Docked in Ortona Harbor: Today we took buses to L'Aquila, which translates as "the eagle." It is in the Apennine Mountains and is an earthquake survivor. They had the "big one" in 2009 and are still trying to recover from it - many construction sites in downtown. It killed over 300 - no joke.
As you might surmise, it was the old "stone-on-stone" buildings in the city center which sustained the most damage. The newer buildings are built to earthquake resistant standards and came through with little trauma.
En route we saw a town which anchored the eastern end of the Gustav Line across the peninsula in the same way Monte Cassino anchored the western end. Like Monte C it was destroyed in the fighting and has been rebuilt.
We had our Grand Circle 'patented' home-hosted meal in L'Aquila and our group of seven drew the lucky household. Isabella, her husband Paulo, and her kid sister Laura were our hosts in a modern apartment on the outskirts. She works as a translator and travel agent, he in his family's hotel, and the cute sister is doing a masters in neuroscience. All three had decent, if basic, English.
They fed us the whole Italian festive meal, consisting of antipasti, bread, wine, followed by lasagna, followed by pork steak and salad, followed by excellent tiramisu, and finally a choice of 4 liqueurs. We couldn't eat it all but most was good and plenty and we felt we should try so as not to offend our hosts. It was over the top, basically a potlatch experience.
As I will tell GCCL when the questionnaire arrives, the main drawback to this trip has been the ship's parking places in port. These have all been a loooooong way from the town center, in some cases a mile or so.
They need to run a shuttle or at least set up a taxi pool so we could ride to town, sightsee on foot, and then return to ship by taxi. I'd spend the $$ gladly in order to avoid long boring walks on breakwater roads.
The lack of transport has kept me from going ashore a couple of days, and it didn't need to do so. When we've had a bus at the gangway, I've gone every time save one, and that one included a long walk at the site of the cave houses.
Tomorrow we dock in Pesaro and bus to Urbino, a university town I've actually heard of. We've only had one night of rough water - 2 nites ago - and I won't mind if we don't have another.