Hi ! Welcome to Robin and June's "Holiday" page.
Since 1999 we have been taking most of our holidays in Italy every year. After England, our home, we think of Italy as our favourite country - the Weather, Food, and - of course - the Italian People.
June and I have been taking Italian lessons - for years now. I guess we have now progressed a bit beyond "Ciao !" :-)
Here are a few pictures and videos from our holiday this year, followed by those in earlier years - enjoy !
Of all Italy, it seems we love Sicily the most. Click on the map to see places we often return to, such as Naxos.
See the 2016 Sicily Holiday page then maybe watch some of the 30 minute video of "Sicily in 2016"
See the 2015 Sicily Holiday page then maybe watch some of the 26 minute video of "Sicily in 2015"
Here is 15 minutes from our 30 minute home video of "Sicily in 2014". Or just see some 2014 Holiday Pictures.
Here are 4 minutes from our video of "Sicily in 2013". See 40 secs of the video of Sorrento and Rome in 2012 :-)
See 2011 Sicily pictures or 22 minutes of the Sicily 2011 holiday video - with Sicilian cats, cows and the little donkey :-)
The first two minutes of the Sicily 2010 holiday video is here - with Sicilian kangaroos and penguins !
Click on the video to see what we did, and the pictures to enlarge them. Enrico and Matilde were our guides, and Duke came to dinner in Naxos too. We visited a few favourite spots within easy reach, such as San Marco, and Taormina. Three nights in Portopalo allowed us to explore the deep south of Sicily, including the amazing ancient church in Ispica. Robin had problems prenouncing "Monte Arso", when we were shown around the farm where Alessio is working. We had a picnic with friends near Antillo, and pinched most of the cherries they were growing :-)
See the 2016 Sicily Holiday page for more pictures, and the 30 minute video. We had another lovely two week holiday in Sicily, staying in our favorite Hotel La Riva in Naxos, below the more famous Taormina. June spent much of the time, as always, sunning herself on the beach, and reading a book. Robin took cigar-smoking lessons from Enrico, until interrupted by June. We spent three nights in a B&B with Enrico and Matilda, at Scala di Turki (Turkish Steps) near Agrigento, in the south. We saw lots of other places with Enrico and Matlda, including picking cherries near Antillo, and attending the famous "Territorio in Festa" in Punta Lazzo.
See Pictures from our Tennis Holiday in Corfu - June had the tennis lessons, but Robin assisted with seeing Corfu, enjoying good company, and tasting the wine ! :-)
See Robin's GPSS on Water page for details of this weekend break with Stuart Quarrie, Robin's flat-mate, and Best Man at our wedding in 1971. Play our Cowes Week 2015 video.
What a fantastic two weeks - and this year we used the bus instead of the usual hire car. They work great - and are really cheap ! Our main base was our much-loved Hotel La Riva, in (Giardini di) Naxos, and just a long walk or a bus ride from the famous Taormina, on the hill. We took day trips by bus along the coast, north the Letojanni, for the tandem hang-gliding, or south to Riposto or Achreale. We spent lots of time with our crazy italian friends, including those in the picture near the giant bell, in the hills towards Messina. Enrico and Matilda took three nights holiday with us on the remote island of Salina, reached by train and ferry. Enrico showed Robin how to light a Tuscan cigar, so Robin could blow the smoke in June's face. Matilda and June just LOVE the smell. More pictures are on our 2015 Sicily Holiday page, uploaded while in Sicily.
You need only watch the first 2 minutes introduction of the 26 minute video of "Sicily in 2015" now ready !
Another lovely two weeks holiday in Sicily, but this time in late September. June loves the sun and warmth, and Robin enjoys hanging out with the other old men sat in the town squares. Next year, we will probably go in late May again - later sunsets, to coincide with the prosecci before eating, and fewer months to wait until the next ! :-) We stayed the first few nights in Naxos, and then the majority in Scoglitti, on the south coast. We managed to visit many of our favorite places, plus a few more, like Ragusa Ibla, where we had not spent time before. Many Thanks to our friends, for making us feel so welcome, and spending time with their friends and family. The 15 minutes from our 30 minute home video of "Sicily in 2014" gives you a "flavour" of why we enjoy Sicily so much: or just see some 2014 Holiday Pictures.
Here is a little mosaic of pictures from our holiday, and there is now a short video, after a few words below the pictures. Enjoy! :-)
We spent several days with our old friends Enrico and Matilda, and joined then for a day out with their Zefferana biker's club, on a day trip to the "deep south", not far from Montalbano's home in Punta Secca. Who would have guessed that Montalbano was a keen biker, photographer, had a shop in the town, and that we would actually meet him ? We had visited Punta Secca before, but this was the first time we'd spoken to him on the 'phone and actually spent time with him ! We visited Cava Grande again, the 300 metre deep canyon near Noto. We walked the 2km down to the river and lovely clear lakes at the bottom (right), then walked all the way back up again! It was great to see familiar faces again, at places we had stayed before: Hotel Riva in Naxos, below Taormina, for five nights; Hotel La Ferla in Noto two nights - we visited "Il Buco" to eat, who introduced us to Pasta Con Sarde years ago; Then to the south and four nights in Scoglitti, at our favourite Hotel Oasi - to watch the sunsets - and visit places like Punta Secca. Then a lovely one day with our biker friends in Mazzarino, from where we could still see Mount Etna, even though 55 miles/88 km away ! (see below) We also checked out a wine factory, a few miles from there, via dusty pot-holed roads. That night we stayed just outside the town of Piazza Armarina, near the Roman villa with the floor mosaics of girls in bikinis. We loved the stay in the bed & breakfast named "My House in the Garden" and trying to chat with Maria in her local Sicilian Dialect - even Enrico and Matilda found it difficult! :-) That night we ate in the smallest but nicest family restuarant "da Gianna" in the town. Then, for the first time, we stayed with our old friends, Enrico and Matilda, with their four young men and pack of guard dogs - including "Spike", "Duke", plus Duke's two wives and a host of puppies ! Here is a flavour of our holiday in the 4 minute video of "Sicily in 2013".
It was 1999 that we last saw Rome - all in one day - see below! We stayed in Sorrento 11 years ago, and this year we booked the usual cheap Easyjet flights, but instead of a hire-car, we took the trains and buses - more adventure! It was lovely to enjoy some of our favorite places - like the lemoncello forest in Sorrento :-) See the first 40 secs of their holiday video here :-)
We only had a week in Sicily this year: 2 nights in Siracusa, home of Archimedes, then 5 nights in Naxos and our favorite Hotel La Riva.
It was great to visit new places we had not seen before, like the "Ear of Dionysus" in Siracusa, and Castelmola, the hill top village even higher than Taormina.
We took the bus up to Taormina, but walked back down to Naxos, despite the warning signs about a landslide - now fixed. But most of all we enjoyed seeing familiar places and friends, including this spot on the beach, after a stroll through the Gardens of Naxos, and along a small stream that runs down to the sea.
Here are just two of the pictures taken this year in Sicily Last year's video is here. We just loved the baby donkey - and Sicilian kangaroos ! :-)
This year the cheapest flights were Easyjet into Palermo airport. We decided to see Palermo for the first time, but stayed in Monreale, a small city on a hill overlooking Palermo. It was an easy bus ride down to see Palermo.
We saw "interesting" bits of road, and heeded the signs. Then we stayed near the ruined, ancient greek town of Selinunte. We enjoyed a long walk through dusty paths of wild flowers between the ruins overlooking the sea.
Scogletti is the best little town on the south-west facing coast: within reach of Agrigento (greek temples) and less well known spots. Then Noto, preparing for the flower festival, then Naxos and a bus trip up to Taormina and it's amphitheatre.
The majority of our stay was in Giardino Naxos and our friends. We were honoured to attend the 25th birthday celebration of son Luca and to meet their extended family including Gran and Grandad. We ended our stay in Castellammare, not far from the airport.
You can see the first two minutes of our Sicily 2010 holiday video here - including glimpses of Sicilian kangaroos and penguins !
We spent much of our holiday in Naxos, and near our friends Enrico, Matilde and the boys on the slopes of Etna.
We also got to meet up with David and Jeanette in their boat on it's way from Malta via Sicily to Corfu.
We enjoyed a few days in Lipari after a stormy but safe crossing to the island by car ferry.
We took boat trips to see eruption of Stromboli and people bathing in smelly mud on Volcano.
After returning from the islands, to the mainland of Sicily, we found ourselves in Naxos again, and still managed to find lovely and interesting places we had not seen before.
This was another fly-drive holiday: booking the cheapest flights we could find, and the lowest cost hire car.
We flew out on 10th May, drove to Naxos, and found "La Riva" - our favourite hotel there.
After a few nights, we drove up to Milazzo and stayed there two nights
before catching a car-ferry to Lipari. A few nights there, taking boat trips,
then back to Naxos for the remainder of our holiday - never long enough !
In 2008 we have drove our old E240 to northern Italy and Austria instead of taking the usual fly-drive. We did not expect to clock-up 7200 km (4472 miles) but that's what we did. The Channel Tunnel is certainly better organised than airports - and maybe even quicker ! :-)
Here are the places we slept: Aosta in north-west Italy, Jeselo near Venice in the east, then Vienna in Austria - after attending the robot boat event at Breitenbrunn.
It was our first visit to Vienna, and we enjoyed the lovely buildings, statues, and the famous "singing toilets" at the Opera underground station. Then back into Italy, and Belluno in the Dolomites, where we met friends Gino and Carolina.
Then Bologna, with it's leaning tower (yes, it too has one), Pesaro, Bracianno, Orbetello, Albenga - where we could meet our old friends, the Costa family. Then Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet. We also took in a few nice places such as San Marino and Viterbo, sometimes on days where parking was the problem, rather than just finding a hotel. Then back into Austria so we could stay with old friends Walter and Gizzy in the lovely Tirol village of Kossen. Then a night in Strasbourg, to break our jouney back to Calais, Folkstone and home to Sunninghill. A lovely break ! :-)
... the view of Etna from the balcony
of our hotel near the gardens of Naxos ... a stroll
through the gardens... wild flowers, orange trees, with Taormina
in the background ... and a walk up to the ancient theatre in Taormina.
... although one week is never enough, we did manage to stay in Siracusa
and the lovely city of Noto again... also to enjoy the company of Enrico, Matilda and the boys.
Yes, June did not need to twist Robin's arm too hard for him to agree to them taking another cheap winter holiday in Spain's Murcia region, staying with Sally and Michael in Portman: see earlier years below. The bay silted up with toxic waste, and derelict factories, has it's own own special charm: in fact, we will probably all miss these unusual attractions when Portman gets it's "makeover", starting in early 2007. In another five years they say we will see a green golf course, lake, harbour for 700 small boats and a beach of yellow sand - instead of that sooty stuff.
On the left you see what we saw, walking
up to find a geocache, on the way to the big guns that overlook the bay.
Below, you see the view in the other direction, past the La Manga Golf resort in the foreground,
over the lagoon, to the distant high rise hotels of the "La Manga Strip". There's June, putting our "no expenses spared"
ball point pen and UK 2p piece into the geocache. Robin, Michael, June and Sally make
a new friend at the bar where we paused for an evening cocktail.
This was our first holiday in Sardinia, and will not be our last. The island was far greener
than we expected - particularly when compared with much of Italy and Spain. The Sardinians
make sure they catch all the water before it enters the sea ! There was much to surprise us,
such as interesting names given to villages, and roadside signs used for target practise:
the photo on the right only shows what look like 303 calibre holes - there are often hundreds
of 177 and a few 202 dents. Most road signs in Sardinia seem to get this treatment :-)
As usual we made no definite
plans, flying into Calgliari on 4th June, picking up the cheapest hire car we could find (National),
and searching small towns for a cheap hotel within a short walk of where the locals gather in the
evening to drink, eat and talk.
This year Robin took his GPS and
to help them get lost, and do a little
That's June about to put a ladybird toy into the cache we found at a remote spot in the
hills near San Antonio di Gallua. I say "remote", but it was the weekend that the whole
village have a "festa" and take their picnics - just yards from the geocache location.
But it was not difficult to visit the cache without being seen by others, fill in the logbook, etc.
We started and ended our holiday in Portoscuso, on the south west corner. Do not be put off
by the massive industry south of the town: it ensures the town has a little "life" in it - particularly
the first weekend in June, during the festival to celibrate the tuna arriving. The picture on the right
is typical of the many lovely beaches in Sardinia - this one near Santa Maria Navarresa, on the east coast.
In the north, we enjoyed Palau - another small town big enough to "watch the world go by" in the late
evening - don't expect to see many people before 9 or 10 pm in any of these places. Next Year ? Sardinia or mainland Italy of course :-)
P.S. Oh yes: British Airways managed to lose both our suitcases this time :-) But clever June knew to pack what we needed in the hand-luggage. We felt sorry for several other groups of passengers who had the same problem: one couple were passing through Sardinia to Corsica and had little else with them. Thanks also to Francesca and Carlo - our new friends in Sardinia : for that lovely meal in such a nice spot not far from Cagliari.
See "winter 2004" below, for more about Portman in Spain, where June and Robin grab the occasional few days of winter sunshine.
This year Robin took his little camera-carrying
'plane and got his sister Sally and hubby Michael to help him get TV pictures of where they
live in Portman (see left), and over a friend's place near the big lagoon. June took the piccy
on the right, in one of her rare breaks from soaking up the sun or nagging Robin into getting
something to replace his tatty leather jacket.
We made no special plans this year - other than to spend the middle week of our
precious two, in Albenga, in the lovely "oldy-worldy" property of Michael and Mario,
just a few yards from our old friends the Costas, in the centre of the town.
As usual it was cheap flights
through Milano and and a hire car. This time it was the first two weeks of May:
too early for the jasmine and bougainvillea to flower, but with snow still visible
on mountain peaks and a little more water in the streams. We flew out on Saturday 30th April
and drove down to stay the first night at Hotel Gina in Vinci (on left) - as we did last year.
N 43° 47.371 E 010° 55.765 - for those with a GPS.
we drove down through Toscana, past
San Giamiglano, with it's tall towers, and Robin got to spy some black kites
over what must be the prettiest land-fill site in Europe - see above right.
We stayed in Hotel Vittoria in Anguillara on Lago di Bracciana so we could visit the
Tolfa Mountains and maybe see some
- no chance - it seems there are very few birds of prey in Italy.
However, our visit
to Riserva Naturale Montevano was rewarded by a lovely walk down the ravine, past
sulphur fumes bubbling up through streams (very top), and the ancient ruined city (right).
N 42° 07.900 E 012° 05.396 - I think is where we parked the car.
Then, returning north,
we visited the hill town of Montelcino, home of Isabella Duci who wrote the book,
"Vanilla Beans and Brodo" that June finished this year, after starting it last year
- June is a slow reader. That's June on the left, stood next to the "Spectacle Well",
one of the works of art in the town - although Robin thinks it is where they throw
old pensioners. We stayed in Bolsena on lago di Bolsena as we made our way
back via shoe factory outlet shops for a night on the edge of Firenza, on the river.
Petromoli was a lovely town, situated where two small rivers meet, and we stayed there
one night and ate in Norina's place - including the local specialties such as wild mushrooms
and "Testerina on Toast" - Robin was a little dubious on what this dish was - but they were tasty.
Petromoli has a lovely wild park, on the downstream end of the old town (below left).
Then back for our relaxing week in Albenga - there's June pointing at where we stayed: 9 Vico Poggia: walk along the river towards the sea and turn left near where the geese sleep and at the only skewed zebra crossing. This time we got to check out more bars and restaurants - including "Blu Bar" in the centre and "Luna e la sole" bar, on the main road to the sea, which gets sun in the evening. The "Falcone" restaurant - just a short stagger from 9 Vico Poggia. More shoe shops and markets, of course, and Robin even got to fly his little aeroplane with it's TV camera to see Albenga from the air ! That's a still on the left from the short video given to Michael, Luigi and neighbor Silvana. If you are on broadband, or don't mind the download delay, you can see some of the video here (4MB) Yes, it was a rapid descent for landing :-)
Then we decided to end our holiday further east past Genova around the coast
at Santa Magharita. We stayed one night at the Hotel Elena Regina,
enjoyed their restaurant but noted it seemed a mile walk from the town centre.
So the next two nights were enjoyed at the lovely Hotel Miramar in Rapello,
opposite where the little (road) train and water taxi parks. Our biggest
adventure must have been our long walk over the hills and down into the
little cove of San Fruttuoso, reachable only by footpath or water taxi.
After the three hour walk, and ice-cream when we got there, we were very happy
to take the boat back to Rapello. Oh yes, we started our walk in Santa Magharita,
after taking the boat there from Rapello. Above pictures are looking down into San Fruttuoso,
on the boat, approaching Rapello, and from our hotel room. On the right June relaxes
for a few minutes on our walk, before we make our way down the hill, and to a bar :-)
Cheap BA flights via Milano, then the cheapest hire Europacar for another fly-drive. Just two pictures here: that on the right is Vinci, where we stayed for our first few nights - partly because British Airways managed to lose one of the two suitcases :-) However, it did mean we got to do a few walks in the hills around Vinci - home of Leonardo, including to his birthplace on a hill north of the town. The museum in Vinci is well worth a visit, and it includes models of his numerous inventions, including a bicycle, clockwork car, helicopter and diving suit. Robin found out about Vinci, and the museum, while searching the net for wind speed meters - yes, the great man invented one of those too. Below is where we stayed at the end of these lovely two weeks: Bellagio on Lago di Como.
Our very first winter break, even if only 5 days, but this time Spain. Robin and June stayed with Robins' sister Sally and Michael, at their new place in Portman, a nice little seaside village in Murcia - although you might not choose to go there if you read under "Toxic Threats" on the greenpeace site. We enjoyed exploring the local derilict industrial wasteland, the two 380mm cannon high above the "contaminated bay" (to ward off tourist shipping), and the huge thriving oil refinery further along the coast - but we also enjoyed watching the locals catch fish to eat from the beach, driving on quiet roads, eating good food, and the rare experience of sun-bathing in January.
We decided to drive our old silver Merc (C4 GPS), instead of fly-drive. The last time we did this was 1999 - see far below. We took the Dover-Calais Ferry on 29 May and drove through Paris before staying in a low cost but nice modern little B&B Hotel south west of the city. Next night was Cannes. The first week in Italy was on the coast, between Alasio and Albenga - much loved by us. Later we took in Pisa then Lake Garda and tasted the trout again :-p Finally we came back via northern Italy and Austria (just where was that border :-) stopping on the German side of the River Rhein. Then across small roads of France to catch the ferry back to UK on 15 June.
Apartment in Monte e Mare.... up to the old Roman road.... for Views of the sea...
Alasio is only an hours walk south.... as is Albenga to the north.... with much to be enjoyed....
old Roman baths beside the river.... Olive Oil Museum.... or just relaxing in the sun....
then down to Pisa.... up to Lake Garda.... north to the mountains, para-gliders and Austria....
through to Germany and the Rhein.... la belle France.... including friend Pascal's place :-)
Last year Samantha, our eldest daughter came with us. We flew out on Air Italia to pick up a hire car at Roma on 22nd June and returned to UK on 6th July. 2 days at Albano, just south of Roma, then 7 days in Sorrento south of Napoli, then down south, to Lecca and Capo Santa Maria di Leuca, on the southern "heel" tip of Italy. Back up the Adriatic coast to Manfredonia for a night, then into the green mountains west of Isernia - Colli a Volturno - tasty trout :-) Then back for a few hours near the sea south of Latina before returning via Roma Fiumicino to UK. The last time we took Samantha to Italy was over 20 years ago - I remember her in the back of a small hired Fiat 600 shouting "spaghetti !" :-) June and I showed her some now-familiar places, like Roma, Sorrento Pompei and Capri, and we found some new places - maybe also to be visited next year :-)
near the Colosium in Roma.... Ostia Antica near the airport.... Capri daytrip from Sorrento...
Yes, we are slowly begining to think in Italian - for place names at least :-) We flew out to Italy on Friday 18th May, and returned to UK on Monday 4th June; picked up a hire-car at Linate, then two nights at Prato, near Firenze; Then on south to Siena; then Albano south of Roma; nearly a week in Sorrento, across the bay from Napoli and Pompeii; back north to stay with friends in Albenga; then back to Linate and home; a clear day - could see the Alps from 100 miles, including where we stopped for a picnic on the Po River.
Over the bay from Sorrento, Pompeii overshadowed by Vesuvius... theatres... kitchens...
In 2000 we had another great holiday. But this time we flew to Milano then hired a car: less driving - more time to relax :-) More time to enjoy Albenga, Little Leca and Liguria.
Prior to 1999, it had been many years since Robin and June last took a
holiday to Italy (1981 ?).
In June 1991 they decided to "live dangerously" and drive their "old banger"
of a Mercedes down
through France and around Italy. Places visited included
Florence, Rome, Ferrara, Allasio and Albenga. They had a fantastic holiday - made the
more enjoyable by meeting some of Robin's "Internet Friends".
Lovely warm weather, even warmer people, fantastic food.....
Rome was hot, and full of 'old and big places' - LOTS of walking that day !
After Trevi Fountains, the Vatican and St Peter's square, back via the Collosium ...
...of course, we HAD to take a Laptop computer and GPS - just in case we got lost - and we still did a few times... well, not so much lost, as took the wrong turning off the road - but the GPS got us back out of difficulty... We humans were less confused than the GPS, everytime we went into a tunnel - and there were a lot of those on our 3000 mile trek - some miles long.
The 'old banger' of a Merc did not let us down... a puncture in Alassio cost us a couple of hours, and 7 GBP for a repair. After we got back, the water pump started to leak, and that cost all of 25 GBP, and a few hours to fit - so 'the old girl' can be congratulated :-) The old brown Mercedes lasted another few months, but then it eventually "died" due to rust - so we sold it for £90 :-) We now have another Mercedes which is a little newer, with registration "C4 GPS" (see for GPS) - so you don't know how old it is :-)
Many Thanks for taking the time to look at these pictures.
Robin and June would like to say sorry now, to all those that we did not have time to see while we were in Italy, and a great big 'Thankyou' to those we did see - and who helped to make this such a wonderful experience. We certainly hope to see Italy again. ....... that was back in 1999. Well, I guess we've been a few time's since :-)
(c) 1991-2017 Robin Lovelock.
Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill Systems, 22 Armitage Court, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks SL5 9TA, United Kingdom.