Thursday, September 04, 2008

Italy - Rome & Naples

Day 1
We arrived in Rome around 10am, exhausted of course. Wait .... backtrack. We arrived in the airport and I got my first cup of Italian coffee! I was so excited, and a bit nervous ordering. Its been so long since we've been out of the country, I was really intimidated.

We decided to walk the 1.6 miles (I looked the distance up on google maps) from the train station to our hotel for fun because we were so excited to see the city. Our route took us through Piazza Venezia with its gigantic monument and we were quite impressed. We arrived sweat soaked (it seems we spent most of our trip in this state) and checked in to our hotel which was right near the Pantheon.

The day was a tired blur, but we explored the area, got some killer gelato (lemon & fig sorbet for me) and saw the pantheon, which I apparently did not take a single picture of. After a 2 hour nap in the afternoon we dragged ourselves to dinner in the Campo di Fiore and I had the saltiest, most expensive (10 euro or $15 USD) dish of Amatriciana I've ever eaten.

Crazy Euro. That thing is all over the place. It was 1 euro = 1.67 USD when I researched the trip and now its down to 1 euro = 1.42 USD. So who knows what it actually was while we were there.

Day 2

We started by scaling the piazza venezia monument we had seen the day before and got an awesome view of the forum & palatine hill.

Then we went on down to the colosseum and wandered around for a bit. Our favorite part was the model of how they had little elevators to lift the scary animals up. Quite ingenious.

We took this picture special, just for Crafty Mama. (this shot used to be on her blog header. well not this shot, but one exactly like it with her and her husband. except it was better than ours. read on.) I love how awkward Kyle looks, focusing on holding out the camera rather than our romantic kiss. And how his bangs are sticking straight up. Thank goodness I look awesome. Guess I won't be making it my blog header anytime soon.
Did the colosseum, palatine hill and the forum, all by lunchtime! Lucky for us, August is Rome's slow season, so there were no lines, just lots of hot sun. Kyle & I are weird when we travel, we like to see the famous things but we sort of blitz through them unless there are interesting signs to read. We never buy the audio guides. Luckily we are alike in that way.

We had awesome lunch at a salad place, mine had lettuce, arugula, artichoke hearts & lots of huge chunks of parmigiano. mmmm..... We also had wine with lunch, we were trying really hard to fit into the European lifestyle. What we didn't realize is that a liter of house wine is quite large, especially to go with salads for lunch. It arrived and we were both shocked at the huge jug. Thank goodness for my other favorite European tradition - the post lunch espresso. mmm.... perked me right up.

In that state, we wandered down the street in high spirits and happened upon....

It was actually quite exciting because once again the lines were only 15 minutes and I had read to expect 30 min - 2hrs. It was so dark and I think we were both surprised that the Sistine Chapel itself was completely unremarkable except for the ceiling. It was more like a warehouse with painted walls/ceiling. And we were supposed to be quiet, it was packed and the guards kept shushing everybody. But lovely nonetheless.

Finally we wrapped up the day with a visit to everyone's favorite big church. I almost didn't get to go in because my dress scooped in the back. I was so careful to wear one that covered my shoulders, but it just wasn't good enough. Luckly my hair and purse covered things ok and we made it inside where I spent 30 minutes wandering around with my purse around my neck, hanging down my back.

That night we ate at a cute place near our hotel that just has one menu per day, whatever they've cooked up. We were stuffed silly with all the courses it included, but I can't remember that much about it. So I'll wait till we get to the meals I loved to go into full detail.

Day 3

In the morning we took a train down to Naples. When we popped out of the metro station for the first time, it was pretty wild. Reminded me a lot of Egypt and definitely a lot messier/crazier than Rome had been. We walked the 15 minutes to our hotel, dumped the bags and went to find our first Neopolitan pizza, something I have been dreaming about for practically my whole life. (or at least the last 15 years)

We stopped at the first place we found that my book described as "quite good". I knew exactly what I was going to order (margherita - tomatoes, basil & buffalo mozzarella) but Kyle was instantly overwhelmed by the sea of choices, all in Italian.

I started reading some descriptions to him and had too look up one of the words "acchiughe" which apparently is "a sauce of mashed anchovies, garlic, olive oil & parsley". The pizza came with the acchiughe sauce, olives, capers and oregano and I thought it sounded intriguing - like something I'd love to taste, but not neccessarily order. Unfortunately what came out of my mouth was "hmm... that one looks good". So the waitress shows up and Kyle panics & orders the one I said looked good. Whoops. It didn't even have cheese on it.

It did have lots of anchovies & they pretty much permeated the entire pizza. We both do like anchovies, and Kyle was a really good sport about eating most of it and then finished mine because they were huge! And mine was fabulously delicious, everything I had dreamed of.

Next it was off to buy my Christmas "creche" or Nativity Scene as we call it. No psycho squirrels and S'mores baby Jesus for us, apparently Naples is very famous for its nativities and it is quite the Italian tradition to put one up every year. We found a perfect one that I am in love with. Here is a picture of the street we bought it on, which is lined with shops selling everything you could possibly need to create an entire christmas village with the manger scene in the center.
It amazed me how all the main roads in the historical area of Naples looked so big on the map and then when you get there, they are these tiny tight alleys. The architecture was absolutely fabulous. Other than food, what I love about travelling is the feel of a place, its character & the way the buildings lend to that. And I especially love it when the old & new mix in a sort of messy way, where people are still living side by side in & with old historical buildings. So yes, I loved Naples, despite its noise & stenches.


We took a huge long walk that day, down to the waterfront, then up a fenicular to see a view of the city. We took a little rest at a cafe and Kyle bumped the table and spilled my $6 glass of prosecco. Jerk. I was too tired to even bother buying another one.

Gorgeous. We found our way back down and wandered around trying to find a couple restaurants that sounded good from our guidebook. I was so picky about where we ate because I really wanted every meal to be fabulous. Unfortunately, every reccomended place in rome & naples was closed for August while the owners were on holiday. It drove me crazy. So after a couple dead ends we straggled into a place that looked busy and had a pretty good dinner. By this time we were eating dinner at 8 or 9 pm and we actually loved it since it gave us extra time to sightsee.

Stay tuned... Capri is up for tomorrow...


Andi Mae said...

I am so impressed that you already started posting about your trip! I love all your pictures- especially the kissing one ;)- and your writing about your adventure is really beautiful, Kari! You are making me miss Italy so much...

Andrea Elliott said...

It sounds like you had a fabulous time! I have never been to Italy and am dying to go! I can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!

Shauna said...

More, more, more, more!!!

I love it. Post more! :)

amy said...

so fun to get a glimpse of your and kyle's adventure! i'm so happy that you got to go together and i can't wait to see more!

Vale said...

I was just impressed as I read through your most recent post of what a carefree writer you are. Your style is easy to read, and it seems so uninhibited. I often feel that my writing has to be more poetic and reflective. You with your easygoing way just post your thoughts: humorous, lovely, simple and fun. It is easy to picture you in each of these places because of the fun photos and your descriptive writing. I look forward to reading more.

Kelsie said...

So I found your blog and you make me want to go back to Italy--BADLY! Looks like a great trip and can't wait to read more....

Jeff G said...

Nice picture of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel! I took a very similar one discreetly pointing my iPhone at the ceiling. Is that how you did it also? Jenny put the picture on this blog post.

Sounds like you guys are having a great time. We were really particular about where we ate too. We'd often walk for an additional hour and a half just seeing if we could find a place that looked better than the restaurant we were about to walk into.

Unknown said...

very nice blog!
to those who might be inspired by it to travel to Rome I suggest to visit vacation rentals in rome to plan your trip and find an your ideal accommodation...ciao!