In retrospect, today was a very full day. We touched on so many things: historical, culinary, visual. From the beach to a hill top town, from 1st century BC to a local bar playing beach boys. We had one miss and one near disaster (that wasn’t). Everything else was perfect. What a glorious day!
Virgilio Grand Hotel
The Hotel Entrance
The Lounge, the Virgilio Hotel Is Modern
Breakfast was included at Hotel Poseidon. We ate at the hotel and walked the old town of Sperlonga one more time. Ellen said, “I could stay here a month” Sperlonga is a beautiful community, though there might not be enough cultural events for a months stay.
It Was Too Cold To Setup Breakfast Outside
Tropical Pizza, Highly Rated but Slow Food?
A Pictorial Walk Around Sperlonga
Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga
Sperlonga Seen From Tiberius’ Villa
The Path to the Ruins of Tiberius’ Villa, Sperlonga
The hotel concierge strongly advised that we visit Tiberius’ Villa and Grotto, which is a few kilometers south of Sperlonga. I knew tiberius had a villa atop the blue grotto with a stairway down into the grotto, but not about Sperlonga! Back at the hotel, we brought our luggage down and I went out back for the car. It was GONE! It was simply not there! Not here, not around the corner, GONE!
I frantically went back to the hotel desk, “scusi, my car is gone!” “oh, we moved it down stairs. It’s on level –2.” Whew! And it was on level –2.
Walking the Ruins, Sperlonga
Driving to Tiberius’ Villa, meant retracing our drive south about three kilometers. The turn off for parking is not well marked. The first clue the driver has something is coming up is the bus parking to the left you notice just as you drive by a small blue “P” and arrow to the right. Down the road some there are place to turn around. Even knowing where the turn in for parking is, it is easy to drive by. The entrance is quite small. You drive down a short steep road. The road goes straight take a turn to the right and park in a dirt/grass area. We found the last parking space. I thought we might be parked in when we leave.
Raised pools, Tiberius’ Grotto, Sperlonga
Water Once Flowed Through The Pipes (holes)
A Statue Left Outside (hard to access?)
The entrance to the villa from the parking area is not marked at all. From parking you walk 100 meters to an access road. Left takes you back to the main road. Right takes you down to the sea. “Scusi, dov’e la villa di Tiberius? e la?” (pointing to the right). “No e la” (fellow points to the left) That saved us a walk down to the sea and back! Up to the Villa.
Close-up of the Ancient Pipes
Fishing Here Is Still Good!
Small Fish in the Lower Pool
Large Fish in the Upper Pool
Our Single Busload of Tourists
The Ruins a Different Perspective
Ellen, Having a Great Time!
View from Tiberius’ Lair: Sperlonga & Ellen
Description of Tiberius’ Grotto, In Italian Of Course
Instead we found the entrance to a museum. “Dov’e la villa di Tiverius?” It worked once, lt’s see what the museum official says. “e qui”. Cool, in we go. You pay a few euro to tour both the museum which houses incredible status and then tour the grounds of the ruins of what once was Tiberius’ Villa. Tiberius knew how to position his homes. This on is situated on a relatively flat expanse that runs right to the sea. To the left is a grotto. To the right is the Lido that leads to Sperlonga. It’s a moderate walk from here to there. Directly in front of the villa, now ruins, is a rocky seafront. There was a fellow spear fishing on the rocks. The fishing must be pretty good. The grotto pools with their array of huge fish were fenced off.
Some English at the bottom!
Location of Statues in Tiberius’ Grotto
The statues in the museum depict scenes from Homer’s Odysseus. The Slaying of the cyclops is very well sculpted in white marble. It is a huge statue with many parts. Interestingly Tiberius had these statues placed in the grotto. Tiberius himself had living space in the grotto. The museum is small. It houses the statues that were recovered from the cave.
Odyusseus and the Cyclops
Cyclops, Close Up
How The Art Might Have Looked
What is Left Today
It is a short walk to the entrance to Tiberius’ Villa, which is now a series of low walls marking the boundaries of houses and plazas. It is small compared to Pompeii. Then a villa is quite small compared with a town or city. To me the most amazing thing about the villa is the Grotto. There are two man-made pools fronting the grotto. I imagine one was cold water, the other hot. These look to be fed by a freshwater spring. There is evidence of fire in some places inside the cave. It could be caused by Tiberius’ candles or lamps or perhaps by modern teenagers in the 16oo’s lighting bonfires in the caves. Perhaps both are true.
Marble Come To Life
A tour group arrived with us. Tour groups typically move quickly through sites. This one did as well. Here one moment and headed for the exit the next. “Check, got that one”. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to linger in striking places to soak in the history or the beauty of the place (both?). The Grotto faced the perfect sand beach that stretched in an arc for two kilometers. It has access to great rock fishing and fresh water pools. What a wonderful place to relax. I must admit I know very little of Tiberius. Curiosity will drive me to read more about Italy’s roots. It is clear that someone or some group of some ones really had it in for Tiberius. Everything he has touched was severely trashed. It brings to mind current US politics. Basta! (enough of that)
The skies had darkened as we walked the ruins. A drop or two fell as we left for our car. The promised rains were coming. I drove on to Terracina with Ellen and our GPS units navigating. We planned to eat lunch in Terracina
It was a dark gray, rainy drive to terracina. Learning from Gaeta, this time I drove along the coast. We found nothing of particular interest in a long drive around and back into town. If there was an old town, we didn’t find it. Headed back out of town we passed a very appealing restaurant on our right. Stop, backup, park. “Do you think we can park here?” “Look, they did. We should be ok”
This is About How We Felt About Terracina, Wet and Out Of Focus
We walked into the restaurant. It was packed. Ellen headed for the Toilette while I tried in vain to get someone’s attention. Perhaps ten minutes later, a fellow who looked like the owner walked by. “Scusi, posso mangiare qui?” “No.” Followed by stream of Italian that was unrecognizable to me. I get this often now. We’ve been given menus in Italian later to have them swapped for the English ones when I becomes apparent we have no idea what’s on the menu. It is Easter today. The restaurant had probably been booked for weeks in advance. No wonder nobody even noticed us when we walked in; or when we walked out. Another day without lunch, but that’s OK. We’re headed to Tivoli.
On the Road
Our car needed to be fed too. We could probably have driven through to Tivoli, but a service stop presented itself and we took it. Cars to the left, trucks to the right: ok. Food to the right gas straight ahead; oops. I drove in the out to get back to the food court. It was an extensive food court with fast food (pizza, calzone, beer), made to order pasta dishes, salads and vegetables, trinkets and souvenir sales. We each had a slice of pizza. Ellen’s was vegetable with a crunchy crust. Mine was cheese and peperoni with a soggy crust. The crust is everything. It was a fair lunch, the least memorable thus far.
Free Street Parking!
Trip Advisor Loves B&B Il Giardino
The View Isn’t That Bad Either.
With the alfa fed, we sped off to Tivoli. There was relatively little traffic; we made very good time. Approching Tivoli we switched from the clueless Garmin to the mostly ok Google Maps (again thank you TIM, Palermo!). Still we drove into town, out of town, back into town, then up the correct street without seeing B&B Il Gardino. “Wow, a parking space”, I zipped in and parked. We found the B&B very close by. The sign was prominent if you are walking by, but not so much if driving. It was mid afternoon when we arrived.
We have a Patio and a View over the Valley
Omar came right away when we rang the front bell. He checked us in and showed us our room. It was comfortable and had a view of the valley over the tops of the homes just below.
An Afternoon Walk Tivoli
Tivoli, the historic town of Tivoli, is small and build on a hill side. We walked the upper city.
Tivoli’s Upper Square
The Arch, Tivoli
We Missed the Castle, Tivoli
Tivloi Gardens were open and closing at 7:30. The group of eight ahead of us chose not to enter, it was too expensive. No problem for two @ 8 euro each.
We walked the gardens until we were literally shooed out at 7:20. But I thought they closed at 7:30!
I’m trying WordPress’ album and slideshow feature to see if we like it. Tell us what you think. -ron
The sun was sinking low on the horizon as we walked back toward “home”. We had noticed a bar with an appealing view and stepped in to watch sunset over a drink. We were seated at the “window”. There were no windows, just a low railing and an expansive view. Sunset, Beer, and Limoncello: Heaven.
Waiting for Our Order, Eden 2.0, Tivoli
A Tivoli Sunset from Eden 2.0’s Balcony
Back at the apartment we freshened up and went out for dinner armed with two recommendations for dinner. One for authentic local food, the other with a 10% discount. It was dark by now and we navigated by a tourist map. These maps are next to useless. We managed to find the local food restaurant, but it was closed. Most everything seemed closed on the narrow streets we walked. OK, let’s find the other one. Like streets in Boston, there was no way to know where a street would lead. Some would go straight then zig left. Others connected to the right only. We were lost. We asked directions from two woman who spoke perfect Italian, but no English. Back up the hill and to the left, is what we took away. We went back up the hill, left, then down hill to the river.
I saw a restaurant across the river, but that was not the one recommended. It was il Ciocco, which I remembered as having a great view of the river and waterfall, but not so great food. After dark, there is no view. TIM & ItalPhone to the rescue. Ellen mentioned that they might be closed by now. “Yes, we are open. The kitchen closes at 10. Pronto, Pronto” We arrived at Ristorante Sibilla at 9:20. We were seated right away. Our waiter enjoyed talking with us in English (how hard will it be to learn some Italian?) We had a good time talking with him too. I had a simple classic dish of paste with pecorino cheese and pepper, Ellen had cheese ravioli. My dish was fantastic. The combination of fresh paste, virgin olive oil, some butter, pecorino cheese, and pepper was what Mac&Cheese should be. It was mouthwatering The cheese in Ellen’s ravioli was superb. I very highly recommend Ristorante Sibilla. The house wine was excellent as well.
We found our way home by following the main street uphill to Tivoli’s upper square.