Honeymooners on Board - now thats a first.

170919 1 Ben and Renae farewelling Katherine Scarlino

Arriving back into Rome on the 9th of September we were joined by Ben and Renee Ballantine. Ben is Lee's nephew and around a year ago, when it became obvious we could not return to Australia for his wedding we floated the idea of them joining us onboard Katherine. Their original honeymoon plan was to take a cruise ship from Sydney to New Zealand - given the choice - they chose venturing overseas for the first time and cruising on Katherine in Italy - we were very excited to have them onboard.

170910 1 Rolling waves to the entrance of Rome Harbour

Two days prior to us returning from the Red Sea diving trip, Ben and Renee arrived into Rome and spent their time sightseeing Rome, Pompeii and Naples before arriving at the marina in Ostia. 

170910 5 Xana onboard Katherine with Lee

The weather to say the least was rather foul on their arrival and the entrance to the Rome Touristico Marina had easily 1+ meter waves rolling in. Good for surfing but certainly not safe for exiting the marina. So the planned sail for Sunday was tossed out the window introducing Ben and Renae instantly to the flexibility required to live the life of cruising. The initial intention had been to sail on Sunday north to Elba, cruise the island then head to Scarlino from where we would do a road trip returning them to Rome some ten days later. Lets just say the plan definitely did not go to plan, but in its diversity the whole trip just got better. 

So Sunday was spent in the marina in Ostia with intermittent rain that was wreaking havoc on Rome city. With our delay came the opportunity for friend's from Darwin, Xana and Father Roy, to visit Katherine for dinner. Ummm again that was the plan. Now that rain which did not impact upon the enjoyment of the meal cooked by Andrew saw us trying to organise a taxi for their return to no avail - our guests onboard suddenly increased overnight to four.

Hotel Della Fortezza inside the Fortress of Orsini Sorano

170911 16 Day 1 Road Trip Ben and Truck Sorano170911 10 Day 1 Road Trip Walking the streets of Sorano

170912 9 Day 2 Road Trip Parc

With Xana and Father Roy safely on route back to Rome in the early hours of Monday morning we too turned our plans around and began a road trip. First intended stop was the village of Pitgliano where we had been earlier in June. Unfortunately, or be that fortunately, our reservation change had not been received so that on our arrival we were advised no accommodation - but we do have availability in the town of Sorano in a Fortress. Not wanting to argue for fear of no where to sleep we continued onto Sorano and checked into Hotel Della Fortrezza. The Hotel is situated in the inner courtyard of the Fortress Orsini that dates back to the 1300’s. Perched on the hill overlooking the township the Fortress was for many centuries the stronghold of protection for the township. We enjoyed a walk around the maze of cobblestone twisting and often steep streets and took in the view of the valley below from the Masso Leopoldino. 

An added bonus to our accommodation came the following morning when we were served a sumptuous breakfast of local produce and given a tour of the chambers beneath the Fortress, which really did instill an appreciation of the military architecture that had gone into the building of the Fortress. Certainly if you were an unwanted guest you were in trouble. 

A morning walk around the nearby Area Archeological di Vitozza, where over 200 caves or troglodyte dwellings remain from the 12th to the 17th century worked up our appetites for lunch in the neighbouring town of Sovana at the restaurant Eehgia Bistro.  The pasta with boar ragu still some of the best we have tasted in Italy to date.

170912 15 Day 2 Road Trip Ceiling of our accommodation Montepulciano

The Ceiling Fresco of Ben and Renae's room at B&B called L’Agnolo Di Caroti Cinzia

170913 3 Day 3 Road Trip  Montepulciano

Next evening stop - Montipulciano via one or two rather minor roads that had us appreciating vineyards where the grapes were bulging from their vines in anticipation of being picked. In Montipulciano we stayed in the lower village in a B&B called L’Agnolo Di Caroti Cinzia. A beautiful accommodation with frescos on the ceiling dating back to the 1500’s. A feature Renee found a little disconcerting in the middle of the night - she was certain the eyes on the ceiling were following her. 

Teatro Dei Vigilanti

170915 2 Porto Azure Isle Elba Renae and Ben in control

Back onboard Katherine it was a long sail to Puerto Azzuro on the Isle of Elba where Ben and Renee got to experience the fun of anchoraging and driving of the tender, along with the odd Italian gelato. From Puerto Azzuro we moved onto an anchorage in Portoferraio. Here we walked again the streets but this time visited the fortress museum Fortezze Medice and the Teatro Dei Vigilanti a building that was once a church that Napoleon transformed into a Theatre in 1814. 

170919 11 Pitgliano Restaurant for dinner old winery Ben Renae and Andrew

From Portoferraio it was back to Scarlino where we left the boat to do the originally planned road trip back to Rome. First night was in Pitgliano stopping first for lunch in the town of Grosseto where we discovered a small cafe serving tasting plates of local produce, of course complemented by a local vermentino. In Pitgliano we were happy to be be welcomed and advised our accommodation at Casa Degli Architecture was ready and waiting.  A new restaurant was discovered in the depths of an old wine cellar cave and the lights of the city were just as spectacular as we remembered. 

Walking the streets of Pitgliano back to our accommodation 

170920 14 Lunch Stop Tuscania Saint Maria Maggiore170919 7 Pitgliano Accommodation Casa Del Arch 4 of us

Our last day together was spent travelling to Rome Airport but we were certainly in no hurry. We toured via the town of Tuscania an unexpected gem of a town situated in the region of Lazio and less than two hours from the Airport. The town has a history dating back some 2500 years and is strewn with Etruscans statues and roman ruins. St Peters Church stands imposingly across a field from the town and just down the road is the  Church of Santa Maria Maggiore which is first mentioned in papal records dated 852. Among the pulpits are frescos dating back to the 13th and 14th Century. 

So after finding another great little restaurant in Tuscania for lunch the reality of the day was abruptly brought home as we drove into Rome airport. Time for Ben and Renae to start their long journey home to Australia. A lot of good food, wine, history and experiences shared over ten days. 

For us it was now time to move onto the business end of the season. Time to begin our journey back to Cartagena Spain and to prepare Katherine for the winter. 

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© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain