No we did not cruise our Joie de Vivre along the Italian canals. In fact there really are no canals to speak of in Italy. Leaving our precious barge safely tucked up in Sixhaven, Amsterdam we braved the journey from Schipole airport to Naples. And yes I do mean we braved the journey. Just like most Australians, the Europeans suffering from lock down fatigue and have taken to the skies to search for happier destinations. Unfortunately on the service side most airports sacked their staff when restrictions were in place and are now struggling to cope with this influx of tourists. We were warned of delays in processing and lost luggage, so we made sure we arrived at the airport 4 hours before departure. This turned out to be a wise decision as the queues just to get through checkin and security were horrendous.
Arriving in Naples we were confronted with many hundreds of pieces unclaimed luggage lined up between the carousels. That did not endear us with the confidence that we would see our possessions in the foreseeable future. But the travel gods were smiling on us, and our bags were the first to be deposited on the carousel.
Staying at the Hotel Excelsior, on the waterfront we enjoyed 3 nights in Naples, a trip to the museum, a journey to the archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and of course a little shopping completed our stay in Naples before we joined our ship, Beyond Capricorn.
The captain pointed out that I failed to mention the great fuss the club officials made of him. They were celebrating their 170 year anniversary and although we were not invited to the party, they presented Peter with a tie and asked him to sign their visitors book.
From Capri we sailed to Ischia, a volcanic island renowned for its thermal waters. Although settled in Roman times, no evidence has been found of Roman ruins. This is perhaps due to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
The captain agreed to delay our departure from Ischia so we could visit the gardens of La Mortella. Said to be the most beautiful gardens in Italy, they were created by Suzanna Walton to inspired her husband, the British classical composer William Walton. Featuring both tropical and Mediterranean plants the garden evolved over 50 years and was opened to the public in 1991
Onto our next destination, Venotene, a small island only 3 kilometres in length and with a maximum width of 800 meters,which is the remains of an ancient volcano. The Roman Emperor Augustus built a large summer palace here early in his reign. It is known as the Villa Giulia, as it is said to be the place where he banished his daughter Julia, for her excessive adultery. Little remains of the ruins, as it has been looted over the years, but not to be deterred we climbed over the fence to investigate this ancient monument.
The port of our next island, Ponza, was not ready to birth Beyond Capricorn, so we anchored off shore for a swim and then went into the port on the tender for pre dinner drinks at the little cafe at the start of the pier. This gave us the opportunity to see our boat arrive in the port.
Ponza is one of 3 islands that form an ancient volcanic caldera, which is created when the magma chamber is emptied after a volcanic eruption and as such boasts spectacular rock formations, caves the grottos. Said to be the island of Aeaea from Homer’s Odessey, where the sorceress Circe resided, Margaret was keen to visit her grotto. As we could not release the tender from Beyond Capricorn, we paid €100 to a private boat operator to take us to the grotto. Although the arrangements for our trip were confirmed,instead of a grotto we were transported to a bay for a swim! Yes as Peter would say we were slickumed. Our reply, a bad write up on trip advisor. Hopefully no other unsuspecting tourists fall for that crooks promises.
After 2 nights in Ponza we anchored off shore from the largely uninhabited island of Palmarola, for a much deserved dip in the sea. You may be interested to know that the islands in this area do not have any natural water. On the inhabited islands the citizens drink bottled water, with additional water bought in by a ship. Not an ideal way to live!
We journeyed back to the mainland, birthing firstly at Nettuno and then Ostia. There is not much to mention about Nettuno. It is largely a beach side resort for Italians with large harbour and a small medieval section, that is dead in the day, but comes alive at night. We did however enjoy a lovely meal ashore
Our final destination was Ostia, which is near Ostia Antica, the ancient Port of Rome. We started our holiday nosing around Roman ruins, so what better way to finish than visiting a Roman port. The archeological park is about 100 hectares, with excavations still in progress and although it was a hot afternoon, we were not deterred from investigating 5 kilometres of this Rome town
Our final night was party night, dress ups, another great meal and dancing. Thankyou to Geoff and our Captain Todd for a fabulous holiday!
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