Road to Rome and beyond…

There is a medieval poverb- All roads lead to Rome. And the first road, the Apian Way led from.what is now Puglia to Rome.

On the small roads from Manfredonia, there are plenty of Roman reminders.

The main road into Rome is no longer the old Apian Way, there is a motorway instead, but the ancient road is still there.

As is the old city wall

But what can I say about Rome that hasn’t already been said, what pictures can I show that havent been shown?

What stunned me was that only an E-bike ride from centre of Rome along the old Apian Way, it was countryside.

So let me leave Rome and head north east to get the bike serviced in Rimini before heading to Croatia.

A short ride north of Rome in Tuscany are the Saturnia hot springs.

It was 32c when I was there, so probably not the best day for a 30c hot spa, but it was still beautiful.

The stop for the night was Lago di Bolsena, Europe’s largest volcanic lake. The shores of the lake is dotted with camping grounds. Even in the peak of summer, there are spaces to pitch a tent.

The riding through southern Tuscany toward Rimini was beautiful – beautiful roads and beautiful villages.

In the peak of holidays there was no accommodation in Rimini but luckily the was up the mountain in San Marino. A short ride from Rimini

The team at Opificio Bike Store in Rimini are fantastic, and I can’t thank them enough. On their first day back from holidays, they serviced, the engine, brakes, and fitted new tyres. Not only that, invited me to the Moto Guzzi Clunhouse for dinner that night.

The club house is an old farm shed between Rimini and San Marino. From the clubhouse, one can see the lights of the city of San Marino perched up on the mountain.

San Marino is in Italy but not in Italy. It claims to be the oldest continuous repblic in the world and is a seperate country. One of the handful of strange micro states within Europe.

With the mighty breva serviced, it was time to head to Anconna to catch the night ferry to Split, Croatia.

Ok ok ok! I just skipped over Rome.

In many ways, August is a good time to visit Rome. Though it’s full of tourists, most of the city due to its population escaping for holidays. Hence, the streets and public transport were easy to get around on. It’s both a beautiful and contradictory place. I’ll let some photos do the talking.

Puglia – Manfredonia and Gargona National Park

Manfredonia sits at the northern end of Puglia on the Adriatic Sea, nestled, south of the Gargona Promontory.

Its a lively town with a big fishing fleet and wonderful seafood restaurants.

It’s flanked by beaches.

And wet lands

The Gargona National Park is on a plateau with ancient forests, amazing motorcycling roads, and historic towns and villages.

Monte Sant’Angelo is a UNESCO World Heritage village perched up on the Gargona Escarpment. It is recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

The Sactuary of Saint Michael the Archangel is in a cave church dating back to the 9th century.

The village is indeed beautiful with views to the sea, beautiful old pedestrian walkways, and beautiful local food

Puglia – Alberobello

The ferry from Messina landed in Vill San Giovani, Calabria. An overnight stop before heading to Puglia on Italy’s east coast.

In the village, there was dancing in the streets.

From the toe of Italy, the route to the east winds along the coast and over the mountains of Calabria.with spectacular views.

Then past the southern beaches with castello on the headland

To Puglia on Italy’s heel.

Alberobello is in the region on Puglia and is famous for its unique trulli stone houses.

The special building have led to Alberobello being declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

Its is truly beautiful to walk the streets lined by Trulli!

Sicily- Ortigia and Etna

Having managed some sleep on the chaotic overnight ferry trip from Cagliari (Sardinia) to Palermo (Sicily), arriving at 5am, there was plenty of time to cross the Island to Syracuse.

While the heat wave conditions in Europe had eased, it was still summer, and at Syracuse, the Mediterranean called.

Ortigia is an ancient walled city on a little Islet in Syracuse. Its history dates back to 700bc. Its been Phonecean, Greek ,Roman,,, and now Italian.

Mount Etna looms over the east coast of Sicily, huffing and puffing steam and smoke.

The European and African push together in Sicily, and it’s at Etna that the steam of that collision is let off.

The road around Mount Etna is a fantastic ride up the mountain to the high village where there is a gondola and unimog bus to the volcano craters.

The steam coming from the Etna was impressive. Especially given that there had only recently had an eruption.

Sicily is close to northern Africa and is a frontline destination for people escaping was and issues of changing climate in Africa.

In Syracuse, a humanitarian rescue ship is replenishing.

At the harbour at Messina, there is a memorial to those who have died fleeing war and hunger.

Then, it was another ferry to Calabria on the Italian mainland.

The Balkans and scars of war

After arriving in Croatia I travelled north to the beautiful Gacka Valley with the aim of staying a few days in his beautiful part of the country.

I booked a room in the small village of Zalznica and looked forward to exploring the area.

Dinner that night was at Bistro JELEN, where I became a regular.

I asked the chef, Zeljko, about hiking in the area. He warned me to stay to the trails as may still be land mines in the forest. This was my first encounter with the scars of the Balkans civil war, that raged from 1991 to 1999 and in some places like the Serbia/Kosovo border still happening.

In Mostar, the scars are still visible on the streets where brutal fighting in close quarters took place.

The scars are also visible in the small cemetaries that are dotted through the countryside. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph any. As one photo could not represent the large number of these new cemetaries or the death contained there.

The Massacre at Srebrenica is a documented war crime from the Balkan wars.

At Blagaj, near Mostar, there is a Sufi Mosque that sits above one on the largest springs in Europe.

This cushion sits in the little reading room of the most. A memorial to the Massacre at Srebrenica.

Travelling through the Balkan Countries. Monuments to.war are a regular occurrence.

In 2019, I visited Ljubjana, where there is a monument to the Peasant Uprisings. A moving monument that remembers the slavic peoples revolts against the Austro/Hungarian Empire.

ANZAC COVE, holds a special place in Australian history and mythology. Being so close to Gallipoli, where the Cove is located, I decided to visit. What’s another 1000km or so anyway.

I have always wondered why the Gallipoli campaign is so important. Australian forces took part in an attempt to invade Turkey. Turkey had only recently joined WW1 on the side of Germany.

The attack was a total failure with enormous casualties on both sides.

There are monuments to the dead on both sides.

It was said that WW1 was the war to end all wars.

In Australia, on ANZAC Day and Armistice Day, we all say Lest We Forget. But we do forget as the war ploughs headlong into more wars, more suffering, more death.

A few weeks after travelling through Kosovo, there was a fire fight near the Serbian/Kosovo border, killing 8 people. I had been near there.

Dear friends and followers, I’ve struggled with the ever-present reminders of war I encountered in the Balkans. Hence, this blog.

Normal broadcasting of lighthearted travel and adventure stories can now resume.