Service no limits

I am Simon, I am English and I live between Roma and Amalfi in Italy. I have lived in Italy since 1990 and I speak reasonable Italian and French, plus some English!!

I love travelling and exploring, I have worked in Export Sales for more than 30 years which has taken me all over the world, and I like nothing better than travelling around Italy and Europe by car, van or motorbike alone or with friends.

I know Italy fairly well and I love to help others to discover the beauty of Italy and to avoid the many pitfalls. Many visitors love Italy but do not really know how to avoid the difficult bits, as the language and the mentality is very different from the American and North European “norms”.

I also have a small fleet of vehicles that I can rent out to the right people or can use to transport you around. You fly into Roma and wanna get to the Amalfi Coast?? I can take you. You need to transport you and/or your luggage around between hotels? Call me. You wanna try a motorcycle experience?? I can supply a touring bike with a satnav in English all ready to go. You wanna visit the Ducati or Ferrari factory?? No problem. You need a route for a 3 day visit to Sicily or Sardinia? I can supply it.

Here follow some blogs to give you a taste of the Italian experience. Thanks!!

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A fascinating visit to a historic ceramic factory on the Amalfi Coast

Vietri sul Mare is perhaps the most famous town for ceramic tiles in the Naples area of Campania, perhaps one of the most famous in Italy. But the surrounding area, not just the town, still manufacture tiles and other ceramics using the traditional methods.

I went recently with Daniela to a local ceramic factory in Cava to choose the new tiles for their next hotel room restoration. The factory is a truly amazing place where the tile decorations are made totally by hand. The Aurora Hotel in Amalfi was built in 1959 using these tiles in every room, with different patterns and colours in each bedroom, and this is one way that the hotel continue to support the local economy, to keep their traditions alive and to offer their guests a real taste of traditional Amalfi Coast life.

Feast your eyes on this amazing factory, the workers and the products. Amazing.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

 

Artists at work….

I was recently lucky enough to witness and to help two Italian artists at work. Alessandro Vasari is a descendant of the well known Vasari family and you can read the history of his family here http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_fotografico_Vasari. His assistant for the weekend was graphic artist Valeria Lemmi, also from Roma, she frequently works with Alessandro on various of his projects.

They were visiting the Aurora Hotel in Amalfi to capture a series of photographs of the inside and the outside of the hotel, to be used to renew the hotel’s web site as well as to be used for related publicity and publications. The weather was (finally) good for the weekend of the 1st of June, here follow a few pictures of the weekend and hopefully the resulting photographs will soon be available on the hotel’s web site http://amalfi.aurora-hotel.it/.

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The stunning beauty of Sicily by motorbike…

The word Sicily evokes a range of thoughts and emotions in most travellers. Most of us know something of its amazing history which dates back to the Greeks and continues through Roman, Norman, Islamic and Byzantine periods up to it becoming part of the Italian state only some 150 years ago. The word Mafia is invariably associated with Sicily and this evokes uncertainty and fear. Plus Sicily is not so near to mainland Italy, we took an overnight ferry from Naples.

So for a combination of reasons Sicily tends to be under explored and relatively unknown. Yet this island offers so much to explore and so much history to discover that it really is worth a visit. Recently I went over for a 4-day trip by motorbike with a group of friends and we packed a lot into a short time. These photos show some of the beauty and I will seek to make a more detailed descrition of our route and itinerary upon request.

segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
ficuzza - casino di caccia dei borboni
ficuzza – casino di caccia dei borboni
l'abbazia - la chiesa
l’abbazia – la chiesa
l'abbazia
l’abbazia
l'abbazia - la tenuta
l’abbazia – la tenuta
l'abbazia - la chiesa
l’abbazia – la chiesa
l'abbazia - la chiesa
l’abbazia – la chiesa
cappella di s. rosalia
cappella di s. rosalia
sala lettura
sala lettura
sala lettura
sala lettura
chiostro
chiostro
chiostro
chiostro
crociera - chiostro
crociera – chiostro
refettorio
refettorio
abbazia cena conventuale
abbazia cena conventuale
abbazia di s. maria al bosco contessa entellina
abbazia di s. maria al bosco contessa entellina
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte

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A beautiful, peaceful hotel garden in the heart of busy Amalfi

Look at these pictures, they kind of talk for themselves. I was recently visiting the Hotel Aurora and I was told that they had recently renewed their gardens. So what, I asked?

Well, they serve the breakfast in the garden (when the weather allows), so it is worth a look, I was told. And they were correct……they have created a beautiful sanctuary where you can sit and rest and have a coffee and just watch the world go by, mainly by boat as the terrace overlooks the sea. A truly magic place. well worth a visit.

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Getting to know the beauty of Amalfi OUT of season, what a discovery…..

Everyone knows about Amalfi and the amazing Amalfi coast, even those who have never visited have surely read about it and dreamed of visiting. Words come to mind like the Cathedral, the island of Capri, great food and hospitality, limoncello, wonderful wine, olive oil, Ibsen (the Swedish writer) and Wagner, and stunning tiles and porcelain from nearby Vietri.

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But Amalfi also brings to mind expensive, very hot, crowded and heavy traffic (all true in June thro’ September, the main tourist season).

Well I have recently discovered a stunning compromise: Amalfi out of season.

I have visited Amalfi perhaps 30 times over the past 2 years, in general for a weekend but also for New Year and Easter and I am getting to know her better and better.DSCN1198 She reveals her beauty slowly and gradually but she also suprises you frequently. In the summer the sea and the sun are in charge, out of season when Amalfi has only its 3,000 ish residents it is much easier to explore her as during the season the population grows to more than 60,000 from all over the world.

The food is wonderful and the people very friendly, although the town gets a bit quiet as many businesses close down for some well earned rest and holiday. Many old and traditional businesses still survive in and around the town and many are passed down through the family. For instance you can find wine makers, lemon growers, olive growers and wine makers, bread makers and many many more activities and in general you can visit them easily out of season and even have a guided tour, the pictures below show a local bread “factory” run by a family and the 90 year old Gran is still in charge (not the one pictured here of course)!!.

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So you like thermal baths? Look…

See this web site: http://www.termestufedinerone.it/en

These wonderful, historic baths are near Pozzuoli, about 2 hours drive south from Roma. The baths are for the local people and as a visitor you can only gain access by staying at a local hotel as you become “resident” for a day and then you can go, paying about 30 Euro per person.

Most visitors would NOT choose to go as from the outside it looks average and the staff do not generally speak English. But once you get in and everything is explained to you, you will not want to leave. This area is built on a series of “faults” and hot water, indeed boiling water which comes out of these faults can reach 70 degrees. The Terme di Nerone are right next to the sea so the natural spring water is also mixed with sea water. The natural sauna in the rock, inside the terme, is 54 degrees at the entrance and then seems to get even hotter as the heat reflects off the stones if you dare to go further inside. The big outside swimming pool is at 35 degrees (25m x 10m) and the smaller indoor pool is at around 40 degrees.

The place is amazing, one seems to lose the concept of time inside and there is also a snack bar serving excellent and very inexpensive food, with seating both indoor and out.

It is not too easy to find nor to get in, so Services can help you, note that you require about 3 hours to really appreciate the experience. NOT to be missed.

A few helpful hints for visitors to Roma, the Eternal City

Some general points.

  • The spring and autumn seasons are usually warm in Roma so wear light materials (cotton) but bear in mind that you must be covered to enter St Peters and the Vatican City, as well as most churches. Light showers are possible. Summer is hot and sometimes very hot.
  • Roma has a large population of gypsies and petty criminals and pickpockets. Be aware that tourists are the easiest targets so be careful and never carry loads of cash. Avoid large handbags and wear bags on your front (where you can see them) and not on your back.
  • If a child or group of children gather round you with newspapers or maps then SHOUT AND MOVE AWAY. They are very talented and fast, while they push against you asking for money they move unseen under cover of the newspapers and very quickly take your bags/money or whatever.
  • Always ask the hotel to help you with bookings, taxis, map of the city etc. One excellent taxi service I use is 06 5551, the biggest is 06 3570. Taxis to and from the airport can be prebooked and the rate is fixed, ask your hotel reception for details.
  • Bars have several prices for a coffee: the lowest price is standing at the bar, you pay more if you sit at a table and more again if you sit at an outside table. Prices should be clearly shown.

Shopping.

  • Window shopping: Via Condotti and all of the area around the Spanish Steps where you will find Gucci, Armani, Valentino, Fendi and all of the expensive brands.
  • Buying: Clothes, bags, leather goods etc in Via del Corso, Via Nazionale and Via del Tritone (Benetton, Rinascente).

Sights to see.

  • Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St Peters Church and the Vatican City (a wonderful view of Roma can be had from the top of St Peters church but the lift only takes you halfway up so you must be fairly fit), Colosseum and Roman Forum, Circo Massimo, Campidoglio, Pantheon and sooooo many more.

A few places to eat (note that you generally eat well in most of Roma and indeed Italy, these are just a few places I know). Eating times are a little later than the UK but not as late as Spain so typically lunch between 13-00 and 15.00, dinner from 20.00 onwards.

  • Excellent pasta, pizza and meat at a very fair price: Disco Volante, Via Alessandria 50, Porta Pia area tel 06 44249849. Ask for Mimmo or Ignazio as they both speak excellent English. They have good reviews on Trip Advisor and plenty of seating inside, plus in the summer 20ish places outside.
  • Excellent pasta and meat dishes in the centre very close to the Roman Forum, Trattoria Romana, Via Madonna di Monti next to Via Cavour, tel 06 4745325. Small family run business with only a few tables so book and get there early and you will need a guide book or some basic Italian. Meat is the speciality and is wonderful.
  • Fairly posh place in centre but not too expensive, Roof Garden on the top floor at Hotel Bernini Bristol tel 06 488931 see http://www.berninibristol.com then Roma.
  • Best place to eat in Roma is La Pergola at the Hotel Cavalieri Hilton roof garden, the chef is Hans Beck and must be booked well in advance, needless to say very expensive but worth the experience. See Hilton web site.

Hope this helps!!

I have never experienced such wonderful fresh food and drink, anywhere

Last summer with friends, our motor bike tour of Abruzzo took in a town called Pescasseroli, for an overnight stop. We were booked in at the “hotel” but we had been told by other friends that the real experience was the food rather than the room.

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And indeed that was the case, and how. The place we found was Ristorante PLISTIA (see http://www.albergoristoranteplistia.it/) and what an experience it turned out to be. We met the owner Ciccito and his lovely wife and we soon discovered that he is the “host” and wine expert and she is the chef. There is no menu as such, as the food they serve is the fresh food that she finds at the market that day, and thus changes with the season

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The food was simply amazing and we MUST return, the hospitality too is amazing and even the breakfast was all freshly cooked. Mmmmm. Wonderful.

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