Some rain, caves and onto the Emerald Princess

We were lucky enough to have avoided the rain yesterday but when we woke this morning it had really set in. Given that this area is best known for its natural beauty we had to decide on an activity that would be best done in inclement weather. We picked the Frasassi Caves. It took us about 2 hours to drive there & we managed to find it without getting lost so that was a plus. We could only imagine how lovely the landscape was that we were driving through as the rain at time was torrential and the clouds and mist low. However we thoroughly enjoyed the caves. They were only discovered in the early 70’s by young men (16yrs to 21 yrs) so the caves are reasonably only new (unlike Jenolan). The tour took us on 1 km of what is a 33 km long chain of caves. It is extremely impressive. The first “room” you come to is a HUGE cave that is big enough to fit the cathedral of Milan into. There were some divine examples of columns and curtains along with lakes throughout. The temperature throughout the caves is an even 14 degrees. They have constructed a man made tunnel that gets you into the caves and has 2 doors that seal the air on the way so that the caves are conserved.

Following the tour, we picked up a terrific panini with porchetta and a beer then headed on home.

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But to my great delight we stumbled upon the Armani outlet! I was in shopping heaven.. although, alas, even at outlet prices I still couldn’t bring myself to buy anything. We did managed to get some undies for Andrew though and a T-shirt that will be fought over by Rod, Josh & Andrew when we get home LOL!

Back at our “home”, we commenced packing & had a lovely conversation with Damien who owns the villa, who filled us in on the background of it. He & his wife bought it in the mid 90’s following his redundancy from project mgt in England. They had moved to Marche first with their two young children & looked at 100 properties before finding this one. It was totally derelict and he had us in stitches explaining their living conditions etc. they used the web to learn how to renovate it & boy have they done a good job.

Rod & I then enjoyed a great pizza again at the pizzeria we discovered the other night then home. We watched a couple of episodes of “Black Books” Ruth had given me then hit they sack.

It has been a wonderful week spent in central Italy. Memories include but of course aren’t limited to:

  • Speeding traffic & overtaking with no overtaking lanes
  • Winding roads and spectacular scenery
  • Lack of wildlife – Traffic signs warning of deer but none to be seen
  • Nearly being shot at
  • Groups of men standing around in bars
  • Camaraderie and village friendliness
  • General lack of rules regarding parking, driving etc
  • Beautiful clean medieval sleepy stone villages

Our day back to Rome started well. The rain was still intermittent but we were up just after 7.. packed then headed into town to have a traditional Italian breakfast of coffee and croissant at the bar. We then set off for Rome to return our car.

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We made good time and dropped off the car without any hitches.. just for future reference the drop off point for Europcar is “B”.

We then caught the train to Civitavechhia via Trastevere, Rome to find our Emerald Princess waiting. It was a long day & we finally got to the port after 3pm. We checked in & found our comfortable cabin.

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The only hitch was that Rod’s bag didn’t arrive with mine. He enquired about it but it still hadn’t turned up by 7.30 & he needed his slacks to go to dinner! He finally found it.. the luggage tag had come adrift!

We took ourselves on our own tour of the ship to get our bearings then enjoyed a couple of drinks at the bar where Barb & I had enjoyed last cruise whilst the cruise set sail & we watched the sunset. It was then back to the cabin to change for dinner which was most enjoyable then a drink & dance at the nightclub.. finally to bed.

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