And now for the indolent half of Italy 2013.
This country, you may have noticed on a map, has hundreds of miles of coast, and a person might reasonably expect the existence of lots and lots of seaside hotels and retreats … and a person would be right.
Three years ago, we did a week in a rented home in Massa Lubrense, on the Sorrento Peninsula, south of Naples.
This time we went for a place closer to Rome (and its airport), and more formal — the Grand Hotel Le Rocce in Gaeta, about halfway between Rome and Naples.
It is quite the property. Not a new hotel by any stretch, but a handsome one built into a steep patch descending down to the Mediterranean. It is lit by a benevolent sun and blessed with clean air and clear water; the waves lap at the little stretch of sand 236 steps down the hill, and the steady sound is a lullaby of the first order.
Here is the hotel’s website, translated into English.
I would like to know more about the history of the place, but that apparently will require an interview with someone in management.
It has 56 rooms in five or six buildings. At least a dozen plazas of various sizes are built into the hill. A person could be here for days without walking up or down all the stone staircases. Also, a swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar and lots and lots of comfy chairs, both inside and out.
We were impressed with our view out of the balcony (above).
The geography is such that we cannot hear the two-lane road, perhaps 40 yards up and behind us, nor see any other development or people.
It gives the place very much an isolated feel.
The rooms must have been built decades ago, but the outside furniture seems new and in good repair, and the grounds are in fine shape.
During the long and hot (well, by European standards) summer, the place must do a fine business. August must be madness.
But the place was half empty when we arrived, yesterday, a few weeks ahead of high season here, and for that reason we got a very nice deal. The month of May seems to be a very fine time to visit Italy; the winter is done but the crowds have not yet descended. It also is a good time be to out of the UAE; summer has arrived in the Gulf.
The hotel is actually a few miles short of Gaeta, a coastal city with lots of history as well as a current connection to the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
After Rome, where we often were pushing on, day after tiring day, to see something new, and walking miles and wading through fellow tourists, this is the part of the vacation that is meant to be restful. Or at least serene and scenic.
So far, so good.