Category Archives: Italy

Italy: Ardea, Anzio and Nettuno

ANZIO

Some years ago we visited Sabaudia, which is found 90 kilometers south of Rome. When we headed back home, we drove the 90 kilometers along the road next to the Mediterranean, in order to see many beautiful small villages and towns.  If you have time, I recommend to take the sea side route instead of the highway.

Anzio city and beach

We remember well Anzio and Nettuno. They are small and beautiful towns close to the sea. The beach of Nettuno is amazing and long.

Nettunon ranta

During World War II, the Allied made a successful landing in Anzio.

Anzio maihinnousu

This event was called The Battle of Anzio.

We wanted to find a house close to Anzio and Nettuno. The area was so beautiful. It offers peaceful country life, long sandy beaches, the Mediterranean and many fabulous Italian restaurants.

Nettuno Baseball Club is a known Italian baseball Club. NBC has won the national tournametns many times. How did baseball come to Italy? With the Allied during World War II.  

Nettuno beach

I sent enquires to many houses in the area. A few were already booked, a few were not what was advertised. But then one house renter contacted me and said they have a house which fulfills our wishes. The house was in Ardea, just 16 kilometers from Anzio.

Kartta Rooma_Ardea_Sabaudia

The house was too big for us. It was otherwise what we were looking for and the price was not too high, so we rented it.

The house was an old stone house. On the 2nd floor was a huge living room, a kitchen, a big bedroom and a bathroom. Outside there was 2 terraces. One of them was huge. We love to sit and watch the stars after the sunset.  From one of the terraces we could see the whole sky. The first floor had a kitchen, 2 terraces, a big living room, a dining room and 2 bedrooms, plus a bathroom. We used mostly the 2nd floor.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 🙂

The house seen from the backyard:

Ardea talo on valtava

The house from the other side:

ardea talo on kaunis

The garden was huge and had hundreds of trees, bushes, plants and flowers.

Ardea 2_kaunis piha

I loved the red flowers in the bushes around the house. Also Cypresses grew around the house and they were almost 10 meters high.

Alfa Romeomme Ardeassa

We were told we can eat the chilis which grew around the outdoor dining area, close to the huge swimming pool. It did not take many minutes for my husband to taste the chilis. He loves chili.

saako näitä syödä

The swimming pool was just amazing. We had never had such a big pool. We could swim or just relax in it. We used the pool a lot. I sure miss this swimming pool and the views around it.

Ardea 2_view at the pool

Italy produces great cars. The most famous must be the Ferrari. We love to drive the Alfa Romeo. But the most cute Italian car must be the Fiat 500, the Cinquecento.

Cinquecento pihallaYou can drive in any small Italian village with this car. And always find a parking space. For the Finnish winter it might though not be the best choice.

fiat 500_2

 

Italy: Priverno-Fossanova, Rome and Villa Borghese

FOCACCIA AND ESPRESSO

We love focaccia. It is an italian bread, usually baked with olive oil, herbs and different spices. Some also use sun dried tomatoes in their focaccia. I love all kinds of focaccia. Especially the ones with olive oil and rosemary.

You can enjoy an excellent breakfast or lunch with focaccia, tomatoes, olive oil and a little bit of prosciutto. If you are really hungry, add mozzarella to this dish. Then, enjoy an espresso, or a double espresso. What a great start to a new day!

Focaccia


THURSDAY MARKET IN SABAUDIA

We spent one vacation in Sabaudia, which is found 90 kilometers south from Rome, by the sea. What a great place! On Thursdays the people of Sabaudia organized a market. And what a market it was. Near the corner of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, one could find almost 100 different vendors selling fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, pants, shirts, skirts, hats, shoes and almost anything one can think of.

As we do not have such markets in Finland, it was quite a neat experience to stroll through the market and make some small purchases.

torikala

italian high heels


PRIVERNO-FOSSANOVA

We wanted to visit Rome. So we bought train tickets from the Sabaudia tourist office. I was surprised how little the tickets cost. Just around 10€ per person. They included a 1 hour train ride to Rome and back, as well as bus and metro tickets.

We made a test drive to Priverno-Fossanova train station, so we would know how early to drive there the next morning. We had no idea if there was a rush hour at 7 AM or not. The town of Priverno situates about 20 kilometers from Sabaudia. It was fun to drive inland as we had only so far seen the town of Sabaudia and the beautiful beach and the Mediterranean sea.

Sabaudia beach from the mountain

We found the train station easily.

Priverno F junaasema
I checked the timetables to be sure of which trains actually stop at this small train station. We decided to try the 8 AM train. Then we strolled around the area and took some photos of the scenery. In the east we saw green hills and beautiful mountains.

Priverno F junaasema_2
The sky was blue and the sun warmed our skin. A great day was starting. We drove back to the house, got our swimsuits and towels and headed for the great Sabaudia beach (which is more than 20 kilometers long).

The next morning was my husband’s birthday. I had promised to take him to Rome. It was a fun train ride. The scenery changed during the 1 hour trip from green hills to mountains, and from small cities to historical sites and the beautiful city of Rome.

Italian juna


A FABULOUS TAXI DRIVER

We had decided to make some trips by taxi, as the day was unusually hot and it was my husband’s birthday. The taxis do not cost much. I was surprised it cost only 8€ to Colosseum and the same to Villa Borghese. Recommend this if you like air conditioning. You still have plenty of possibilities to walk and view the scenery.

THE COLOSSEUM

Colosseum_1
Our taxi driver was fabulous. He drove very well and he told us about Rome the whole way to the Colosseum, which was our first stop.

JH Rooma Colosseum

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (Altare della Patria) is an amazing monument which was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885.

Vittorio Emanuele II

After checking out the Colosseum we decided to have an espresso. We chose a cafeteria right next to the Colosseum. It was fun to sit on the terrace and experience the hectic life of Rome and the thousands of tourists from all over the world. The cafeteria was on a great place and therefore the prices were high. We paid almost 5€ for the same espresso that cost 1€ in Sabaudia and 60 cents in Sicily. When in Rome… 😉

Piazza Venezia Rooma
We took a taxi from the cafeteria to Villa Borghese. We drove through Piazza Venezia towards the north.

This taxi driver was friendly too and told us a little bit about the things we saw during our short drive to Via Veneto.


VILLA BORGHESE

map of villa borghese
We strolled in the park. It was a hot day. But the huge trees gave us shadow when we needed it. I wanted to see the Borghese Gallery and Museum. What a fantastic building with some fabulous art.

Villa Borghese in Rome

Villa B_1

Villa B_3

More about the Borghese Gallery and Museum can be found here. The collection was started by cardinal Scipione Borghese (nephew to Pope Paul V, whose original name was Camillo Borghese) in the 17th century. 

Walking around the park made us hungry, so we looked around for a cafeteria. With a prosciutto-mozzarella-tomato sandwich and a large cold orange juice we sat outside enjoying the sunny weather. After an espresso it was time to walk down Via Veneto and check out the expensive boutiques and restaurants. We walked all the way to the train station. The streets around it are very hectic and full of small shops, cafeterias and pizzerias.

Rooman junaaseman vieressä

We said farewell to Rome and took the train back to Priverno-Fossanova. After a great day in Rome it was nice to open a bottle of white wine, cook a delicious dinner at the house and sit in the backyard relaxing and talking about everything we had seen in Rome.

valkoviini

Our friend, a blackbird, was not shy. It searched for something good to eat and found this and that from our backyard.

mustarastas

Italy: Trevignano Romano and Bracciano

A HOUSE BY THE LAKE

A few years ago we thought about renting a house in Cyprus. Or in Malta. But the flight choices from Helsinki were not the best possible. No direct flights to Malta anymore.  Cyprus had some interesting houses for rent, but at the end we could not find one within our budget, and fulfilling our wish list. So we turned to fabulous Italy – again. Great choice!

This time we chose to visit an area north of Rome, as we had so far visited areas south of Rome.

Italy is full of great people, the language is beautiful and interesting to learn, the food and wine culture is fabulous and the scenery is awesome, wherever you go.

As earlier, we found it hard to find a house with air conditioning. The summers in Italy are hot. I was about to give up, trying to find a nice house 1 hour north from Rome, with AC. Then I got a reply to one of my queries. A man in Trevignano Romano said his family has a vacation house for rent. The owner promised that the house reflected our wish list.  He promised there is ACin the house.

So we made a deal. We chose a house by a lake, instead of the Mediterranean sea, as always before. And what a view we had from the house down to lake Bracciano.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 🙂

view from the T R house

While you wait to travel, read travel blogs and books of the country and the area, which you will visit. Check out the web pages of the city you will stay in. Then you know in advance of events during your vacation, find tips on great restaurants and museums, etc.

Trevignano_view from the house 2


TREVIGNANO ROMANO

This was the second time we chose a house, by chance,  in a city where the Italian themselves like to stay during the weekend and the holidays. 3500 – 5000 people live in Trevignano Romano.  It depends on who you ask. Many come there just for the weekend. Those who live there, work in Rome or are working from home.

The beautiful Trevignano Romano is situated by Lago di Bracciano, lake Bracciano, less than 50 kilometers north from Rome.

The highway A12 takes you from the international Fiumicino airport to Cerveteri, where you turn inland. From Cerveteri it took maybe 15 minutes to Bracciano, a small town by the lake Bracciano.

Cerveteri Bracciano map


BRACCIANO

The old town of Bracciano is small but very beautiful. On Piazza Mazzini you find the old castle Castello Orsini-Odescalchi.

bracciano castle wedding

You can rent the castle nowadays. One couple who did this was Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, when they were looking for a fabulous place for their wedding.

Tom and Katie wedding

From Bracciano we moved on along the SP4a towards Trevignano Romano. On both sides of the road a thick green forest surrounded the road. Every now and then we saw a glimpse of the lake. We also saw some amazing houses right by the lake. I wonder how much they cost. Our vacation house was close to the lake, but not 10 meters from it, like these houses.

T R beach houses

In ten minutes we arrived in Trevignano Romano. I must say I have seldom seen anything so beautiful.

Trevignano Romano

In the middle of the main street we turned left. The street got smaller and smaller. It was fascinating to see such old roads, with houses so close you could almost touch them through the car window.

Trevignano town 1

Putting on the first gear our small Alfa Romeo made it to the top of the hill. The view from Monticello hill was unbelievable and breathtaking.

T R view from the house to the lake

view of the b lake

Even though we check and recheck certain things, Italians tend to surprise us every now and then.

The very polite house owner showed us around the house and the garden. Everything looked great and perfect.

Trev house_JH outside

The house was bigger than we thought and needed, but it is hard to find small houses.

The garden was huge and had trees, bushes and plants everywhere.

T R house backyard flowers

The swimming pool was located a the south corner of the garden. It was a great spot. On your east side you have the amazing Parco Naturale Regionale di Bracciano and on your south side you can see all the way to Rome on a sunny day. The house had a small terrace and a bigger one. The view from the bigger terrace was just beautiful.

T R view from the upper terrace

When we asked about the AC,  the owner looked a bit sly. When I reminded him of the importance of AC to us, he started to talk about global warming etc. He also said it would not be too hot, so we would not need AC. We said we do need it. The temperature was already surprisingly high, around 34° C. Early June this is hot, even in Italy.

Finally the owner said there was an AC in the house. But, it was in the dining room. It had not been used for years. He said he would go and get the remote control and check if the AC works. When he came back and turned on the AC, a terrible noise filled the house.

As our Italian house renter did not know what to do, and as my husband is quite smart with technical apparel, my husband said he can have a look. And smart as he is, he repaired the AC with the things available. The AC started working, without smoke and noise,  but at the lowest level. We were surprised that the owner had not checked and fixed the AC, as it is mentioned in the ad and as we had especially asked for it. We also had to pay extra for the AC.

It got so hot the next week that the house owner drove north with his family as it was too hot for them in Trevignano! And still he said no AC is needed in the house … This was hilarious. 😉

But the house was nice, the garden was huge, we had a swimming pool (2 meters from the natural park) and the location was fabulous. So we had a terrific 2 weeks in Trevignano Romano.

pool next to the natural park in T R

Italy: Etna, Catania and Syracuse

HELSINKI – ROME – CATANIA

In 2004 my husband and I decided to enjoy an adventure. We wanted to see something interesting in Europe, not too far from Finland and where it would be around 20 C (68 F) during the day. We chose to make a trip to Sicily, Italy.

We decided to visit the area around Syracuse and the small towns further south. Most people visit Palermo and the beaches north of Catania (Taormina and Naxos) – later in the summer time.

Unfortunately there were no direct flights to Sicily, so we had to fly to Rome, then take a connecting flight to Catania.

What an experience it is to see the Rome International Airport for the first time!

We had only 1 hour between our flights. I give you a hint – reserve at least 2 hours between connecting flights. Your day will be less stressful.

fiumicino airport

MOUNT ETNA

The flight from Rome to Catania, an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, was short. The view from the plane was awesome. The Mediterranean Sea is for sure one of the most beautiful seas, especially when the sun makes the water glitter.

When I saw Mount Etna, the active stratovolcano of Sicily, I found my disposable camera (back then that was normal…) and took some pictures. It was an amazing moment.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity.

Etna lentokoneesta katsottuna

CATANIA

We did not visit Catania this time. It is the second largest city in Sicily. If you like a hectic lifestyle and chaotic traffic, visit Catania. The nightlife is well known and you will find plenty of bars to choose from.

The city is known for its seismic history, having been destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 1169, another in 1693, and several volcanic eruptions from the neighbouring Mount Etna volcano.

Catania city and Etna
SYRACUSE

It is about 70 kilometers from Catania to Syracuse. We had chosen Hotel Helios. Helios was OK but not as great as advertised. Back in 2004 our budget was small, otherwise I would have chosen another hotel.

Hotel H and me

If you visit Syracuse you might want to stay at Mercure Siracusa Prometeo or at Jolly Hotel Aretusa. These are in the center of the city. Best choice might though be to book a room at Grand Hotel Ortigia, which is in the old town (called Isola Ortigia). Also Hotel Roma is a great choice.

In Syracuse, population 125.000, the cultural history is mixed with Italian city life. But just a short drive away you can enjoy the small and beautiful beaches, rocky shores and the fabulous countryside.

Pachino Sicily_2

PIAZZA ARCHIMEDE

An evening in the old town of Syracuse (called Ortigia) will fill you with great memories. Just before sunset we took a taxi to the old town and searched for Trattoria Archimede, which our hotel clerk had recommended. We had asked where do the Italians eat dinner. Sicilia in Tavola is another great restaurant offering great traditional food.

We arrived a bit early. Italians eat later, after 8 pm. We are hungry before 7 pm. We decided to hang out at Piazza Archimede for an hour. Great decision. The piazza is beautiful. And quite old. It was opened in 1878.

Piazza Archimede Syracuse

While sipping a cold drink at the terrace of a nice bar,  Banco di Sicilia and the other old buidings around you whisper stories of ancient Sicilian times and lifestyle.

I can warmly recommend to visit Sicily. There is so much to see as well as to taste!