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During July we really enjoyed our two grandsons’ visit to “Tre Cancelle”,
accompanied by their Mum Vicki and her partner Alex.
Jamie and Tommy are both very bright sparks and growing up so fast, and have done very well this year at school.
They always enjoy their trips to Italy and are picking up a little of the Italian language. They came laden with lots of doggie treats for the “Woof-Gang”.
The boys particularly enjoyed :
Several trips to the wonderful sandy beaches
Tucking in to the local cuisine
Hunting in rock pools for crabs and octupus
Playing in the Park in Itri
The slides and swimming pool at Itri Aquapark
And best of all ……….
Sampling all the ice-creams !!!
Positively Scrumptious !!!
xxxxxxxxxxxxx We miss you !!! xxxxxxxxxxxxx
During July, while our friend Peter from the UK was staying with us Paul was surprised to find out that Itri has a beach !!!
Our Free-Climbing friend, Michael, who is also a keen naturalist and a font of local knowledge, one evening asked if we would like to go for a short gentle walk along the Antica Via Flacca.
The modern Via Flacca runs all along the coast between Terracina and Formia, the stretch between Sperlonga and Gaeta uses a series of tunnels, cut through the rocky cliffs as they fall sharply to the sea. There also existed a coast road back in Roman times, to connect the various beautiful natural secluded beaches, sections of which still exist today.
We parked the car at the end of Sant’Agostino Beach and walked alongside the current Via Flacca into the first tunnel. About 50 metres into the tunnel we passed through a small gate which lead us out onto the start of the Roman roadway. This hugs the side of the cliffs and is still supported on the sea side by sections of Roman wall.
At first the going was quite level and as we reached the open road between the first and second tunnels we could look down to the two Itri beaches which have pebbles and shingle, rather than the more common golden sand, and is where the comune of Itri stretches down to the sea.
Just as the modern roadway disappears into the second tunnel, the ancient pathway rose somewhat more steeply as it followed the contours of the hillside. It seemed that it would be soon become impossible to climb over the next cliff top without doing some rock climbing.
It was on this section of path that Michael, who was leading the way, nearly walked straight into a spider’s web that spanned the complete pathway, and must have been in excess of one metre in diameter. This “guardian of the path” was the most amazing spider we had ever seen, and if anybody can tell us what it is called we would be delighted to find out.
After carefully making our way past the web, and as we came around a bend in the path it become clear that, much to the relief of the two more senior members of the party, that there is a cave through which you can pass easily and thus no climbing would be required to continue onwards. This was indeed a big relief as the promised short walk had already turned out to be a bit of a hike and old legs were getting a tad weary.
As we walked through the cave the sun was setting providing beautiful views.
From here we had to retrace our steps as the ancient pathway had become dangerously eroded in part and although there were certain mutterings and grumblings about the distance we had come, and therefore had to return, by the time we had got back to the car the party unanimously agreed that the trek had been well worthwhile.
La Madonna della Cività,
is the patron of Itri, whose annual feast day falls on July 21st.
Three kilometres inland from Itri passing through the Valle d’Itri, you come to Monte Cività, a place once devoted to the Roman God Mercury. Here, perched on high is the Sanctuary dedicated to “La Madonna della Cività”.
This houses the sacred painting of the Madonna and Child, which is said to have been painted by the St Luke the Evangelist, and to date back to the 8th century when the Byzantine Emperor Leo III ordered religious persecutions and outlawed sacred images. Legend says that this work of art was found by a young mute herdsman who was searching for a missing cow on the mountainside. On discovering the painting in the branches of a holm oak tree, the boy fell to his knees and prayed, and miraculously was able to hear and speak for the first time in his life. He went back to the town of Itri to tell people what had happened and the townsfolk were amazed to witness that the boy could now communicate.
So, in July people from all over South Lazio come to make a sacred pilgrimage on foot to the Sanctuary. Up here the mountain air is clean and fresh, and on a clear day the panoramic vistas are simply breathtaking. In one direction, there are views of dramatic mountain scenery, in another a splendid view of the Gulf of Gaeta, Ischia and the Pontine Islands, and finally the panoramic coastline sweeping round and culminating in the rocky promontory of San Felice Circeo.
In Itri itself, there are 3 days of local festivities, which include various religious processions. This was the first year that we have been able to witness the proceedings for ourselves.
The silver statue of the Madonna and Child, both bearing golden crowns adorned with precious stones, normally resides in a secure glass side chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. During the feast days this is transported on a golden throne throughout the streets of the town. Periodically the procession paused when suddenly there was a continuous five minute barrage of reverberating fireworks, in the form of huge rockets which soared into the sky emitting sparks, smoke and thunderous explosions and showers of paper confetti which rained down onto the streets below.
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In December we decided to celebrate Louise’s birthday at Vic’s American Bar on the waterfront overlooking the magnificent Gulf of Gaeta. This watering hole is regularly frequented by off duty sailors serving at the Gaeta Nato Base / Home Port of the 6th Fleet Flagship USS Mount Whitney.
It is an American style bar run by Italians and serves typical American fayre such as hamburgers and fries as well as Italian dishes.
Here we met up with our English student Raffaele and his American girlfriend Nicole from California, plus our dear friend Doctor Pasquale.
In September we welcomed our youngest guests to-date, 2 year old Tom and 5 month old Ben, of course accompanied by their mummy and daddy !!! They were a lovely young family, who had come to coastal South Lazio to meet up with family who had been sailing their yacht around Italy and Sardinia during the summer months.
Maggie and Ian plotted their approach into Anzio, through a channel, marked on their chart as being clear, however, the channel had become silted up over time as the local authorities had not been diligent in dredging it. With quite a swell behind them the boat soon ran aground, and became firmly stuck. Eventually it had to be towed off and lead into safe harbour at Anzio, however the vessel had taken quite a battering, and the steel wire rigging, holding up the 50ft mast had snapped.
After being in dock for a couple of days for some urgent repairs, they decided to motor down the coast to Gaeta, to finally meet up with the rest of the family. Meanwhile a chandlery in Anzio was appointed to make them some replacement rigging.
The reunited family spent a couple of nights here at “Tre Cancelle”, which gave us the opportunity to get to know them all. Maggie and Ian kindly invited us to go and have a look at their boat, which was named “Just Tinkerbell”.
The day for our arranged visit, the Anzio chandlers arrived with the new rigging. Ian was keen to get it fitted, and elected to do this major task himself, climbing up and down the mast using just a climbing harness. Despite all his arduous work, it soon became evident that the chandlery had made the rigging too long, so it all had to be taken down again, and the chandlers returned once more, saying that they would have to take the rigging away again to adjust it.
This was the first time I have ever been on such a boat, and I was surprised to find that below decks it was very beautifully and comfortably fitted out, with a saloon/dining area, galley, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
We really enjoyed all the family’s warm company and will always remember our special visit aboard “Just Tinkerbell”.
Although we were so very busy during July and August, we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know so many of our friendly guests. Some evenings we organised BBQ’s or Pizza/Wine Tasting evenings which went down very well, even if there were sometimes a few sore heads on the mornings after.
We are planning to have our own wood-fired Pizza Oven built by next year, so that guests can have a go at making and cooking their own pizzas. Should be fun !!!
We were particularly gratified that all our guests seemed to enjoy their stay here at “Tre Cancelle” and enjoyed exploring the local area. We very much look forward to keeping in contact and continuing many of these new found friendships.
The numerous local beaches, although somewhat busy in the peak season, were still very popular with families, offering plenty of golden sunshine, sandy beaches and crystal clear, temperate waters. All our British guests commented on how good it was to get away from the rain and gloom of the UK’s disappointing summer.
Also, interestingly, Itri’s Aqua Park outdoor swimming centre also proved to be a special attraction for families, with its large pool surrounded by a sun terrace with beds and parasols to hire. The pool slopes from shallow to deep with diving boards. At the shallower end offers there are slides for the younger children and 3 water flumes (with speeds ranging from slow, medium and fast). It is said that there are “Views are to die for” and the restaurant serves light lunches and tasty afternoon snacks. Also the terrace on the lower level below the pool has attractive covered picnic areas and also a children’s play area.
* photo by The Punch Pizza