BUONGIORNO! Hello my dear friends. I just returned from a magnificent 3-week vacation/book signing/wine guzzling voyage to Italy, and although I loved every minuto, there is no place like home. As for Italy, mama mia, what a beautiful country! Our group of merry pranksters sailed from Rome to Malta, and then circled Sicily, stopping in some very memorable ports. And speaking of port, the wine was truly memorable, too. From what I remember, we drank almost every night. (Hey, you know what they say, “when in Rome… “)
Before I go on about our voyage, let me state, unequivocally, that I had NOTHING to do with England leaving the European Union. Well, almost nothing. I did make a few remarks about Germany and Italy dominating the ongoing soccer tournament. But that was all I did.
We began our long voyage in Rome, which was fitting. Why? Because when I was a young lad, the girls told me that I had “Roman hands.” (and “Russian fingers,” I might add!) In any case, after we left Rome (and 3 days of intense archaeological activity) we sailed south through the Straight of Messina, which wasn’t really that strait, but still quite fascinating. Our first stop was in Catania, where we spent the day high up in the mountain village of Taormina… and trekked around the base of our first volcano… Mt. Aetna. (Which, by the way, is still a very active volcano.) I didn’t really want to hike up to the summit, but I had to “go with the flow,” so to speak. When you live under a volcano, every day is “ash wednesday.” Very hard to breathe in certain spots, but well worth the effort. The view was simply incredible. (for at least 30 seconds!)
On days two and three, we recovered on the islands of Malta and Gozo, which were quite interesting. I got to use all of my bad jokes about Maltese falcons and malted meal, which the locals seemed to have heard before. (What’s up with that?) Most importantly, on the lovely island of Gozo (slightly north of Malta) our group got to visit the oldest known human settlement in history. (A 6,000-year-old pagan temple.) I was surprised to learn that it was a pagan temple. How the heck did a motorcycle gang cross the Mediterranean Sea? Beats me.
From Gozo, we sailed north to Sicily and made several stops in some pretty amazing ports… Agrigento, Trapini, and Lipari for starters. They were all incredibly interesting, and on the remote island of Lipari, we hired a boat and made our way to the still-smoldering island of Vulcano. (Yep, this volcano was belching, too!) During our morning hike (which I called our “death march”) we stopped for lunch at a bubbling lake of warm mud, and some of us took a mud bath. I, of course, suggested that the female archaeologists in our group engage in a mud wrestling contest, but the ladies wouldn’t bite. (See what happens when you get a Ph.D?)
The voyage of the (nearly) damned then continued eastward, arriving in the enchanting town of Sorrento, where some of our group traveled to Pompeii and others to Herculaneum . Risking life and limb, I spent the day viewing our third major volcano, Mount Vesuvius. (Yeah, you guessed it, this one is still an active volcano, too.) By now you might be wondering what’s wrong with me. Good question. Would you believe I was doing some research for my next book? I hope so, because that’s what I intend to tell the IRS. (Actually, it’s true, but I’ll explain later.)
The third week of our delightful voyage was spent on shore, in the impossibly beautiful town of Positano, along the Amalfi Coast. Here I learned (once again) that anchovies and cappuccino don’t mix very well. (Especially after a day of diving and swimming!) Nonetheless, we all had a magnificent time with our gracious hosts at Villa Franco. If you look at a photograph of Positano, you will see a lovely white villa on the highest point of the mountain overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. This is where we spent the week, and dear God, was it something special. (Photographs to follow!)
As always, the best part of any trip is making new friends, and we made plenty of them during this adventure. (Starting with the captain of our ship, Captain Sverre, (a modern-day Viking!) and including some lovely folks from Australia, England, Italy, Argentina, and the good old U.S.A.) On the book front, we gained a hundred new blog followers, and more importantly, a hundred new friends around the world. (I held two book signings, and our sales were phenomenal.)
Well, I hope I didn’t bore you with all the travel talk. I also have some great news on the publishing front, but I think I’ll save it for next Sunday’s blog. Like me, you might be on sensory overload, so I’ll share the good news next weekend. Until then, take care and have a great week.
Love to all,
*** Hopefully there will be some photographs attached to this blog. The nude shots were confiscated by Interpol. (Thank God.)