Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Southern Italy

Due to lightning in Charlotte, we were almost 2 hours late taking off which put us behind schedule when we arrived in Rome. We checked into Rhome Terminal which was nice and convenient. After cleaning up we went to the National Museum of Rome. (I got gelato on the way.) We had never been before. If you appreciate ancient sculpture you would like this museum. It also had mosaics, some painted rooms moved there, and the history of Rome coinage.

From there we took the metro to the Coloseum area. We had

planned just to go to the Forum and Palatine Hill but the

ticket included the Coloseum so we did all three. Teresa

decided to play hide and seek in the Coloseum without telling


We walked all the way back on the Palatine Hill to overlook

the Circus Maximus.

For dinner we went to nearby Meid in Nepols. We shared a

salad which was okay, Teresa had a spicy salami,

mushroom, artichoke, and black olive pizza. Mine was

anchovies. The crusts were good, stingy on the toppings- not

a threat to Croatia’s crown. Teresa had house wine, I had an

Eidenger Yrweisse beer, very good. Back to the room for jet

lag night.

In the morning after breakfast, we metroed toward Borghese

Villa Park where we wandered before our 11:00a.m. time for

the Borghese Gallery Museum.

There I took 327 photos, over 30 of them of Apollo and

Daphne. The museum was sumptuous, the art exquisite. Our

allotted stay was 2 hours and we used (and enjoyed) every


From there we walked to the Spanish Steps. The steps were

under repair and off limits but the fountain was finished.

Teresa topped off our water bottle.

On the way to Trevi Fountain we stopped in a few churches,

caught a marching band welcoming a visiting dignitary to the

Parliament; saw an Egyptian obelisk; and what we thought

was Trajan’s Column but apparently was not.

Trevi Fountain was, of course, crowded but the sun was

shining bright. Perfect day to be walking in Rome even with

sporadic sprinkles.

We headed up Via Corso to Victor Emmanuel monument and

went through the various ruins northeast of it including the

Traino, Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar Forums. We

finally found a kebab place with some help from a girl

hawking a different restaurant. After kebabs we went in a few

churches on the way to St. Peter in Chains. We visited so

Teresa could see Michelangelo’s Moses. She had indulged

me all my Bernini’s earlier. More churches on the way to St.

Maria Maggiore. That church was closed for some event so

we took pictures of the outside and Teresa once again

topping off our water bottle. Back to our room.

After cleaning up we metroed to Piazza Barberini where we saw the Triton fountain then walked on to the Trevi Fountain then by the Jesuit Church and The Pantheon, both closed. A short visit to Piazza Navona then searched out Cul de Sac, a restraunt that Christine had recommended. I had lasagna then meatballs with mashed potatoes. Teresa had Roman ravioli and a Greek salad, all excellent. Teresa spoke heresy by saying the tomatoes in her salad tasted better than gelato.

We back tracked through Piazza Navona, The Pantheon and

Trevi Fountain and had very good gelato just before getting

back on the metro.

The next day was travel to Naples day, first train, 20 minutes

delay had us arriving close to noon. We metroed to our room

and headed out. Walked to the Via Toledo area where we

checked out the neighborhood, grabbed pizza for lunch then

metroed to the Archaeological Museum. It had some very

nice pieces and apparently had improved the way they were

displayed. Many of the original sculptures, mosaics and

frescoes brought from Pompeii and Herculaneum were

brought to this museum.

Touring the museum took about 2 ½ hours. Back to the Toledo area where we sauntered and both had very good gelato. Back to the room.

For dinner we went to Trattoria del Golfo. I ordered fried

anchovies and Sea Bass “Grass” style. Teresa ordered

Gnocchi and a grilled vegetable plate. We were brought fried

baitfish and bruschetta on the house. Teresa wouldn’t eat the

baitfish so she ate the bruschetta. I ended up eating 3 dishes

of fried seafood. It was all delicious. The Sea Bass was deep

fried but encased in salt so the was rock hard and had to be

cracked open by the waiter. Teresa enjoyed most of her meal

but got tired of the gnocchi quickly.

In the morning we walked to Piazza Dante to begin our

walking tour, courtesy of Rick Steves. Lots of churches. First

Gesu Nuovo which was richly decorated, then to Santa

Chiara. We went in a few others before reaching Santa


We saw the statue of the Nile which marks the center of old


We headed to Cappello Sasservo to see the Veiled Christ but

didn’t stay to go in because of this:

Next to San Lorenzo and then the Duomo. We then

backtracked to Piazza Montento, splitting a pizza on the way,

to take the funicular to the Castle of St. Elmo and the

Monastery/Museum of San Martino. Vesuvius was visible

from the viewpoint and is in some of our pictures. After our

tour we took the funicular down and the subway to Postel

Nuovo which we went through. We strolled through the Santa

Lucia sector- got some gelato along the way. We found the

promenade and happened upon the huge Piazza Plebiscito,

with the Pantheon imitation, Dome of St. Francis.

We headed back along Via Toledo, toward our room,

stopping in at the Galleria. That street was mobbed.

For dinner we went to Hosteria Toledo. I had Ziti Ragu,

grilled swordfish and grilled mushrooms. Teresa had fried

cod with capers, tomatoes and olives and a mixed salad. 

Teresa won as hers was delicious. My ziti could have used

some oregano. The swordfish was a bit overcooked and the

mushrooms too spicy.

After dinner we promenaded some, ate some pretty good

gelato and headed in.

In the morning we caught the slow train to Sorrento. We had

quite a cast of characters in our little area. Teresa made

friends with six teens after she stopped one from lighting up.

They seemed very interested in sharks and alligators when

they learned we were from Florida. About half way through

the trip, the six of them got escorted off the train for not

having tickets.

Also on the train were a family and another man and boy.

They apparently had tickets as they were not thrown off but

once in Sorrento we saw them all separately begging.

Sorrento is a beautiful resort town, lots of shops, lots of

views. After walking around awhile, I got a wonderful

Snickers gelato which ended up being my lunch. Teresa’s

lunch was a few licks of my cone.

We walked down to the beach which consisted of docks with

lounges and umbrellas. We weren’t dressed for swimming

but did check the water temperature which was not bad.

Back to the room.

For dinner I had a four cheese pizza, Teresa had spaghetti

and a tomato mozzarella salad. We then wandered and

bought some ceramic house numbers. I had gelato, Teresa


In the morning we had a nice breakfast of chocolate

croissant, bacon and scrambled eggs at the restaurant

providing the service to our B & B. I got a Coke Zero in the

bargain. Then straight to the train station to catch the bus to

the Amalfi Coast . We decided to go to Amalfi then

immediately took the bus up to Ravello, a small town that

was home to some famous names.

Back down to Amalfi to tour through that town. We lunched

on sandwiches, I also had gelato.

We then took the ferry to Positano where we got in our exercise for the day, climbing up to the bus stop. The bus brought us back to Sorrento by 6pm.

We went to OuGigino for dinner, very good. I had Spagetti

Amatraciana and duck with potatoes. Teresa had a salad.

We spoke for some time with a Korean-American family. The

son had just graduated from college. We both had gelato


The next day was our longest travel day; train from Sorrento

to Naples, picked up our rental car, and drove across the

boot. On the way we stopped at Castle del Monte. The castle

was never used but is picturesque and mathematically


Carmin had a bad day directing, and I had a bad day driving

but we made it to Ostuni by 5:30.

After cleaning up we walked around town and finally found

the old town with the old buildings and better restaurants.

We ate Suppere & Sapori. We decided to split two dinner set

meals. The first was bruschetta with cold cuts, cheeses, and

vegetables and olive oil of the region; then we had pasta with

tomato sauce, grilled meats and grilled vegetables. I had

some great chocolate and crema gelato after.

In the morning we headed west from Ostuni and first went to

Cisternino. Good part of the day was dedicated to finding

Trulli, the homes with conical roofs put together without

mortar. These started being erected in the 13th century and

up until the 17th. One theory is they were created as a tax

dodge, as they could dissemble their house when the tax

man came around. Others claimed the architecture came

from Ottoman invaders.

From Cisternino to Locorotondo, and then to Alberobello

where we stayed for quite awhile. It had a Trulli museum but

also had two sections of town, one filled with commercial

Trulli, the other residential.

June 8th was the last day of school so kids hung around

water fountain, filled balloon or large bottles with water and

doused each other with them. I bravely washed our cherries

when this was going on. 

We then headed to Matina Franca where we saw Piazzas

and the churches. We also had good Kebabs.

Off to Lecca. We arrived a little early because we cut Taranto

out of our itinerary, as that would have made us very late.

Carmen and I both did very well and we found our B & B,

Prestige. Steve our host gave us a run down of the city and

then we were off. First things first, I had gelato. We then

toured a fraction of the 52 churches in the old town. Went to

some piazzas, saw the remnants of a Roman amphitheater

and walked around the outside of the huge but largely

ignored castle. We went to the market on the way back to our


Teresa won dinner with her delicious roast lamb, vegetables

and salad. I had linguine with mushrooms and grilled king

prawns which were a little too much work. We both had

gelato on our after dinner stroll.

In the morning we headed to Gallipoli on the west coast of

the heel of the boot. We saw fishermen repairing their nets,

caught the fish market, and then toured the castle, open to

the public since 2014. We then walked through old town “The

Island”, and visited the cathedral and a couple of other


After leaving we decided to make a detour to Santa Maria de

Lucia on the southern tip of Italy. We saw the lighthouse, the

cathedral and ate lunch.

We then went north along the coast road and stopped at

Oturno. We toured that castle, watched practice runs for the

Jet Ski World Championship, to take place the next day, saw

the cathedral, part of the town and headed back to Lecce to

clean up.

In the morning we drove to Matera, quite an ordeal to find a

parking space. Matera sits on limestone. From ancient times,

the people carved out caves to live and later used the carved

out rock to build. Over the centuries improvements were

made to the cave dwellings but up until the 1960’s a large

part of the population lived in upgraded caves with no

electricity or plumbing. The government stepped in after a

book exposed the conditions and built homes and moved the

folks out of their caves. The cave dwellings were called Sassi

and the town is full of them.

We first went to an archeological museum with very little


We then trod down to the river to cross to the more primitive

side. We climbed to the top but went left instead of right so

made it into only one Sassi before a thunderstorm

threatened. We climbed down and back up and made it to

the church of Monty Python before it came down.

We waited out the storm and then went to two churches

carved out of the limestone (no pictures allowed), before

going to the underground cistern. 500 years ago wealthy

citizens had it built to store water for their use. They

plastered the walls to stop the porous limestone from

absorbing the water.

We then went to the third Sassi church, the biggest of the

three, and I snuck some photos.

We then went to the Duomo which was sumptuous, photos

not allowed but everyone, including me, was taking them.

Back to the room.

We walked down among the Sassi for dinner. At 9pm we

were the first at the restaurant. Teresa had bruschetta and

crapiata, a bean soup. I had a mozzarella roll with tuna and

rocket then roast veal, all very good. Got some good gelato

on the way back.

In the morning we headed west to Paestum. Carmen took us

on a “Green” road which was very picturesque. We took no


Paestum had been an occupied site since paleolithic times.

Finally the Greeks came and settled there as it was an

important port on the trade route. It must have prospered as

they erected huge temples to Athens (not Cesare) to Hera

and to Apollo (not Neptune)

The Greeks were overrun by the nearby Laconians but the

Laconians adopted Greek culture. The Romans came next

and the remains of the city belong to them. The Romans

didn’t believe in destroying temples so they remained. The

final conquerors were mosquitoes as malaria drove everyone

off and allowed the site to remain unchanged for over a

thousand years. Christians did grab parts of the temples for

building supplies but all of the columns of the three temples

are intact.

When we arrived we went first to the museum. The museum

was very modern, lots of exhibits, including ancient friezes

from the temples and paintings from the tombs. There were

English explanations everywhere- though a bit scholarly they

were very informative.

We split a salad and pizza for lunch.

We took Rick Steves walking tour of the site, first Athena’s

temple, then Apollo’s, built in 450 B.C., about 50 years before

the Parthenon was built and thought to be the model for it;

and then the first temple on the site built in 550 B.C.

One-fifth of the site has been excavated but you can clearly

see the layout of a Roman city.

Back to Naples where we returned our car at the train station.

We had planned for our hotel to be close by so we decided to

walk. We got all the way to directly across from the hotel

when a teenager ran past and yanked Teresa’s gold turtle

necklace off her neck. Teresa dropped everything and gave

chase, yelling “Stop, Thief” - no help. The bastard ran down

some alleys where Teresa was afraid to follow.

The Hotel “Palazzo Caracciola Napoli” was very nice and the

staff very apologetic.

After cleaning up we walked quite a bit before finding a

restaurant, but it was good. I had bucatini alla amatraciano

and fried cod. Teresa had pasta bolognese and a mixed

salad. We sat next to a young couple from Prague and

enjoyed talking to them. I had gelato on the way back.

In the morning we first went to Porto Nuovo which was an old

Roman gate attached to the Roman walls.

We then walked around looking for the fish market, instead   

stumbling upon a flea market which included a fish market.

Calvin Klein t-shirts were 2 euros- FIRM!

Back to the hotel to check out and get our taxi to the airport

for our flight to Sardinia.

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