On Saturday we drove south to Syracuse, the ancient Greek capital, and it was well worth the diesel. 

2 route 1

3 route 2

The old town, which has survived earthquakes and the second world war bombing raids, was a delightful mix of attractive sea defences, fabulous architecture and interesting little streets. 

5 Syracuse 1

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7 Syracuse 4

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8 Syracuse 5

We enjoyed watching a foolish young man trying to drown his moped in a puddle.

1a

We followed the sound of accordion music to find a jolly old lady (I think) celebrating her birthday with balloons and handing out cake in the street. 

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It is obviously de rigeure to have your wedding photos shot against the Archimedes  fountain,

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14 Syracuse 11

but we were a little sad that the Archimedes museum was long gone; all that was left were the very dusty windows of an empty shop, despite what the local signage implied.

A couple of things amused me:

Gas transporter?

Gas transporter?

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Giraf and Cactus?????

Giraffe and Cactus?????

10 Obey syracuse

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One that got away, a little homage to Terry Pratchett. Sigh...

One that got away, a little homage to Terry Pratchett. Sigh…

There was a kind of irony in that the views we had of Etna on the way back were way better than we had had the day before,but the top was still shrouded in cloud.  Oh well, we’ll just have to come back in sensible weather…..

22 Etna view

The magic weather box said the weather was about to get a lot worse in Sicily so we decided to head north, heading for an ACSI campsite that was meant to be open all year round near Corigliano Calabro, on the west side of Italy’s ‘toe’.  

22a route to mesina

The journey was lovely, apart from the odd Italian driver creaming past us at about double the speed limit.  (It must have been a bit bad, because Tim started saying things like’ At least most Tunisians seem to obey the speed limit’) (that may be mainly due to the height of the speed humps and the weapons the police carry….).

Getting to mainland Italy via the ferry in Messina was a piece of cake.  We drove into the port, bought a ticket, drove onto the ferry and were away within 10 minutes, and that was on a Sunday.  We were about the last vehicle onto the boat!

23 Ferry to mainland

It did seem quite expensive for such a short trip- nearly €40 for about 5km.

The motorway was excellent

25 route north

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and we got to our destination by about 3 30, but the signs said that the campsite would not open its gates until 4.  We waited and waited and nothing happened.  Nobody answered the buzzer, the phone gave a fax buzz and in the end we gave up.  Luckily there was a campsite just up the road that was open.  Yeh!  Unfortunately, being Sunday, the reception, and hence the front gate, were closed (from noon, how daft is that?).  We waited around like lemons for a bit until a lovely German couple came to our aid and tracked down a groundsman who opened the gate by putting his tractor in front of the inside sensor.

We found ourselves a place to camp, got the Tentipi up and were really touched as the nice Dutch lady from the next door caravan arrived with a pot of tea for us.  

34 Nice Dutch couple

We cooked some supper and went into the bar to shelter from the cold, where there was a party going on.  It looked like the large contingent of German ladies were having fun, singing and dancing and we were given cake!

24 Guitar lady

The next day, we waited for the rain to stop and then battled against the wind to have a little stroll along the beach.  

30 Beach

We decided that this Monday could be an official ‘lost Sunday’ (a delightful concept, introduced to us by our good friends Pat and Dave)(minus the Flanders and Swan), so we decided to spend the rest of the day drinking beer and wine and eating (probably) too much.  As the evening got colder we were sad to note that the bar was not going to open, so we had to huddle down in the tent with hats, gloves, blankets etc.  It was a shame that there was not a lot going on around there because this campsite was probably one of the most friendly places we have ever stayed. 

31 Cute doggy

It is full of jolly German and (some) Dutch ex-pats trying to grab some winter sun (not a lot of that so far!).  I loved this lady and her van. 

32 Jolly German lady

As we were packing to leave, the nice Dutch lady asked me if we minded her hanging out her washing.  ‘No problems’ I said and she giggled away while hanging out….

33 knickers

She then said at least they are clean.  As we left the campsite she ran out with a bag of oranges for us.

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