Italy & Tunisia 2005

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We spent seven weeks in late 2005 mostly in Italy and Tunisia. Twelve days in Tunisia were followed by visits to Malta, Sicily, Pompeii, Sardinia, Pisa, Istria, and Venice. Ray spent an additional two weeks in Eastern Europe, mostly visiting friends in Romania.

Northwestern Sicily
After a brief stop in London, we flew to Palermo, spent a day and a half there, then an afternoon driving to Trapani. The next morning we took a ferry to Tunisia. More pictures...
We spent twelve days in Tunisia, touring Tunis, the capital, and the Roman ruins of Dougga and Sbeitla and El Jem. We saw an annular solar eclipse in the desert oasis of Tozeur, saw the scenery that inspired (and appeared in) Star Wars near Tataouine, and spent a day in Kairouan, the holiest Islamic city in Africa. More pictures...
We sailed on a very nice overnight ferry from Tunis to the small island nation of Malta, just south of Sicily. It has many interesting prehistoric sites and tons of large ornate churches, and, having been part of the British Empire for awhile, they drive on the left side of the road. Ray had hoped to see both of its islands, but since we only had two and a half days we decided to concentrate on just a few things. More pictures...
Eastern Sicily
We crossed from Malta to Sicily, and in a whirlwind of three days caught glimpses of quite a few places, some of which were more fun than others. Pozzallo, Ragusa, Siracusa, Noto, Mt. Etna, Taormina. More pictures...
Napoli, Pompeii, and Herculaneum
We drove up to Napoli, spent a wearying day at Pompeii, and a couple of hours the next morning at Herculaneum. More pictures...
We flew on RyanAir from Rome's second largest airport to Sardinia's second largest town, Alghero, and spent five days driving all over the island. Sardinia, not far off the coast of Italy, has traditional connections to the Catalan empire in Spain, and the Carthaginian empire in Tunisia. More pictures...
To Pisa, and Onward
We returned to Rome and immediately drove to the town of Tarquinia and spent the night. The next morning we drove through Massa Maritima (whose most famous mural is under restoration so we have to take the whole trip over again), arriving in Pisa with enough time left to glance at its tourist center before the sun set. The next day we drove across Italy, stopped briefly in San Marino, then found our way to the Istrian peninsula. More pictures...
Istria is a peninsula immediately adjacent to Trieste. A small strip at the top is part of Slovenia, and most of it is part of Croatia. It has changed hands many times in the past several centuries. Our curiosity was originally piqued when we went to Albona, an Istrian restaurant in San Francisco. You have to wonder what view we have of the world outside of eating. More pictures...
Venezia and Trieste
We drove back through Slovenia to Italy, and had a wonderful lunch at Trattoria Blanch in Mossa. The rest of the day was spent in horrible traffic getting to the Treviso airport to return the car, and then on the bus to Venice. We had two solid days in Venice -- one gray, one sunny. We spent most of the time around St. Mark's Square, and did a little shopping. The following day we took the train to Trieste, where we had an afternoon to look around. More pictures...
Dave's Flight Home
[Dave:] I had to get back to work, so at this point I left. The scene at the Trieste airport was pretty stupid — they didn't honor my e-ticket so I had to buy an additional ticket, which got refunded in Munich. Once I got in the air, it was quite beautiful. More pictures...
Ray's Continuing Journey
[Ray:] I'd been telling everybody I was going to Romania so even though Dave had other obligations I decided to go anyway. Flying there would have been about three times as much as taking the train; and the flight back to London was much cheaper on RyanAir from Poland; and so gradually the mission drifted into a prolonged not very well thought out and occasionally hurried and stalled at the same time social visit. More pictures...
Here are some photos you might want to use as desktops or wallpaper. The large versions are really large. More pictures...

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