This week we have travelled up from the toe of Italy and have visited six UNESCO world heritage sites. Being in a motorhome enables you to get to these amazing places quite easily. That said, parking can be a problem so you may have to use public transport to get to the sites or walk.
To be honest you have to be careful not to get UNESCO’ed out. This is very easy to do and when something overwhelms you with its magnificence, you can just breeze by if you are not careful, more on that later.
It had been a while since we had been able to do any washing, so a proper campsite was required. Careful reading of reviews pointed us to a campsite in Cirò Marina. Like many reviews, it was subjective. They liked it ... we did not. That said, the washing machines and dryers were up to the job we needed. We have to be honest, the weather can affect your view of a place and we are trying to cover a lot of places on our ‘Long Way Home’!
View across the gorge to the old town of Matera
So, with all our clothes, and NiKi all clean, we headed off on an intense UNESCO week. Elddis have asked us to visit as many as we can as we journey back to the UK, so first stop was Matera. We had never heard of this stunning place until now and would recommend everyone to visit.
For the motorhome visitor there are many places to stay. We stayed in the park opposite the city. This is an amazing place, where the old town was built into the rocks so most of the houses are partly, if not totally, cave dwellings. The scenery is breath taking and we had our best meal in Italy in Soul Food!
You really get how deep the gorge is here!
An unhappy Karen crossing the wire bridge to the town.
In a old monastery converted into an art gallery.
Matera’s UNESCO plaque - the city will be the European City of Culture in 2019.
Aerial view from the highest point.
From Matera we travelled to Pompeii, as per our schedule. This is an area with more UNESCO sites than you can shake a stick at! We stayed at Camping Spartacus just outside the ruins. Over three days we visited the ruins of Pompeii. We had been advised to get the audio guide, and would say this brought the place alive. We spent over 5 hours here and loved it, really got a feel for what Roman life was like. We also had our first visit to a brothel... It closed in 72AD but is very evocative, with risqué frescos on the walls.
The forum of Pompeii - the beating heart of the city - with its nemesis Vesuvius in the background.
Abbey Road does not get a look in at Pompeii!
In the visitors centre is a full introduction to the ruins that bring the place alive. Here is the 3D map explaining where everything is.
Just a tiny view of the items collected throughout the city of Pompeii
The theatre of Pompeii - the acoustics are amazing!
The mosaics in the entrance hall of one of the villas in Pompeii
A takeaway Pompeii style ... there was even money in the till when they excavated this!
Some more of the amazing mosaics of Pompeii.
The next day was a little more intense, as we headed off to our second set of Roman ruins at Heracleum. For some reason we did not find this so alluring, but perhaps we were ruined out.
So on to Sorrento and the Amlalfi coast we took a train to Sorrento and a bus along the coast. We were so glad that we left NiKi behind! The drops were hundreds of feet and the drivers nuts as usual. The bus driver was even passing cars on blind bends!
The view along the Amalfi Coast is just stunning!
At least that made us look at the scenery, as looking at the road was not an option!! We got off at the picturesque town of Positano and enjoyed some sun and walked on the beach. Even out of season it was very busy. We hopped back on the bus to Sorrento for a relaxing dinner to prepare us for the next day in Naples.
A happy selfie at Positano on the Amalfi coast.
A shady view of Positano - the most picturesque town on the Amafi coast.
And a sunny view!
Outside one of the many lovely museums of Naples ... don’t you love the sign writing?!
We had luck on our side for the trip to Naples. With sun shining it made the dirt and graffiti along the route look somewhat benign. It is something we both have disliked intensely here in southern Italy. The way the landscape is littered with rubbish, the walls, trains and buildings are covered in graffiti and the people seem not to notice or care. We hope that as we move north this may improve!
The Nolana Market in Naples with hundreds of stalls selling everything from counterfeit goods to fish that were swimming nearby just hours ago.
The plaque announcing Naples UNESCO heritage.
The best pizza in the home of pizza ... unfortunately the locals arrived before us, so we went for number three and it was great, too!
That said, we took a while to get through the grunge of Naples and felt its 2,500 years of history strongly. It has a real edginess to it and felt that you would not want to be too showy here. We slowly found the sites the Duomo, and the Church of Gesù Nuovo, a ‘Kinder Surprise’ 'nothing on the outside but total awesome inside!' Finally we took our ‘Lonely Planet’ guides advice and paid to visit one more place.
The Museo Cappella Sansevero This has to be the highlight of our week, the statue of the veiled Christ, in our opinion must be the most beautiful piece of art we have ever seen. Even though the church has a multitude of other amazing works, the veiled Christ will stay with you long after you have returned home. You cannot take pictures, so here is a picture of a postcard just to give you a flavour!
We have now been in Italy for six weeks and have visited 10 UNESCO world heritage sites, so much so, it seems like every paving stone you trip over has some historic significance.
The driving here in the south of Italy is also a strain. Off the Autostrada the roads are awful! We are going to take a day or two before we arrive at the Eternal City of Rome and go culture all over again!
The cathedral of Naples inside more glory and beauty.
The 2,500 year old street layout makes getting around on bicycles, mopeds or on foot the best option.
In Naples, football rivals religion. Here a load of locals sitting watching Roma v Napoli. With a 2-1 win to the locals all remains calm!
In conclusion, what is Italy like off season for the Motorhome traveller? It is maddening! Driving is dangerous ... It is very, very expensive, with diesel at €1.40 a litre. Some Italians try to push the limits with travellers and tourists, so check your bill every time!
It is also joyous, generous, tasty, historic and fun. But be ready to have your mood switch three to four times a day!!
The route this week: