June 28 2012
I'm not exactly sure where I am this morning, except to say that I am in a lovely home in the town of Avilleno, somewhere near Naples. I had the good fortune to be invited to the home of Sergio, who we met a couple of weeks ago near San Miniato. Sergio has stayed in touch with Sylvia and invited us all down for a visit after the walk. It seemed like a very nice way to end this trip, so here we are - Sylvia and I, that is. Gisella goes home from Rome to Milano today, and Joel will leave Rome on Friday for France so we said goodbye to them last night.
Even though Rome is an amazing place, I have to say it is great to get away from it for a couple of days. I don't care for big cities at the best of times, and I found it especially difficult with all the heat and high volume of tourists. Sleep was next to impossible at the Albergue; the dormitory was like and oven and when we opened the windows to let some air in, the noise and smell from the traffic was even worse. One of the hospitaleros had put a fan in the room, but when Bruno (head hospitalero) saw that the windows were open, he took the fan away again. The logic was that we had a fresh air source so we wouldn't need the fan. He couldn't have been more wrong. In the end, I took my mattress outside to a patio area, and managed to get some sleep, but I was nervous that I would be caught and skulked back in to the dorm early in the morning.
Yesterday we had to be out of the Albergue by 0830 but we wanted to go out early anyway, in order to avoid the big crowds and heat. It was probably 30 degrees by 0900 and the Colosseum was already packed people. Still, we walked around all day, dividing time between the major sites and shopping. I came up dry on the shopping front; no new sandals or dresses for me. I think I am still in pilgrim mode, not in the mood for shopping. We were able to get a late train to Naples, arriving just before midnight and then it was a 30 minute car ride - it feels strange to be in a car again - to Sergio's home.
Later on.....Finally, a chance to use the swimsuit I have lugging around with me for the last 4 weeks; we had a fabulous day swimming in the sea at Paestum and a visit to the Amalfi Coast. Hot sand between my toes, a salty turquoise sea as warm as a bath, enough surf to make it interesting and a lounger under a grass umbrella - was exactly what was needed! In between we visited Greek Doric Temples and a buffalo farm where we sampled all things buffalo, including buffalo mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, smoked buffalo bocconcini, salami and a cappuccino made with buffalo milk! All delicious! Then it was off to the Amalfi Coast, through Salerno and on to the village of Vietre, where we stopped at a specialty store for lovely food products and had a look at the locally produced ceramics. Now, back in Avellina, I have soothed the sunburn I acquired at the beach (will I ever learn?) with a cool shower and lots of Arnica Gel. Once again, I feel tremendously privileged; to be invited here, to have such a fabulous host and Sylvia's excellent company is more than I could have hoped for.
Tomorrow we will visit Mt Vesuvius (wow - pinch me - I never dreamed I wold see all these places) before Sylvia and I go back to Rome on the train or bus. From there, Sylvia will head home to Vienna on the night train and I will take another train to Fuimicino and get a hotel near the airport so I don't have to think about navigating Rome again.