Friday 7 July 2023

All too soon it is Time to go Home

Going home is not something I like doing but it does give us a chance to look back on the past weeks, and to start thinking of our next trip.

We delighted in walking part of the Via Francigena. We didn't expect so much rain and sticky slippery mud but the challenges and sense of achievement were undoubtedly a highlight. Enjoyable memories never to be forgotten.

Lecce was a total surprise. A clean, elegant and surprisingly charming city with interesting food and friendly people.

Naples is a starkly different place; noisy, dirty, chaotic traffic, non stop ... but we can't help liking it. Back in Rome for half a day, we could not believe how quiet it was!

My window seat allowed me to see a last few interesting sights.

Foce del fiume Tevere and Fiumicino

The Gulf of Taranto - Italy's instep

Flying over Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee


I may not like coming home but the sight of Melbourne at night is simply spectacular.

Monday 3 July 2023

Postcards from Rome

This morning I had my last sfogliatella and cappuccino breakfast before catching the train back to Rome. In little over an hour we were at our hotel and planning our few hours left before we fly out.

The most important thing was that we always throw a coin in the Trevi fountain to guarantee our return. I chose not to this time but Kel did.

The other thing was to visit Saint Peter's Basilica and especially the tomb of Pope Benedict XVI.

No photos were allowed in the Crypt where the Popes are entombed.

We walked eight kilometres to accomplish that plan. Here are a few 'postcards' from our afternnon in Rome.

Tribunale - the city courts of Rome

Just another wall in Rome

Just another picturesque intersection of laneways

Gelato time at The Trevi Fountain

The Pantheon has been free all these years but now it costs to enter. Long queues snaked around the piazza. 

We stopped by the church of  San Luigi to have another look at Caravaggio's paintings on the life of Sant Matthew.

How picturesque is this?

Or this?

The Castel Sant' Angelo is the mausoleum of Hadrian. It has since been used as a fortress, castle and a museum.

With all the rain they have had in Italy this year, the Tiber 
(Tevere) river is running high.

Having lived on scant rations the past week or so, tonight being our last night in Italy we found a nice outdoor restaurant called 'Eat, Drink and Love'. We did eat and drink, and we loved it!!

The latest thing in aperitivi or cocktails -  St. Germaine Hugo Spritz, commonly called Ugo. Similar to Aperol Spritz but using St. Germaine instead of Aperol. It included mint and lime with the prosecco and soda.

Perfect penne with a local red wine.

A perfect tiramis├╣ too.

We finished off with limoncello. It was still about 26 degrees, a perfect night for our last.

Sunday 2 July 2023

Sunday in Naples

 Today was our last day in Naples, in fact our fifteenth day over two summers. We had a couple of new places to explore and planned to have an early dinner up at Vomero, a leafy suburb in the hills.

Looking at the map I discovered that the scary street Via Lavinaio that starts at our corner actually runs almost all the way to the port. When we walked part way down there on our first evening it was like a bazaar with stalls spilling out onto the road, two way traffic and no paths. Today is Sunday and all the little shops were closed and there was little traffic.

The walk was very pleasant and we came out at Piazza del Carmine. A crowd was chatting outside the Basilica Sanctuario Santa Maria del Carmine Maggiore and the lights were on so we ducked in for a look. Kel noticed that Mass was starting soon with chorals so we stayed. What a special time. Initially begun in 1200, completed in the mid 18th century, the church is Neapolitan Baroque with art works and many artifacts pertaining to its sanctuary status. A massive organ produced great music to which the cantor sang, I could understand much of what the priest said and the peace and quiet was, as they say, a blessed relief.

Leaving the church we avoided the main road along the port by taking little alleys. I came across another street art football champions mural, with a shrine to Maradona as God. Sadly the close up photo was a failure.  Our gelati cups declared Napoli Champions and even the train tickets celebrate their 3rd Champions of Italy win.

It was quite a hot walk and we eventually came to Castel Nuovo, an art installation by Michelangelo Pistoletto,  Piazza Trieste e Trento, Teatro San Carlo and the Galleria.

From there we detoured through little streets of very up-market shops and restaurants until we reached the Bay of Naples, not the port but the resort and 'beach' section. We walked along the Caracchiolo to Partenope section to Castel dell' Ovo, past the Fontana, and all the time looking at the volcano Mount Vesuvius. It seems to always have a cloud over it giving the feeling that it is smouldering.

It was well past lunch time by now but Sunday lunch is a big deal in Italy, mostly they go to Nonna's for a family dinner but more often now they go to restaurants. We didn't find anything to suit us. We turned back inland and came to Piazza Plebiscito which is a huge square with important buildings but seems characterless to us.
This first photo is the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace of Naples. The facade was completed by 1616, the building had various residents until 1734 when Charles III of Spain arrived and it became one of four royal residences of the Bourbons.

The big loop completed we set off on the next planned part of the day; late afternoon drinks and then dinner at Vomero. 

The Central Funicular is the easy way to get there but we found our restaurant of choice to be closed. We tried several others until a waiter explained that they all close after Sunday lunch. That sure messed up our plans.
Near the funicular station we found a small bar but as I had basically eaten nothing all day I wisely settled for Coke 'senza zucchero', accompanied by small bowls of chips and olives.

So home we went on the Metro, where the little bar just at our front door was open and had a table for us. Chips, olives and peanuts to accompany the Aperol Spritz. That was a good thing because all the eateries around were closed.

There are always anomalies in Italy. It seems that there are no hard and fast rules on opening hours. One thing is certain, in the south they abide by many older rules, especially relating to Sundays.

Buona Domenica!