We are now into September, and tomorrow it will be five months since we’ve been here. My sister left a couple weeks ago after a five week visit. After my visits to Christy in New Zealand and Mexico, we are now into our third “when in your life will you ever again have a chance to visit your sister in a foreign country” trip. My parents and grandmother arrived just before Christy left. This was my dad’s first trip to Europe and I loved showing him around my new home. My mom and grandmother have been travel buddies for years and have gone all over Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. My grandmother has been to near 40 countries, and now at 90 years old made the trip out to Sicily. We’ve loved showing them around the island, and were able to take a trip to the Sorrento Peninsula and Pompeii.
This week we took another trip to the Villa Romana del Casale in central Sicily. It’s the location of the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world – they were covered by a mudslide about 800 years ago and as a result are beautifully preserved. The villa is thousands of square feet large, and all of the floor is mosaic.
We also visited Caltagirone, the center of the ceramic industry in Sicily. My mom fulfilled her goal of buying Italian pottery, and I got a few pieces myself. Caltagirone is famous for their ceramic steps, which connect the upper and lower parts of town.
We’ve spent a lot of days swimming down near the harbors in Aci Trezza and Aci Castello. The coast here is rocky, which doesn’t make for good beach sitting, but the water is crystal clear. The super salty water makes it near impossible to do anything but float, and the rocks and fish provide good visual entertainment.
We had a perfect trip up north to Pompeii. We stayed at Il Pettirosso Agriturismo in Agerola, perched up in the mountains above the Amalfi Coast. Agriturismos provide a room and meals in a farm/B&B type setting. The food is always fresh and the hosts are always friendly. The first morning there it rained buckets of water. We had a rather adventurous drive through the windy roads-turned-streams (thanks Sean for driving!) and ended up in some flooded roads at the bottom of the hill. We made it to Pompeii though, and had a relatively uncrowded day with only a minor rainstorm.
Pompeii is very impressive. Despite being stripped of much of it’s marble and splendor by the people who originally discovered it (and the hundreds of years under piles of volcanic ash), the city is very well preserved. It’s amazing to see the buildings and layout of the ancient city, unchanged by modern times. On our drive back home we took the road along the beautiful Amalfi Coast.