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  • Day26

    Cinque Fotografie-Napoli Day 1

    May 9 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We said good-bye to Sorrento this morning. Our accommodations there were really first-rate. I don't recall feeling so pampered in a lodging in quite some time. Initially our plan was to take a commuter ferry back to Napoli later in the afternoon and sample wines in Sorrento, but our innkeeper suggested that we instead consider hiring a car and going wine tasting near Mt. Vesuvius.

    We chose the latter, and it was a really wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Our driver, Fabio, picked us up in a Mercedes van, and he told us about the adjacent towns, including, Castellammare di Stabia, the one he grew up in. He shared with us that he was engaged to be married next year, and that his fiancé was in a post-doctoral program in Napoli. He shared that it is Italian custom to move to the town where the wife is so the would be relocating to Napoli when he married.

    On the way to the winery, we passed the entry to Pompeii and we arrived at Cantina Del Vesuvio, a winery run by the Russo family since 1930.
    The grounds were quite beautiful, and overlooked the Bay of Naples.

    We were escorted by our tour guide who was quite lively and funny. Her speaking cadence did remind me a bit of Gilda Radner's SNL character Roseann Roseannadanna. We learned that the vineyards required no irrigation due to the porous nature of the lava field that maintained the perfect humidity for the grapes.

    In our tour group, we chatted with a retired couple from Michigan who were touring Italy. They were from the Detroit area and had been postal workers. They talked about their previous visit to Portland and how much they liked it there.

    After the tour we enjoyed wine pairings with a nice meal of breads, meat, cheeses and spaghetti. The red wine reminded us a lot of Washington's Red Mountain area wines as they were rich and complex. We concluded our visit and reconnected to Fabio who took us to the neighborhood where we are staying.

    Since we arrived before our host had finished work, we drank cappuccinos and watched the neighborhood people greet each other and interact with hugs and kisses. I think that of the things that I like best about our travels is just watching the people, particularly the interactions with the children.

    Finally, we arrived at Francesco's home, a beautiful remodeled apartment that is well appointed and comfortable. "Ance" was quite welcoming and he oriented us to the space and he made several restaurant recommendations.

    After a long nap, we ventured out for a city walk and to sample Napoli's culinary contribution to the world: pizza. Napoli is known for thin-crusted pizza swimming in red sauce and olive oil and topped with less cheese than we're used to in the U.S. An online acquaintance suggested that we also try the fried macaroni appetizer. Picture macaroni and cheese with peas and meat rolled into a breaded deep-fried ball. I liked them, but Jim C wasn't a fan. It tasted a bit like a country fare offering.

    We laughed at the notion of trying an exotic beer to accompany our pizza. Among the offerings was Nastro Azzurro, better known to us as PBR. We both chose a Dutch beer, and we enjoyed our pizzas.

    I should report that we've had several people tell us to be on high alert about pickpockets and other targeting of tourists. While we're striving to approach our travels in the city with eyes wide open, we both enjoyed the gritty medieval feel of the streets and alleys that are peppered with cathedrals and monuments every few blocks. Like Catania, the drivers, cyclists and scooters race through the narrow streets, but we found it to be part of the charm of the city.

    We're calling it a night, and we're looking forward to telling you about Pompeii and the Herculaneum tomorrow. Ciao!
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    Jerry Orlando

    Your comment about the gritty feel of Naples brought back a memory. When I went to Italy in 86 with my college girlfriend we had flown from St Louis to New York to Rome, quickly hopped a train to Naples where our trip would begin. We got to the train station quite late and quite exhausted. A man basically attached himself to us and took at least two of our bags into his hands and said he would get us to our hotel. he wasn't a cab driver but what we would now consider to be an Uber driver. My girlfriend was freaking out that I let a stranger put us in his private car with our luggage and then proceeded to drive us through some very ominous and sketchy parts of the city. I was so tired and burnt out by that time I didn't care if he kidnapped us as long as he'd let me sleep. As it turned out he took us to our hotel and we were safe and he tried to smooth over her anger but she just wouldn't have it. The next day we woke up to the city bustling with activity and had a great couple days exploring the wild city of Naples that a European friend of mine in St Louis had told me was like the playground of Italy.

    Richard Isaac

    Hope you enjoy Napoli. Haven't been but have really enjoyed seeing it and hearing the dialect over three seasons of "My Brilliant Friend," adapted from the book.

    Linda Michalik

    sooo lovely