Archives for category: Italy

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There is nothing quite like an afternoon spent with a good friend, eating, drinking, talking nonsense, laughing, catching up and being silly. This was such an afternoon.

Do yourself a favour and go to Casa Labia in Muizenberg. It’s well worth a visit.

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Checked into Hotel Tiber, about 5 minutes drive from the Fiumicino Airport. Nice spot with views of the marina, the ocean beyond and the sound of seagulls and the ocean.

Since it’s our last evening in Italy, it was only appropriate that we gave ourselves a proper send-off … prosecco, as one does.

Supper was fettuccine with lobster and zucchini flowers. Beautiful.

All packed and ready to leave in the morning. It’s always bittersweet at the end of a good trip, but nothing tops arriving home, especially when home is Cape Town.

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On our last day in the Campagnia region, we decided to do something relaxing. In the town of Caserta, about 20 minutes away, there is the royal palace of King Charles of Bourbon. Apparently it was built to rival Versailles and ended up being bigger, with the largest garden/park in Europe. The garden is enormous and it took us 2 hours to walk only two-thirds of the way up the central walkway and back down to the palace. The palace itself is incredibly opulent.

As you know my stories come in pictures, so if you want history and facts, you know how to google 🙂

Parting thought: I’m glad I don’t have to clean that place.

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Naples. Words that spring to mind? Filthy. Busy. Colourful. Frenetic.

We travelled into Naples by train. Good thing too. The streets are crazy busy. Unless you want to lose your sanity in the first 5 minutes, you need to negotiate the city on foot.

Everywhere you look are vendors trying to sell things … sunglasses, handbags, cigarettes, a stolen iPhone, jewelry. Scooters whizz past you. There is a buzz of voices, the smell of car fumes and the sense of urgency to get somewhere at high speed.

When you enter the historic centre, you enter a rabbit warren. Dirty cobblestoned alleys, small shops, pasticcerias, pizzerias, laundry hanging out of windows and no sun. It’s quite an experience.

After Pompeii yesterday, it was interesting to go the Archeological Museum and see the items which had been uncovered during excavations. Surgical instruments, glassware, ceramics, kitchen utensils, lamps, coins, writing instruments, pots, pastry pans & moulds, urns and even petrified fruit and food still in their plates and pots. They also have an extensive collection of incredibly well preserved frescoes which were recovered from the site and are on display.

Of course, if you come to Naples, you have to eat pizza. The best pizza is in Napoli, they say. So we went in search of Di Matteo on Via dei Tribunali. It’s not to be missed! A short wait outside for a table … because I was loathe to eat my pizza on a dirty sidewalk … and we were ordering the Margherita di Bufalo. Fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil. Beautiful! The price of 4 Euro is ridiculously cheap! And no, I did not share my pizza. I smashed the entire pizza all by myself, with juice running down my chin and happily licking my fingers clean.

An interesting snippet from the Lonely Planet: Naples was for a long time the prostitution capital of the continent, and it’s reputation drew people from far and wide, giving new meaning (in the days when syphilis was rife) to the phrase “See Naples and die”.

My list for Naples has been checked … wander the historical centre, see the archeological museum, eat the pizza … and then get out alive.

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Another delightful meal enjoyed at Il Cortile … yes I ate too much, had far too much red wine and that cherry liqueur finished it all off beautifully. I will be sleeping soundly tonight.

Antipasto: Caprese … I can’t tell you how amazing the mozzarella is and the tomatoes are bursting with flavour. The best I have ever tasted, hands down. Just add basilico and it’s a dish fit for kings.

Primi: Parpardella with a meat & orange reduction. Not a typical Italian dish, but delicious.

Secondo: Beef carpaccio with lemon juice & olive oil, steamed green beans & rocket.

Dolce: Baba … a traditional dessert with Polish influence dating centuries back. This dessert is drowned in liqueur. In a good way.

Then we were treated to a shot of liqueur made with “fruit from the mountain”. I definitely tasted cherries. It knocks your breath away. I think it’s a “mampoer” of sorts. Delightful.

Another incredibly simple, incredibly delicious meal.

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Walking through the remarkably well preserved ruins I was struck with a sense of lives lived and lost. People walked these streets, went about their business selling goods, artists painted, politicians did their underhanded deals, authors, poets and musicians composed their works, children ran and played. Life happened.

Brief history:
The Vesuvian area suffered a violent earthquake in 62 AD. Reconstruction started in Pompeii immediately and 17 years later, on 24 August of 79 AD, renovations still incomplete, Vesuvius erupted, burying Pompeii under ash and rock. It was rediscovered in the 16th century, but exploration didn’t begin until 1748 under the King of Naples, Charles III of Bourbon and has continued systematically into the 19th century up until the most recent works of excavation and restoration.

Tomorrow I will be seeing the items excavated at the Archeological Museum in Naples. The site visit today will give good perspective.

That’s a big tick off my bucket list. Pompeii … check.

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