Fiuggi we were picked up by eunice and ...

Trip Start Apr 01, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Agerola Youth Hostel

Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, June 1, 2001


We were picked up by Eunice and Gustavo (Tonya's parents), on the outskirts of Rome, and driven to Fiuggi to commence our "Tour of Tonya's Relatives". Tonya's uncle Silvio is crazy about flying, and over the years has built himself several forms of "aircraft", ranging from a kite with a lawnmower engine, to a 2-man Cessna. Paul would have liked to have gone up in one of the more "substantial" aircraft, but unfortunately this was not to be. The airfield had been closed down when the Government realized it had been built by these keen amateur aviators without any planning permission.
Paul did, however, play his first round of golf in 6 months, despite not having any of the proper attire. Gustavo kitted him out from clothes to clubs, and despite Paul's apprehension about fitting into trousers 2 sizes smaller than he usually wears, he went along. It wasn't Paul's best day for golf - he lost 4 balls and spent 90% of his time in the rough! But in true golfer's style he remembers the one hole he parred.


This is where Gustavo was born and contains just 3 shops, 2 bars, a square and streets too narrow to drive a car down. Here we spent 7 days sunning oursleves on the roof terrace, playing "Scopa" (a Neopolitan card game), and visiting Tonya's relations in a non-stop eating and drinking binge. Everyone here grows their own olives, and makes their own salami and wines. It would have been rude of us not to try every one!

In a village this size eating and drinking are major social activities; the scale of which we became aware of when Concetta, invited us for a picnic ... Whoever heard of a picnic comprising: baked pasta, roast chicken, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, hot green beans, salad, quiche, apple pie, fresh fruit, coffee and tea!? We thought a picnic was just a sandwich and a scotch egg!

One afternoon we decided to take a 5 minute walk to visit Tonya's cousin, Margherita. She and her boygriend were just heading out so we went along for the ride. What started out as a 5 minute walk ended up as a very pleasant stroll along the seafront in Gaeta, a meal out, and us getting home after midnight.


We took a train south to Naples and decieded to walk to the National Archeological Museum - where most of the interesting pieces from Pompei are on display. We got a map from Tourist Information and set out into the filth that is Naples. The map was useless - it had no scale marked, and 2/3rds of the streets on it were not named. We walked a little way - past Senegalese traders selling plastic Luis Vitton bags, and battery powered yapping dogs, past junkies crouching in doorways, past rows of industrial garbage bins that hadn't been emptied in months, past mangey dogs scrounging a meal from the garbage that had spewed onto the streets, past shops selling flick knives and 15 inch Gurkha knives. At this point we decided that we were not THAT interested in archeological finds. We turned about and took a train to Gragnano - the nearest station to Agerola Youth Hostel.


Arriving in Gragnano was like arriving in San Vittore... 100 years ago - there was nothing there! No one at the station to ask directions from, not even a ticket office, nor a timetable on the wall.

We followed the road away from the station and luckily found a bar which sold bus tickets. Thank God Tonya can speak enough Italian to ask about times etc.
We waited an hour at the fountain, as instructed by the barman, and, sure enough, the bus arrived. We had absolutely no idea where we were going. The bus honked its way around tortuous bends and blind corner after corner. The road was just wide enough for the bus to pass. God forbid we should meet an oncoming vehicle on one of these bends. We were both busy looking out of the window for anything resembling a youth hostel. Paul was ready to throw up and we were both hoping we would "arrive" soon. Then we got stuck...

The bus honked and ploughed around the bend to find a digger, a deep trench full with 6 construction workers, and no space for the bus to pass. We waited and waited; the digger threw earth into the trench; and the six men stamped furiously on the earth. This continued until the trench had been filled. Then the digger was driven out of our way and we were set to go. Except... just as our bus driver put his foot on the gas a van came tearing around the bend towards us and blocked our path. I guess the driver was from Naples - becuase after a heated yelling match between him and our driver, accompanied by wild flaying arm movements, remeniscent of a man in the electric chair, he finally realized he was smaller than the bus, and reversed out of our way.

Our driver spent the rest of the journey cursing loudly about the van driver. We were sure this ranting must have been distracting him from his driving and we sat nervously in our seats praying that the next bend would bring the youth hostel into view. It ended up being a good hours journey - right to the end of the line.


At Agerola YH we met up with two Kiwis, Jackie and Delia, and hitched a lift with them to Sorrento. From Sorrento we took the hydrofoil across to the island of Capri. Capri is extremely pretty but is full of middle-aged English couples browsing the windows of designer clothing boutiques - looking at clothes they would never buy, since they clearly do all their shopping at Marks & Spenser!

From Sorrento we also went up to the crater of Mount Vesuvio. We met up with a middle aged couple from Manchester (tourists typical of this area) and took the bus up Vesuvio with them. Paul and the old guy headed off up to the crater while Tonya walked up with the woman - praying she wouldn't have a heart attack on route. Tonya didn't want to be trying out her CPR skills up here, and it would take at least an hour for an ambulance to get up the winding road to this point.

The guided tour of the crater was interesting, especially learning that:
- the volcano is 30 years overdue for an erruption;
- it is likely to wipe out the 3 million people living in Naples and the surrounding area;
- there is no evacuation plan!
Geologists think they will have 15 days warning of an erruption, but since noone wants to be responsible for a false alarm it is likely that several of these 15 days will be spent in discussion between geologists, volcanologists and local politicians!

Let's get out of here before it goes off!
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