Another Italy Trip, you say? Yes, of course! I've
discovered that I'm the type of traveller who very much enjoys "fleshing out" locales that
I've already visited. Visiting a place once or twice is not enough for
full, deep exploration. The familiarity that comes with re-visiting a foreign
locale more than once allows you to explore "off-the-beaten-path" and
find hidden gems or unusual attractions.
My motivations for returning to Italy weren't confined solely to sightseeing: I always enjoy visiting my relatives in Avellino, and this trip was another chance for just such a visit. This was Jenn's first visit to Italy (I was honored and delighted to show her around). Nicely topping things off was a nice week-and-a-half of dolomites ferrata climbing.
I wanted to co-ordinate my trip such that our vacation and my Mom's yearly Italian trip overlapped. It is fantastic to be able to share in a bit of my mother's "Italian-life", if I can call it that (besides, I have a feeling mom quite likes showing us around). In fitting in with my Mom's trip schedule, we set the start date for our trip to be about a week before my mother returned to Canada, allowing us to be in Avellino with her for four or five days.
Swiss International Airlines
Acknowledging the fact that Ottawa International Airport doesn't really have very good intercontinental flight connections, we booked flights out of Montreal (which does). Asmir, good friend that he is, agreed to drive us from Ottawa to the Airport in Montreal. Our flight was direct to Zurich, where a rental car and a 1000km drive south to Avellino awaited.
Twilight above Ireland
We flew with Swiss International Airlines aboard a nice shiny new Airbus A330. The flight was reasonably nice - although a red-eye flight combined with a body-cortorting 31" economy-class seat pitch is not exactly a recipe for a good night's sleep. On the plus side, the food was generous and quite good.
Flughafen Zurich (Zurich airport) was a quintessentially german-like place, orderly and efficient. We lucked out with an especially good internet rental car rate that had apparently expired, but for which I had a printed confirmation page. My confirmation page was frowned at several times by the attendants at the rental counter. Ultimately, though, they honored the price (CAN $942 including all taxes for 3.5 weeks, and for a pretty spacious vehicle), and we were off. The drive from Zurich to Avellino is in the vicinity of 1000km - long by European standards, but not so long for us Canucks. The drive from my home in Ottawa, Ontario to my parents' home in Bathurst, NB is longer than that!
Avellino is a medium-sized city not far from the city of Naples in southern Italy. It is where many of my Italian relatives still live, and it is where my Mom visits when she goes back to Italy every year. My Aunt Rosetta once again offered her house as a place for us to stay for the duration of the Avellino portion of our trip. Many thanks, Aunt, for letting us stay (ti ringraziamo moltissimo, cara Zia!!).
The weather was soggy in the Alps, so views were limited. Crossing into Italy, the weather started to break up, and by the time we exited the mountains into the plain of the Po, it was clear and warm. Fortunately, clear and warm was to be a common weather theme for virtually our entire trip! The Italian Autostrada carried us quickly and efficiently southwards, and it was not long before we were used to the Italian highway toll systems. There are two types of toll segments on Italian Autostrade: the fixed-cost connector links, and the distance-based main highways themselves. The fixed-cost links require you to pay in advance, whereas the distance-based segments require you to acquire a ticket at an entry point and submit the ticket for payment at an exit point. If you like avoiding fiddling with coins, use the lanes have an automated credit-card reader - it is fast and relatively painless (once you figure out which way to orient your credit card).
We arrived in Avellino early in the evening. I have a fair grip on the layout of the city (supplemented, of course, by my trusty Garmin Etrex Vista C GPS!), and so it was painless to scoot right up to the gates of my Aunt's house. My Mom was already outside in the warm evening air, presumably waiting for us. She escorted us into the cavernous lower-level common room that was set up for us to use as an apartment.
Mom greets Jenn
Being famished, I treated Jenn to her first bit of Italian culture - the plain-looking but exceedingly tasty corner pizzeria. Just down the block from my Aunt's house is an innocuous little corner pizzeria called 'dannys'. For four Euro dollars, we had the most delicious margherita pizza you could imagine (a margherita pizza is essentially a "plain" pizza) . I'll say what I always say when I talk about delicious pizzas.... Why is it not possible to make a pizza like this in Canada? It is criminal, I tell you!
Festival in Avellino
After having dinner, we returned to my Aunt Rosetta's place as evening set in. Tonight, the city of Avellino was hosting a night festival that it had not hosted in countless years. We decided to take a little impromptu drive and stroll over to the center of festivities. We wandered around amidst the brightly decorated streets and buildings, and past bazaar-type booths selling all manner of trinkets and interesting-looking sweets. What a delightful way to finish off our first full day in Italy - immersed in local culture!
[ Italy 2005 trip
home page |
The main trip report |
Monte Cervialto |
Herculaneum & Vesuvius |
Palace of Caserta |
Amalfi & Capri |
Abruzzo & Monte Amaro |
The Biennale |
Via Ferrata-ing in the dolomites |
Climbing in the Ortles |
Gottfried's Adventures |
Maps, Graphs & GPS Data ]