slow and beaches are clean. One only has to shop the local stores for vegetables, seafood, pastries, wine and bread. Each shop specializes in what they make. You don’t need big refrigerators because you buy fresh each day. There is hardly any frozen items so a freezer is to make ice.

Tomorrow and next week we will visit many small towns and beaches in this area we call home.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Driving in Italy, Europe, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Paestum, Romance, Southern Italy, Sweets, Velina, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Florence Continued …

Florence is a beautiful city but can be crowded. We went early in the season but there was still crowds at David and the Uffizi. You can buy a Florence pass but it is very expensive. It is worthwhile only if you will hit most places you can use it in the time frame designated. A better choice is to buy a reservation for 4 Euros. This gives you a half hour time slot that you get in a special line and basically walk in. David and the Uffizi had hour long lines but we went in with our reservations in a few minutes.

David is at the Accademia Gallery Museum in Florence. There are many things to see here besides David but David is magnificent. His skin looks like flesh not marble. In his left hand is a slingshot and a stone in his right. He is ready for Goliath. There is a small tree stump behind his right leg. This helps support the large statues weight. It keeps it from toppling over.

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David

He was originally in the piazza near the Uffizi but the weather would have destroyed him. They moved him into the museum and made a replica for the piazza.

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Replica

There are unfinished statues in the museum as well. Michelangelo felt they were done! They were breaking out of the stone and he could do no more to improve them.

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Unfinished Statue

Next stop was the Uffizi Museum near the Ponte Vecchio. This was the offices of the Medici and the government of Florence at the time. The museum is very large on both sides of a street. There are many great works of art here like:

  1. Primavera
  2. Venus of Urbino
  3. Adoration of the Magi (several)

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The church of Santa Croce is another large and beautiful church. It can also have lines but there is a peaceful feeling inside.

Crossing the Ponte Vecchio and turning right leads to an old area that was the artist area. There are still some along the main streets but high prices have moved most of them out of Florence.

The best views of Ponte Vecchio are from one of the bridges next to it. You can view the bridge in its entirety and get great photos. Florence has many different types of restaurants that serve meat, fish, pasta and pizza. The wine is good as well. The main wine regions of Italy are nearby and you can find Italy’s finest wines:

  1. Brunello
  2. Montepulciano
  3. Chianti

Enjoy your stay in Florence. Spend at least 3 nights (two full days). Buy reservations and enjoy what this great city has to offer.

Tomorrow we drive south on the Autostrada to our home in Velina (Campania).

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: City Passes, Euro, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Museums, Pizza, Romance, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florence, The City of the Rennaisance

Florence is the largest city we visited on this trip. It is a wonderful city of museums and sites. This is home to David, the duomo, the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge). We will discuss Florence over the next few days. Today we will talk about the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and the Piazzale Michelangiolo.

Our trip in was by car. Florence is a big city with a lot of small streets. The center has restricted driving but you can drive in if you have a hotel reservation. We found a garage around the corner from our hotel and we had only two small streets to take to get there. Our first view was when we crossed the Ponte Santa Trinita (bridge). We looked down the river and saw the old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio.

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This old bridge used to sell meats and food but the rulers, the Medici, didn’t like the smell so they banned all sales on the bridge except gold. To this day it is full of gold jewelry shops. This is a fun bridge to walk across. If you notice the top of the bridge, there is a passage way. You can go in this by appointment only. It was used by the Medici to cross from their palace (Pitta) to the Uffizi where they worked and ruled.

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There is a gelato store at the other side of Ponte Vecchio if you are there on a hot day.

The Duomo is impressive on the outside. The inside is not as impressive as the duomo in Siena. The baptistery is separate from the church because an unbaptized person couldn’t enter the church. The doors tell a bible story in gold. These are a replica since being outside would eventually ruin them. The originals are in the Opera del Duomo museum nearby.

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Lines can be very long at the Duomo and Baptistery. Go early or later in day. The piazza that includes the duomo is impressive. Stroll around it and be amazed that we humans could build such a structure in marble.

The last thing to discuss today is the Piazzale Michelangiolo. This is a small area high on a hill across the Arno River. From here you can see fantastic vistas of all of Florence. You can go by bus, taxi or walk. We walked and there are a lot of stairs but the vista was worth it. You cross the bridge, Ponte all Grazie (one down from Ponte Vecchio) and follow the signs to the Piazzale Michelangiolo. Soon you will be on a long set of stairs. At the top is a tourist trap and the most beautiful views of Florence. Do not miss this!

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Tomorrow we will continue our tour of Florence.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Florence, Gelato, Italy, Parking Garage, Romance, Taxi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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