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Day Three

      Today we headed to Vieste, located on the tip of the Gargano peninsula. A unique medieval town dating back centuries to pre-Roman times, originally a Greek colony. Our driver, Giuseppe, expertly maneuvered the bus over windy, mountainous roads bending around many hair-pin turns. The views were beautiful! On the way, we stopped for a self-guided tour of Hadrian’s Villa which is now just ruins. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an exceptional architectural legacy of the great Roman Emperor Hadrian. Built between 117 and 138 AD as a retreat for Hadrian from Rome, the villa incorporates the architectural traditions of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt covering approximately a square kilometer. There were beautiful pools surrounded by statues, baths, fountains and living quarters. At one time, the villa was surrounded by landscaped

gardens and vineyards. As we walked thru the ruins it was easy to imagine the immense wealth, power and grandeur of the Roman Empire. We arrived in Vieste, and were dropped off by the waterfront. We were introduced to this charming town while walking to our hotel. Lucky for us, they were having a waterfront festival called Vieste in Love. The town was totally decorated with hearts everywhere. The winding streets, crooked alleyways, stone steps and terraced houses all merge together in the town which sits atop a huge rock overlooking the Adriatic sea. We had a lovely group dinner outside the hotel and walked down to the festival’s live music show at the town public beach area and enjoyed a relaxing glass of wine.
Hadrian's Villa – Scroll or use left and right arrows to see more images below...
Day Four

      We took an amazing early morning walk on a stone pathway that meanders around the old town down to the waterfront. We came across an art installation of giant sculptures of hands called Building Bridges by Lorenzo Quinn. After breakfast, we met the group for a spectacular boat ride to visit the limestone grotto caves. Old weathered, wooden fishing frames jutted out over limestone cliffs that were dotted with watch towers. The towers were built in the Middle Ages to warn locals against regular attacks from Saracen pirates. They sent smoke signals during the day or lit fires at night to signal impending danger. Because the tide was just right, our amazing boat captain fearlessly drove the boat right into the caves. We never thought it would fit and it was thrilling! The way the sun interacted with the limestone in the caves, the reflecting colors of the ocean water and the sky peaking down through exposed holes in the ceiling was dazzling. We got dropped off onto a beach for an hour, where we could swim, walk the beach of polished stones or have a caffe at an outdoor coffee bar. There were also a few small caves big enough to walk into. In the afternoon, we shared a local specialty sandwich called Paposce (see food page). we hiked up a hill to see The Old Castle of Vieste which overlooks Castle Beach, not open to the public, but worth the hike. From that viewpoint, we could see a huge white limestone monolith named Pizzomunno. Took a relaxing swim in the Adriatic Sea before meeting the group for appetizers and prosecco overlooking the water.

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