A bird’s eye view of Lago Trasimeno

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Lago Trasimeno is a beautiful place, famous for its scenery, ever-changing light and glorious sunsets.

Woven into this landscape are hill-top towns, lake-shore fishing villages and fortresses. I could never tire of exploring the region, walking the many trails and experiencing its natural beauty. To my delight, I’ve just discovered another perspective, a bird’s eye view so to speak, from a small single-engine light aircraft on a tour of the lake.

Montemelino

Take off is from the tiny airstrip at Montemelino (gps 43.103327,12.252417), or by request from the airfield at Castiglione del Lago. The route taken is flexible, you can either rely on the local knowledge of pilot Stefano, or ask him to fly over some specific places of interest.

Agello

My own flight path took me first to beautiful Agello, with its predominant hill-top bell tower. Agello overlooks the airstrip, so we were circling the town in less than two minutes from take off.

Agello

The hill-top town of Agello

Paciano

Onwards then towards Paciano, on the way experiencing awe-inspiring views Northwards across the lake and Southwards over the wooded hills. Paciano is one of the most beautiful villages in the region and if it were possible, it seemed even more beautiful from the air.

Paciano and Lago Trasimeno

Paciano and Lago Trasimeno

Castiglione del Lago

Leaving Paciano, we made our way back to the lake. Above San Fatucchio we turned and made a bearing for Castiglione del Lago, the largest town on the lake, with its imposing fortress a most interesting spectacle. Ahead and to our left the islands of Isola Maggiore and Isola Minore beckoned.

Castiglione del Lago

Castiglione del Lago with Isola Maggiore and Isola Minore top left

San Feliciano

Instead, we flew towards Isola Polvese the third island on LagoTrasimeno, with the fishing village of Sant’Archangelo forming a backdrop. We then swept past the other fishing village of San Feliciano on the Eastern board of the lake.

Isola Polvese

Isola Polvese, with Sant’Archangelo in the background

Monte del Lago

There was a tight right circle around Monte del Lago before heading back towards the airfield at Montemelino.

Monte del Lago

Monte del Lago

Oasi La Valle

A last backward glance revealed  the delicate boardwalk jutting out into the lake at Oasi La Valle and then the lake slipped out of our view.

Oasi la Valle

Oasi la Valle

Finally, the rush of the ground getting closer as we approached the grass airstrip and in no time we were back on land again. It was an interesting and exhilarating trip, well worth a try.

High definition photos from the flight may be purchased on my website www.andrewjonesfoto.com

La Nostra Vacanza in Sicilia

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Noi abbiamo cominciato la vacanza a Catania. Siamo arrivati da Dublino in aereo un pomeriggio ottobre duemiladieci. Prima di venire, abbiamo prenotato un agriturismo nella parte occidentale della Sicilia. Dopo che siamo atterrati, abbiamo affittato una macchina e siamo andati sulla strada con un po’ paura, perchè a Catania il traffico era il caos! Ma fuori Catania non abbiamo mai visto una altra macchina e la campagna era bellissima! Siamo andati in direzione di Palermo.  A Palermo il traffico era ancora più pazzo di Catania!

Dopo Palermo, senza cartello stradale, abbiamo trovato la nostra strada per l’agriturismo e poi abbiamo seguito una stretta e ruvida stradina per cinque chilometri. Ma poi alla fine della stradina, l’agriturismo era bellissimo! Un bel tramonto ci ha reso molto felici! Abbiamo mangiato una cena superba che è stata una conclusione perfetta di una buona giornata!

È piovuto tutto il giorno successivo, con una visibilità a meno di venti metri. Quindi siamo andati alla cattedrale di Monreale, un incredibile edifico costruito dai Normanni con bellissimi affreschi.

Monreale Cathedral

Quando ha smesso di piovere un po ‘, abbiamo visitato le saline di Trapani e Paceco. Questo era il panorama più interessante con molti uccelli trampolieri e alcuni mulini a vento in rovina.

Saline di Trapani e Paceco

Il giorno dopo siamo andati alla Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro per una lunga passeggiata lungo la costa. Ci sono molti belli picchi sul mare qui.

Lo Zingaro

La lunga passeggiata ci ha fatto venire fame e abbiamo mangiato un’altra bella cena nel agriturismo.

Abbiamo completato il nostro felicissmo sggiorno in agriturismo. Ci siamo trasferiti a Sciacca nel sud della Sicilia. Sciacca è un porto di pesca che è molto colorato.

Sciacca viewed from the Port

Quando le barche dei pescatori sono arrivato nel porto è stato emozionante. Subito una barca è arrivata, gli uomimi hanno scaricato le scatole di pesce. Persone si sono radunate intorno e hanno iniziato una vendita all’asta.img_7xhbnwvtd15bp8zk

Dopo l’asta i pescatori hanno riparato le reti.

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Quella sera abbiamo mangiato pesce direttamente dal mare al piatto!

La mattina dopo siamo andati a Castello Incantato, un parco di scultura di Fillippo Bentivegna un artista tragico e ossessivo. C’eranno centinaia di teste di pietra scolpite

Sculputure, Castello Incantato

E Poi siamo arrivati alla valle dei templi ……….

Temple of Heracles Tempio dei Dioscuri Ancient and modern Sicily_10212010_0528_sRGB

Quella sera abbiamo trovato un albergo a Noto. Il giorno successivo abbiamo esplorato la Riserva Naturale di Vendicare. Abbiamo guardato fenicotteri, grandi uccelli rosa. Mentre abbiamo guardato gli uccelli, abbiamo visto un serpente nero. Poi abbiamo fatto attentamente i nostri prossimi passi!

Black rat snake

When attentive becomes intrusive

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We recently visited a restaurant with exceptionally good food in Chiusi (Tuscany) yet we came away vowing never to go back. Why?

After we were shown to our table we were asked if we had ever been to the restaurant before. Our first fatal mistake was to say “no”. We were treated to a long homily in perfect English about the “philosophy” of the restaurant, the seasons, local produce, blending of flavours and everything “fatti a mano”. He still vaguely held my attention, but this was a large man who clearly enjoyed his own produce both from the kitchen and from the mouth, just a shade too much. We were finally handed our menus, but he hadn’t finished yet. every single dish on the menu was individually described down to the salt and pepper (which incidentally was on every dish). By now I really wanted to be left alone, but there was still the wine to be described. I quickly interjected that I would take the house wine. The “policy” of the house wine ensued. I tuned out and waited for a carafe of very acceptable Nobile de Montepulciano to arrive to soothe my troubled nerves.

When the food arrived it was really good with subtle and interesting new flavours, such as ricotta ravioli with ginger and lemon zest (and salt and pepper!), absolutely delicious. The trouble was that we were asked at least 4 times during each course if everything was alright. It would have been ….. if yer man could just get out of his own way he would have an outstanding restaurant!

When are two letters not two letters?

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We recently had a query with the revenue service and in the course of contacting the tax authorities to pursue this, we were told that the Revenue “no longer deal with PPS number that end with two letters“. The PPS number is your social security number in Ireland, that follows you for life. My wife’s number ended with two letters. So we contacted the Department of Social Protection (which is a story in itself!), they confirmed that the number needed to be changed and duly applied for a new PPS number. Of course changing this number mid-life has consequences and means the employer has to be informed and there is a risk that the old and new numbers won’t be correctly linked. It certainly adds cost to the administration in the DSP. 

The envelope containing the new number arrived yesterday and with some excitement my wife opened it to find …… a new PPS number that ended with two letters! Someone in the Public Service was actually paid to do this! Why?

Public Service an Oxymoron

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Recent changes in vehicle tax regulations here, meant that I had to declare my two sadly neglected and unused motorcycles as off-the-road before the end of this month. I had some questions about this, so I looked up the website of my local authority, Kilkenny County Council, to get the phone number of the road tax department in the helpful “contact us” section of their web page.

I dialled. It rang and rang, and rang ……. eventually someone picked up and answered “Kilkenny County Council”. “Could you put me through to the vehicle licensing department” I asked. “I’m sorry they won’t speak to the public on the phone up there any more” came the astonishing reply. “you’re joking, how do I find out about this”? I gasped. “I’m only the receptionist, but I’ll try to answer your question, I can sometimes catch them on their break and I get to know the right answers”. I praised his initiative, but unfortunately he couldn’t fully answer my query.

I’m not sure if these people were on a work to rule, or if some bright spark thought refusing to speak to the public was making them more efficient, but the net result is that I would have to drive a 74 Km round trip, find and pay for parking in Kilkenny and queue up at the road tax office to get my answer. I won’t be the only member of the public affected by this either, so the carbon footprint of this “initiative” is going to be impressive! If this is the sort of saving the Public Service is engineering to meet the Croke Park Agreement, then it’s time to outsource this to someone who knows what customer service is.