At the beach La spiaggia 

Knowing that we would most likely be in an August heat wave, we have tried to stay  close to the water. 

We are about 50 feet above the sea and 50 feet away. The views are stunning. Temps have been in the upper 80s and the sun is intense. Really intense. Fa caldo.

This is the perfect spot for diving and snorkeling. When we were in the water yesterday small fish kept checking out our legs.

Access to the beach is free, but if you wish the comforts on a lounge chair, and umbrella you must pay. In this case it was 25 euro for the day, and well worth it. Today we will bring an umbrella from our apartment and give it a try on the cheap side. Means no fresh water shower and sitting on the rocky shore on a borrowed towel. We will see. The water is so clear you can see the bottom  in 6 ft depths.  Fish swim by and not plastic or pollution is in evidence. A note about the beach lounge chairs. They are far superior to the ones found in the US. If you wish to lean back, there is a line with a hook that releases the chair to find a comfortable position. What I really like is the folding sun screen to keep the sun our of your face. Wish they were available in Florida. 

Some scenes from last night as the sun set.

I love the middle photo my wife took took through the window last night.

Below shows where we are in relation to the town of Siracusa in Sicily. 

The money saving word of the day Ridotto

OK this is to all you seniors out there.  In the past senior discounts were restricted to EU residents.  Recently more places are extending the discounts to everyone.  It never hurts to ask, may not work in the Uffizi or other major attractions. Worked in Castelbuono, and in Tindari both in Sicily.   Text from my UltraLingua dictionary.

Saving Money On Car Rentals

Car rental rates have soared in the last several years.  Even using  sites like Kayak and Priceline you tend to get some high rates.  Some time ago I saw a reference in the New York Times to a site called Autoslash.com.   I tried it earlier this summer and was able to get a very reasonable rate for the July 4th week in Hartford, Connecticut.   previously my best rate for the week was about $400. I ended up paying $241 and got the car from Hertz. That was a substantial savings thanks to AutoSlash.

I have booked a 21 day rental in Sicily and did quite a bit of shopping.  I searched Hertz, Auto Europe, and Avis.  Each gave me rates that were in the  $800 range. AUTOSLASH 2 2017-08-11 at 4.04.39 PM.jpgAUTO SLASH SAVINGS.jpg Hertz got down to about $760 and it was looking better. I got a quote from AutoSlash and found that they could get me a $747 rate for the same period and they would continue to search for updates to the rate. Hertz is the provider.

Now  for the really good news! We leave on Tuesday and today I got an email saying they checked rates and it went from $765.51 to $305.89.  This is a substantial savings.  Note the original quote I got was $747 but Hertz raised it. When I brought this to the attention of AutoSlash they contacted Hertz and got the rate reduced.

Give AutoSlash a try and compare with other search engines. Hotwire, Hotels.com, Kayak have been helpful to me in the past, but not have reduced the rates after booking.

You do not pay up front!  Also keep in mind many credit card companies will cover your CDW which can save you several hundred dollars on a rental.

I have no affiliation with any site mentioned above. P1010826.jpg

Always good to have some tape. In Palermo a driver strayed into my land and hit the mirror. He then continued as if nothing had happened.  Luckily I had some tape and we survived.  I rented with Europcar and got it through InItaly.com.  They covered the damage  but still charged me $100.   That is why credit card CDW is better. BUT read your credit card agreement throughly.

 

Papal Audience Tickets

After searching and searching  I found the following site which will allow you to get tickets to a Papal Audience. I hope you find this of use if you are going to be in Rome this year.

On most Wednesday you can attend the public audience in St Peters Square in front of St Peters Basilica.  You can request the tickets  by email and there is no charge. You will be directed to the web site to St Patrick’s American Community in Rome.  All the information you will need can be found on this page.

Saint Patrick’s American Community in Rome

Once you are on the page, the ticket link is on the right side  of the page. Allow two to three weeks for a response. You must pick up your tickets in Rome the day before the audience.

 

Here is a copy of the reply I received for my request:

The St. Patrick’s Catholic American Community of Rome is happy to assist you with 2 tickets for the Pope’s General Audience on Wednesday  September 13,  2017 at 10:00 AM in St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City. While the Pope begins his presentation at 10:00, the gates open at 8:00 and the seating fills up quickly.  We strongly recommend arriving early.  The audience usually lasts for one hour. Please check  www.vatican.va  under info/Prefecture for any change in the program.

 

Reserved Tickets can be picked up on Tuesday afternoon, September 12,  2017 between 4:30 and 6:30 PM ONLY in the Foyer/Sacristy of the Church of St. Patrick (San Patrizio a Villa Ludovisi), Via Boncompagni, N. 31 (near the corner of Via Boncompagni and Via Piemonte) near the US Embassy and the Via Veneto. The Church itself will open at 4:00 PM, and you are welcome to come inside.  However, we do not begin the distribution of tickets until 4:30 PM. And if you would like to stay and join us, our weekday Mass in English at St. Patrick’s is at 6:00 PM.

 

If you are unable to pick up your tickets on Tuesday afternoon, on Wednesday morning between 7:30 and 8:30 AM you can go to the Bronze Doors – St. Peter’s  Square – Vatican City –  and ask the Swiss Guards for tickets to attend the General Audience.  

 

Please Note:   The tickets are Free of Charge, but we ask you to consider making a free will offering of 5 Euros or 5 U.S. Dollars per ticket so that we can continue to offer this service.

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Saint Peters Basilica, Rome

Into the Heart of Sicily by Julien Zolli

Here is another video by Julien Zolli. He capture the sights, sounds and tastes of Sicily. From cities to tiny villages, Sicily never fails to charm a traveler. The beaches help one escape the heat that has plagued Europe this year.  If you visit, renting a car is the best way to get around. The roads are good and the views are amazing.

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The gentlemen of Ericie, Sicily.

 

Off the Beaten Path: San Giovanni in Fiore

In 2001 we made our first sojourn to southern Italy by car. Our destination was Sicily and we had several stops along the way. In Cosenza we stayed at the Hotel San Francesco. Cosenza was a nice town and we were going to take a day drip. The receptionist at the hotel suggested San Giovanni in Fiore.  Her directions ( pre GPS days) were follow the signs for Sila, a mountainous region about forty-five minutes away. It is home to the Parco Nazionale della Sila. We followed the signs and eventually arrived in San Giovanni in Fiore.  fullsizeoutput_147f.jpeg

At first there  was not much to see. The streets were empty of people but as we approached  the center we came upon the Abbey.  Music was coming from the abbey and a young man approached us.  He said he was a tour guide and brought us into the Abbey,fullsizeoutput_51fd.jpeg

The town appeared deserted.fullsizeoutput_51fe.jpegThe abbey.DSCN3958.JPGToday there was a wedding in progress.

DSCN3959.JPGThe original abbey burned in 1215 and  was rebuilt on a new location in 1230. DSCN3960.JPGThe interior shows the stone walls.    We left the abbey and our tour guide took us to a piccolo ristorante.  As is common in Italy, there was no sign and the door was a strubg if beads hanging down to prevent flies from coming in. DSCN3968.JPGThe entrance certainly did not attract a crowd. DSCN3969.JPGLunch was fantastic.  We were give a glass of grappa to finish off the meal.  In the mirror you can see the only other customers that day. I especially liked the stone work which is so prevalent in Calabria. DSCN3970.JPGAnother street with out anyone around.fullsizeoutput_51ff.jpegAs we left to head back to  Cosenza, we ran into a small traffic jam. This is why I love Italy.

Map of San Giovanni in Fiore

https://goo.gl/maps/YqthxkPg6hq

TODAY IN THE WASHINTON POST: The Ape celebrates 70 years.

What you say is an APE, not an ape, but the ubiquitous little combination of a motorcycle and pickup truck that plugs along all of Italy’s roadways.

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Credit photo and text above from the Washington Post.

The Ape hauls almost anything, from buildng materials to fruit and fiish. fullsizeoutput_d66d.jpegA clasic Ape in Toscanafullsizeoutput_d66f.jpegNothing elegant about this baby, plain  and simple, it does the job.fullsizeoutput_d66a.jpegThis one was at an Airbnb in Montepulciano.

fullsizeoutput_d664.jpegfullsizeoutput_d665.jpegfullsizeoutput_d666.jpegNot only did he sell fruit and vegetable, he serenaded the streets with his words on the health of his produce.

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This fruit vendor was in Cefalù, Sicily.   (fruttivendolo)

Some info from  Wikipedia:

At the end of World War II, most Italians, badly affected by the war, lacked means of transport and, more importantly, the financial means to acquire and maintain full-sized four-wheeled vehicles. In 1947, the inventor of the Vespa, aircraft designer Corradino D’Ascanio, came up with the idea of building a light three-wheeled commercial vehicle to power Italy’s economical reconstruction, an idea which found favour with Enrico Piaggio, the son of the firm’s founder, Rinaldo. The very first Ape model and the mark immediately following it were mechanically a Vespa with two wheels added to the rear, with a flat-bed structure on top of the rear axle. The early sales brochures and adverts referred to the vehicle as the VespaCar or TriVespa. The first Apes featured 50 cc,[3]125 cc or 150 cc and more recently 175 cc engines.

It is hard to imagine a 125 CC engine pulling a big load.