Posted by on 26, Mar 2023 in 2023 - Sicily and Italy, Italy, Tilly the Tandem


The Sicilans will tell you they’re not Italian, they’re Sicilian, except when the football team plays, when they’re Italian. Well we are now with the Italians who are Italian all the time and we’re now venturing up from Salerno to Naples and beyond.

After a couple of days regrouping in Salerno and persuading Linda to get back on the bike our first stop was Stabia, a less well know Pompei. It’s not far from Salerno and there are 3 routes to get there from Salerno. Round the Amalfi coast, which was a definite no no, with all the hills and sheer drops combined with the challenging drivers.

Then there was over the hills along the main road – see above and lastly the longer route that did a big U to take us inland then back down to the coast. This gave us a gentler climb, less busy roads and no sheeer drops, which is obviously the one we choose.

The climb out of Salerno was ok, 225m in 10km at a fairly pleasant gradient which we managed to cycle up non stop. Then there was a very pleasant gradient going down giving us a gentle ride for almost the whole of the rest of the day apart from the hills up to Stabia at the end.

Most of the drivers were ok (which surprised the hell out of us), but there were of course the usual nut jobs, but as it’s basically Naples for about the next week most roads were slow through built up areas.

We even found a nice park for our lunch but had to put the pedal to the pedal late in the day when our fabulously warm and sunny morning turned into a dark, windy and threatening day with rain all around us and Vesuvius looking really menacing looming in the distance.

Unlike Etna, Vesuvius looked nasty and dangerous, angry even (ironical.. as we cycled through a town called Angri just at the base of it). It looks scary, but perhaps that was the wind and very black skies, but I’ll be happier when we are safely north of it in a few days time. A local told us it’s due to go up anytime now… A story to scare the tourists perhaps??

A beautiful sunny day greeted us the next morning and we stopped off at the Stabia Roman villas – Ariane and Marcos. These amazing buildings, still with complete mosaic floors and frescoed walls, some up to roof height stood on the edge of the cliff overlooking Versuvius and the bay below. They had extraordinary views and were the homes of the obscenely wealthy Roman gentry.

The outdoor pool square even had plaster casts of the roots of 100 year old Plain trees that lined the pool. They really are magnificent places to visit and we longed for our TARDIS once more.

We stopped for a coffee and a marvel at just how well the buildings had survived and how relatively new they looked whilst all the new buildings around us looked like they’d fall down if someone sneezed to violently! What would the Romans make of this place now?

As the next storm zoned in on our location we tried to scamper the 8km to our next hotel before it arrived and failed miserably.

This was partly due to the amount of traffic here. It is wall to wall cars and waiting for ongoing traffic to ease so you can get past a parked car takes ages. Wish we’d brought a sandwich! No one let’s you out, you are expected to just go for it and then force the incoming traffic to stop, or even back up in a game of chicken, which isn’t a game that cyclists will win.

So after much starting and stopping we ducked into a garage to avoid the heaviest downpour and eventually arrived at our Pompeii hotel for visits to more Archaeological wonders over the coming days.

Pompeii is a must see site. It’s simply amazing, vast and everytime you turn a corner you say wow! From the wheel ruts in the road, the graffiti, the 2 story homes, frescos, mosaics, statues it just takes tour breath away.

We spent all day there and then the next day visited Herculaneum – it’s less well known and much smaller cousin. Here the houses are more in tact, some were even found with food in bowls on the upper floors, which criminally were allowed to collapse.

Both towns were mainly evacuated prior to the pyroclastic flow, but in Herculaneum the boat sheds are full of people who were waiting to be evacuated and it reminds you that these fantastic places were home to thousands who never saw them again.

After wearing our feet out we left Pompeii and headed to … Pompeii. Now, I’m not lost, but there were 2 more villas we wanted to visit, one being a farm and vineyard and the other being the magnificent Villa Poppaea, which was the home of Nero’s wife. It was inhabited at the time of the eruption as it was being renovated after earlier earthquakes, but it is still an amazing place to gawp at the almost perfect frescos and mosaics. The outdoor pool made Olympic pools look tiny!

So after visiting these two sites we stopped for the night only a couple of Kms north of where we set off ready to head inland in the morning and get away from the horrendous traffic the Mediterranean side of Versuvius.


  1. It’s clear the Romans were technologically advanced and their feats were lost for centuries. As seen in your mosaic picture with Rex and the satellite dish in the corner.

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