Everything went well on the flight from Los Angeles to Rome – well, the seats were tight and narrow, there was a lot of turbulence, the food was adequate, and the flight was incredibly long.  Other than that, it was great.  We sat next to a nice couple who were on their honeymoon and traveling to Greece before coming back to Rome – Danilo and Mallory. There’s a chance we might bump into them before heading back to LA.

The taxi ride to the hotel was incredible!  We passed so many significant historic sites along the way within the city of Rome – La Città Eterna.  It is truly a monumental city with an incredible amount of iconic sites.  We’ll try to document them during our 4 days here.

Our hotel room was ready and very nice.  We immediately set about a quick tour of the city so we wouldn’t fall asleep too early.  As a result, we passed and visited the following sites:

 

Church at the top of the Spanish Steps
Church at the top of the Spanish Steps

 

View from the top of the Spanish Steps looking at the crowds below
View from the top of the Spanish Steps looking at the crowds below

 

Looking up to the top of the Spanish Steps
Looking up to the top of the Spanish Steps
Another view of the Spanish Steps
Another view of the Spanish Steps

 

We followed the crowds – and there were plenty – to the Trevi Fountain.  Rich and I had been there several times before but had never seen the amount of crowds like today.  Apparently, a few cruise lines arrived today as well and the familiar groups with umbrella handling leaders were everywhere.

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain

 

On to the Pantheon where we had a couple of beers to calm our nerves.  It was nice sitting in front of one of my favorite monuments in Rome.  We’ll come back tomorrow and I’ll have several pictures of the interior – it’s amazing.

 

The Pantheon
The Pantheon

 

We passed the Vittorio Emanuelle II monument on our way back to the hotel,

 

Vittorio Emanuelle II
Vittorio Emanuelle II

 

We were extremely tired by the time we got to the hotel and opted for a light meal for our first night in Rome.  How about a Pizzeria?  It was perfect and called La Bruschetta – family owned and right around the corner from the hotel.  Although today was a relatively warm day – probably in the 70’s – tonight was a little brisk and we opted for dining inside the small pizzeria.  A carafe of the house wine, a caprese salad with flavorful tomatoes and mozzarella, and a very thin crusted pizza – fantastico!

 

DSC00339

DSC00340

 

That’s it for tonight….. it’s been a very long day but we’re so happy to be here in Rome.  We’ll have more adventures to share tomorrow.

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a day!  And what a city!  Rome is incredible….. and I forgot how wonderful it actually is.

We got an early start and headed directly to the Pantheon but we passed so much along the way.  We had to pass the Trevi Fountain on the way so I took a few more shots – this time with less people standing in the way.

 

D8C_2172

 

D8C_2174

 

 

D8C_2175

 

D8C_2180

 

 

We then passed the store where priests, bishops, cardinals, and even the pope get some of their garments.

 

D8C_2191

 

Before we got to the Pantheon, there’s a small square with a beautiful obelisk in front of a magnificent church.  Rome is filled with so many churches and they appear just when you go around a corner with no expectations at all.

 

D8C_2192

 

 

D8C_2195

 

This work was completed by Michelangelo.
This work was completed by Michelangelo.

 

D8C_2206

 

D8C_2207

 

We then headed to the Pantheon which is probably one of the most structurally significant buildings in the world – just about perfect.  There’s a hole in the center of the ceiling which lets in enough light and rain when it occurs.  Although it’s very difficult to photograph because of the lighting, here are a few of the shots I took.

 

D8C_2212

D8C_2213

 

Notice the angle of the light coming in – it’s truly amazing.

 

D8C_2216

 

 

D8C_2228

 

The drainage holes on the floor when it rains.
The drainage holes on the floor when it rains.

 

The view from inside looking out - those are two columns outside in the highlight.
The view from inside looking out – those are two columns outside in the highlight.

 

D8C_2228

 

There’s the light from above reflected on the walls.

 

D8C_2230

 

 

And finally – I secretly took a picture of these two centurions who were asking for photo opportunity monies.  They caught me stealing a shot but I pretended not to understand….. it works in so many situations.

 

D8C_2235

 

And then on to the Piazza Navona which is not far from the Pantheon.  The Piazza is large and typically hosts all sorts of vendors, particularly at Christmas time.  It also is the site for performers on occasion.  It has a beautiful fountain in the center of the piazza – Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers).

 

D8C_2242

 

D8C_2245

 

D8C_2246

 

I love the picture above because it exposes the opposite end of the square through the center of the sculptures.

 

D8C_2248

 

D8C_2258

 

 

We next headed to the ancient part of the city where the Forum and Campidoglio are located.   We first passed this interesting small museum, actually a church, containing nothing but hanging formal dresses.

 

D8C_2272

 

And here are some of the ancient structures that are left.  This first is the archeological area of the Portico d’Ottavia.  One of the British tourists passing us by said that Sophia Loren lives at the top of the structure – I’m not sure whether I should believe that or not.

 

D8C_2273

 

 

We then crossed the Tiber River onto an island where we saw the rapids and waterfall within the river.

 

 

D8C_2292

 

 

 

D8C_2297

 

 

Passing back over the river we then spotted this structure – Santa Maria in Cosmedin.  Does this look familiar to anyone?  Those who know Pasadena will recognize the similarity to Saint Andrew Catholic Church in Pasadena – it was an exact replica of this structure.

 

D8C_2299

 

A small picture of Romulus and Remus.

 

D8C_2302

 

And the relook at the immense structure of the Victor Emmanuel monument – it’s massive.

 

D8C_2308

 

 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guards.

 

D8C_2310

 

D8C_2312

 

D8C_2316

 

 

 

And finally some shots of the ancient area of Campidoglio and the Forum.

 

D8C_2318

 

 

D8C_2320

 

D8C_2321

 

D8C_2322

 

D8C_2323

 

D8C_2327

 

D8C_2329

 

D8C_2333

 

And finally a few shots of the Colosseum – we tried to get in but the lines were incredibly long.  We’ll try again on another day.

 

D8C_2342

 

D8C_2345

 

D8C_2347

 

I now appreciate the 5 years of Latin that I took in high school.

 

We decided to take Metro back to the hotel since we’d done so much walking today.  Metro was packed!!  Of all of the cities where we’ve taken Metro, this was by far the most crowded – packed in like sardines!!  And of course, I had to stand next to the guy sneezing and coughing – probably just infected with the Bird Flu.  Just kidding.

 

Tonight we ended a very fruitful and fun filled day with dinner at Nino’s – a restaurant we visited many years ago.  Here’s what we had:

Caprese salad:

DSC00341

 

Fettucine Bolognese:

DSC00342

 

Osso Buco:

DSC00343

Filet of Sole:

DSC00344

 

All extremely tasty.  I had to end the evening with a gelato at a nearby gelateria on the Spanish Steps – pistachio of course!

And finally a few shots of a very crowded scene at the Spanish Steps.

 

DSC00346

 

DSC00349

 

Buona Notte a Tutti!!

 

 

 
We started off early today since we wanted to go to the Vatican for the Papal Audience – although we didn’t have any tickets.  We took Metro as far as we could and again the Metro was jam packed.  When we got off, it was obvious where everyone was going….. walking as a crowd to the Vatican.  We were standing way in the back but at least in the middle of the Piazza.

 

D8C_2348

 

 

D8C_2349

 

D8C_2351

 

 

When we first got there, there was a clear view of the Basilica. After standing for about an hour, more groups came in to fill the void between us and the ticketed guests.  There were moments of slight rain and you could see that the umbrellas were going to be a problem – at least as far as view of sight.

D8C_2353

 

D8C_2354

 

All of a sudden, the large digital screens (4 across the Piazza) showed Pope Francis and the crowd went wild.  We couldn’t tell from which direction or where he was, but the screens clearly showed he was on his way – standing on some sort of vehicle.  When he passed us, we were able to see him but unfortunately I couldn’t focus properly to get a clear picture – too many umbrellas in the way.  At the same time, it started to pour and people fled for cover.  The poor Pope was in the open and happily waved to the crowd.  The rain only lasted about a half hour but the timing couldn’t have been worse.  Here’s the shot leaving the Piazza after the rain had stopped.

D8C_2360

 

 

We then walked to the Castel Sant’ Angelo where we visited the museum and saw some incredible views of the Vatican and the surrounding area.

 

D8C_2363

 

D8C_2364

 

D8C_2372

 

D8C_2377

 

D8C_2379

 

View of the Vatican with the Audience crowds in the forefront.
View of the Vatican with the Audience crowds in the forefront.

 

The Victor Emmanuel Monument from afar.
The Victor Emmanuel Monument from afar.

 

Castel Sant' Angelo
Castel Sant’ Angelo

 

We walked for what seemed like hours and miles – our feet hurt and we had walked so many steps and stairs that we could hardly breathe.  We finally landed at the Piazza del Populo and had a couple of drinks.  Here are a few pictures from the Piazza.

 

D8C_2393

 

D8C_2394

 

D8C_2395

 

D8C_2399

 

Back to the hotel we dragged our sorry butts…  and a well deserved nap.  Our legs were aching.

 

We had dinner reservations at Hosteria da Pietro at 8pm – what a wonderful local Roman trattoria.  The food was excellent and it was a very tiny restaurant – about 10 tables at most.  The server was very courteous and spoke enough English for us to order everything.  We had a great meal.

 

Fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese.
Fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese.

 

Spaghetti puttanesca
Spaghetti puttanesca

 

Veal scallopini Marsala
Veal scallopini Marsala

 

Veal saltimbocca - prosciutto and sage on top
Veal saltimbocca – prosciutto and sage on top

 

That’s it for tonight – another great day in Rome.  Tomorrow we’re planning to revisit the Vatican and enter St. Peter’s – we’ll see how that goes.

 

A domani!!

 

 

 The plan today was to go back to the Vatican ….. and that we did.  We took Metro as far as we could – yikes, cramped doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.  We got off at Ottavian and then realized that it was pouring….. back down into the Metro station where the vendors were making a hay day of selling umbrellas.  But it was raining too much to venture into the open.  We waited about 45 minutes – thunder and all.  It was also a lot cooler than we had experienced up to this point – downright cold!

We made our way to the Vatican only to find that the lines for admittance to the basilica were amazing – they followed the contour of the colonnade – probably about a thousand people.  There are now new security lines that one must go through.  As a result, we only stayed outside but caught some nice close-ups.

D8C_2406

D8C_2407

 

D8C_2409

 

D8C_2411

D8C_2412

D8C_2414

 

D8C_2418

 

We then left the Vatican and walked to Trastevere which is the area of Rome across the Tiber River where there’s a more relaxed kind of feel.  We went into the main church, Santa Maria in Trastever.  This one church shows the power and money that Rome leveraged throughout its history.  This area of Rome was beautiful.

D8C_2419

 

D8C_2423

 

D8C_2424

D8C_2426

D8C_2428

D8C_2431

D8C_2433

D8C_2435

D8C_2436

 

We made one last visit to the Pantheon and had lunch in the square.  Here are a few shots of the Pantheon from the front.

 

D8C_2440

 

D8C_2441

 

Back to the hotel for a short rest and getting ready for dinner.  Tonight we went to Sapore di Mare, a wonderful seafood ristorante where their fresh seafood is proudly displayed at the entrance.  Although the restaurant was quite inconspicuous from the street, it was very cozy and elegant inside.  We had a great meal with the following dishes.

 

Shrimp wrapped with thinly sliced and very flavorful eggplant - this was incredible.
Shrimp wrapped with thinly sliced and very flavorful
eggplant – this was incredible.
Gnocchetti with shrimp in a tomato sauce - outstanding.
Gnocchetti with shrimp in a tomato sauce – outstanding.
Sole sauteed with lemon and olive oil
Sole sauteed with lemon and olive oil
John Dory with rosemary and olives
John Dory with rosemary and olives
A smart  sorbetto to cleanse the palate
A smart sorbetto to cleanse the palate
Tiramisu
Tiramisu

 

On our way back to get a taxi, I got these shots of the nighttime view of the Pantheon and surroundings.

The beautiful obelisk with elephant
The beautiful obelisk with elephant

DSC00365

One of the side facades of the Pantheon
One of the side facades of the Pantheon

DSC00369

DSC00371

 

And finally…. after a very racey taxi ride back to the hotel, we had a night cap at the hotel – Sambuca Romana on the rocks.

DSC00374

 

We leave tomorrow for Sorrento….. we get the car at 9am right around the corner.  The challenge will be finding our way out of Rome given all of the interesting turns that every road takes.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed and my GPS constantly engaged.  I’ll have more from Sorrento tomorrow.

Arrividerci Roma – we’ll be back in another week or so.

 

We left Rome this morning and left right on schedule.  Our car is a Nissan small SUV – stick shift and diesel…. I’m not sure whether that’s a good combination or bad.  There was a point, however, when leaving Rome that I was on an incline, in major traffic and finding it very difficult not to back into the vehicle behind me – I think the Roman behind me was even more concerned.  All went well and the drive to and through Naples occurred without a hitch.  The toll, by the way, was 17 euros – whatever happened to $2 or $5?

We took the road to Sorrento which surprisingly was very busy in the middle of the day on a Friday.  Through many sharp turns, uphill sections, and many tunnels, we came to an abrupt stop.  What was the trouble?  Nothing…. just traffic.  This was worse than any situation on the Pacific Coast Highway during the worst holiday traffic jam.  Besides, there were so many tour buses on the road that it made it difficult sometimes to even stay in the lane.  We finally arrived at our hotel which is on the edge of the Bay of Naples – with an incredible view of Mt. Vesuvius.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see much of it today because it was raining quite a bit – and very cold.  It’s supposed to be this way until Sunday.

Until then, here are the pictures I did take.

 

View from our hotel room
View from our hotel room

 

You can barely see the base of Mt Vesuvius from our room
You can barely see the base of Mt Vesuvius from our room
Another view of Vesuvius
Another view of Vesuvius

 

Some of the swimming area and beverage area below
Some of the swimming area and beverage area below

 

View south from our room
View south from our room

 

D8C_2456

 

Looking up the cliff from the beach below
Looking up the cliff from the beach below

 

View from the beach - the yellow hotel on the left is ours
View from the beach – the yellow hotel on the left is ours

 

We ended the day with a nice, light meal at a local cafe – no pictures tonight.  We’ll continue tomorrow with the hope for less rain and more photo opportunities.

Here are two pictures of Mt Vesuvius this morning.

D8C_2469 D8C_2475

A domani

 

 

 

 

 
Today we took the boat to Napoli – about a 40 minute trip across the bay.  The weather started out wonderfully but the sea was still a bit rough – particularly the last few minutes before docking.  I stood outside and took these pictures in transit.

Heading out from shore
Heading out from shore

 

Looking back to shore
Looking back to shore

 

The isle of Capri in the distance
The isle of Capri in the distance

 

The isle of Capri saluting the Italian flag
The isle of Capri saluting the Italian flag

 

Vesuvius ahead
Vesuvius ahead

 

Looking at the port of Napoli
Looking at the port of Napoli

 

We quickly got our bearings and headed out to the city – a very big and bustling city.  Most of the buildings along the main thoroughfare look to date back to the late 19th or early 20th centuries.  Here’s a look;

 

D8C_2503

 

D8C_2504

 

We somehow found our way into the old part of the city…. filled with very narrow streets, motorcycles zipping by, and an enormous amount of knick knacks – you name it and they’ve got it.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve already captured the new pope in small figures and other images.  Here’s a look at the streets of Naples.

 

I think Pope Francis got my name wrong
I think Pope Francis got my name wrong

 

Narrow side street in the old town
Narrow side street in the old town

 

Structure spanning a narrow lane
Structure spanning a narrow lane

 

We happened to experience a wedding in process at the St. Paul Basilica – of course, I had to capture a few pics.

Inside the basilica
Inside the basilica

 

D8C_2519

 

D8C_2520

 

Close up of the bride and groom
Close up of the bride and groom

 

Not bad for not being an invited guest, huh?

There were plenty of food products along the way.  One of my favorites – clams or vongole – is shown in water tubs.  These are the smallest, yummiest little clams you’ll ever experience.

D8C_2522

 

More alley shots.

D8C_2523

And finally good old Victor Emanuel – evidently loved all over Italy.

D8C_2530

 

Because the weather by this time was a little iffy, we took the train back to Sorrento – the Circumvesuviana – a local train making many stops along the 1 hour 15 minute ride.  It also makes stops at Pompeii.  We returned to Sorrento in time to capture another wedding – the Italian women were dressed to the nines.

 

Maid of honor in red coming out of a Porsche
Maid of honor in red coming out of a Porsche

 

Bride with her father
Bride with her father

 

Looking into the church - but I wasn't inside
Looking into the church – but I wasn’t inside

 

This almost looks like several scenes from the Wedding Crashers, doesn’t it?  We didn’t get any food by the way.

 

Time for a few hours of rest – no nap today – and then it’s time for dinner.  The concierge recommended Da Emilia Trattoria which was located in the main harbor of Sorrento – within a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  Actually everything in Sorrento is pretty walkable as long as you can handle the steep grades.  This one was easy going down but quite an effort coming back up.  Here’s the view looking down on the restaurant and a few pictures of the meal.

Da Emilia
Da Emilia

 

Wonderful combination of fried calamari and shrimp.  The shrimp were not peeled so a little hard to eat easily.
Wonderful combination of fried calamari and shrimp. The shrimp were not peeled so a little hard to eat easily.

 

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

 

Spaghetti alle Vongole (Clams)
Spaghetti alle Vongole (Clams)
Nightime shot of Da Emilia
Nightime shot of Da Emilia

 

And finally, a beautiful sunset from Sorrento.  Check back tomorrow for our adventures to Pompeii.

DSC00394

 
We started early today with our tour at 8am.  We were to meet at the parking lot nearby and then first go to Herculaneum and then Pompeii.  As we were waiting for the bus, we started talking to a threesome who were very friendly.  It turned out that Suzanne works for Kaiser in Pasadena and her husband and friend work as pharmacists for Kaiser as well.  We ended up spending a lot of time with them and enjoyed their company.  Just goes to show you how small the world is.

Anyway, the bus arrived on time and our tour group was 22 – a very reasonable amount.  Our tour guide was Raphael and was very knowledgeable about both sites.  The bus ride to Herculaneum was about 45 minutes with little traffic along the way.  Herculaneum is in the direction of Naples and not far from there.  Herculaneum was impacted by the same eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD but was impacted differently than Pompeii.  Because of the lava flow, this town had better preserved frescoes than Pompei but was much smaller.  Amazingly, the town was right in the middle of the present day city – in fact, 3/4 of the ancient city is still underneath the new city.  Here are some of the pictures I took there.

 

Initial view of Herculaneum
Initial view of Herculaneum

 

D8C_2560

 

Entry road into Herculaneum
Entry road into Herculaneum

 

Inside one of the main houses
Inside one of the main houses

 

Shops along the way
Shops along the way

 

Some of the artwork inside
Some of the artwork inside

 

D8C_2593

 

D8C_2595

 

 

Fresco of Hercules
Fresco of Hercules

 

D8C_2621

 

Before entering Pompeii, we had a group lunch at a nearby trattoria – Tiberius.  We had a choice of pizza, spaghetti, tuna salad, or fish with accompanying drinks and dessert for only 13 euros – the food was good.  Rich and I both had the tuna salad.

And then on to Pompeii….. what an incredible afternoon!  Pompeii was much, much larger than Herculaneum and to me was much more impressive.  There was a lot of walking and uphill exploring but the experience was well worth the effort.  Raphael was able to explain many of the details that would have been lost without a guide.  The ancient Romans were experts at the use of water and how to transport it effectively within the city.

 

D8C_2634

 

Entrance to Pompeii
Entrance to Pompeii

 

D8C_2639

 

Pompeii was much larger and appeared more like a city
Pompeii was much larger and appeared more like a city

 

The Great Theater
The Great Theater

 

One of the main roads
One of the main roads

 

The roads consisted of large stones and you could see instances where the chariots had carved their wheels into the stone.  In addition, because of the rain and often wet streets, they devised stepping stones across the streets so that people’s sandals didn’t get wet.

Stepping stones
Stepping stones

 

D8C_2666

 

There were many more remaining columns in Pompeii than in Herculaneum.

 

D8C_2671

 

D8C_2672

 

Inside one of the buildings
Inside one of the buildings

 

There were several points at which actual human bodies incased in stone were shown.  Apparently, most of the people died from smoke inhalation and not necessarily as a result of the lava flow.

 

D8C_2677

 

Another body with Raphael in the background
Another body with Raphael in the background

 

D8C_2683

One of the most impressive sites was the forum – a large expanse which was the center of activity in Pompeii and highlighted the proximity to Mt. Vesuvius.

 

Vesuvius as seen from the Forum
Vesuvius as seen from the Forum

 

The Forum
The Forum

 

D8C_2699

 

D8C_2705

 

D8C_2706

 

D8C_2710

 

D8C_2714

 

The temple of Apollo
The temple of Apollo

 

You can see that it was a beautiful day with very few clouds.  It was continually a challenge taking photos because of the number of people who would get in your way.  It was a very long day and everyone in the group was exhausted by the time we got back to the bus.  We were back at the hotel by 5pm.

A little rest and it’s almost time for dinner.  Before dinner, we had a couple of drinks in the hotel bar but on the balcony outside the bar.  It was a beautiful end to the day and I captured some of the sunset from the balcony.

 

DSC00403

 

If you look carefully, you can see a small boat caught in the reflection of the sun.

We went to Re Foods for dinner – it’s a strange name and the restaurant was very new, it appeared.  Very modern looking with nice decor.  Here’s what we had:

 

Rich had prociutto with parmesan and olives
Rich had prociutto with parmesan and olives

 

I had tuna
I had tuna

 

We share the penne with ricotta
We shared the penne with ricotta

 

Rich had the steak with peppercorns
Rich had the steak with peppercorns

 

I had a fish called ricciola - amberjack
I had a fish called ricciola – amberjack

 

If this seems like a lot of food….. it was.  We were stuffed.

Today was a great day and we saw so much.  It also was the warmest day we’ve had since we’ve been in Sorrento.  No jackets today!  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

 
Today we took the ferry to Capri – roughly 35 minutes from the port of Sorrento.  The boat ride was very calm and quick.  I took a few pictures leaving Sorrento and arriving in Capri.

 

The coast of Sorrento
The coast of Sorrento

 

Our hotel on the far left
Our hotel on the far left

 

Arrival on Capri
Arrival on Capri

 

It took us some time to get our bearings and discover the funicular to the actual town of Capri.  The funicular takes you far above the bay and directly into the little Piazzetta where we first sat down.  Although we had started with a perfectly sunny morning, by the time we reached our first cafe on the Piazzetta, it started to rain. Oh no…. our only day in Capri and it’s raining???  No worries, it only lasted 30 minutes or so and the sun came out …… and so did the crowds of people.  I can only imagine what August in Capri must be like because today was jam packed with people.  Long lines to get tickets and plenty of tour groups with their followers.  Nonetheless, it was a very pleasant town with some very high end stores along the narrow streets.

 

Piazzetta
Piazzetta

 

Cafe life on the Piazzetta
Cafe life on the Piazzetta

 

Famous clock
Famous clock

 

View from the funicular landing
View from the funicular landing

 

Hillside above Capri
Hillside above Capri

 

After strolling the streets and having saltimbocca sandwiches in one of the cafes, we decided to take one of the small buses to Anacapri – the other town on the island.  There was a long line to wait for the bus and then they jammed people into this small little bus.  There were very few seats so most were standing.  I positioned myself in the back corner of the bus so I could take pictures through an open window.  I had to be careful not to stick my lens too far out of the window because I could actually touch the tree leaves and building walls along side the bus – very scary.  I took some shots while trying to keep my balance.

 

Another bus passing by - notice how small the bus is - it carried about 40 people
Another bus passing by – notice how small the bus is – it carried about 40 people

 

Traffic behind us
Traffic behind us

 

The incredible view from the bus
The incredible view from the bus

 

D8C_2774

 

We finally reached Anacapri which is the highest point on the island.  We walked around a bit but then became concerned about reaching our boat back to Sorrento on time.  The line for the bus ride back to Capri was already quite long.  Back on the bus and back to Capri.

We had an enjoyable few hours on Capri and bought a few souvenirs.  Here are some pictures of the return.

The marina
The marina

 

Leaving Capri
Leaving Capri

 

D8C_2787

 

Capri in the distance
Capri in the distance

 

After a few hours rest, it was time for dinner.  First a few pictures of the sunset from our hotel balcony.

DSC00413

 

DSC00414

 

We had dinner at L’Antica Trattoria, a few steps from our hotel.  We had a great dinner that was fairly reasonably priced.

 

Red prawns breaded with a sardine sauce - delicious
Red prawns breaded with a sardine sauce – delicious

 

Stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta cheese
Stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta cheese

 

Ravioli with seafood
Ravioli with seafood

 

Spaghetti with ragu and goat cheese
Spaghetti with ragu and goat cheese

 

Cod prepared in tempura
Cod prepared in tempura

 

Pork loin with savoy cabbage
Pork loin with savoy cabbage

 

Cripy cone stuffed with double lemon cream
Cripy cone stuffed with double lemon cream

 

That’s all for today.  We have one more day in Sorrento before heading to Ravello on Wednesday.

 

Today we took the bus to Positano….. I would have preferred to see Positano with a lot of sun and clear blue skies, but we had to settle for cloudy conditions.  I know…. stop complaining.  It was still beautiful.

The bus ride was an experience…. all 60 minutes or so.  Very winding roads, narrow curves, and steep cliff drops on the sea side.  There were times when the bus had to stop, cautiously move forward and pass an oncoming bus by only an inch or two.  Welcome to the Amalfi Coast.  First, a few shots from the bus.

Oranges along the way that you could almost reach out and touch
Oranges along the way that you could almost reach out and touch

 

Initial view of the coastline
Initial view of the coastline
View from the bus
View from the bus

 

Aaahhh... the rugged coastline from above
Aaahhh… the rugged coastline from above

 

View from the bus stop
View from the bus stop

 

After leaving the bus, we made our way down the long street to the beach – it was much worse coming back the other way.  There were plenty of tiny shops along the way but not a real town to speak of.  Here’s what we saw at the bottom.

Look at the size of those lemons...... limoncello is in their future
Look at the size of those lemons…… limoncello is in their future

 

D8C_2855

 

D8C_2857

 

D8C_2858

 

D8C_2859

 

D8C_2860

 

We stopped for a beer and watched as the sun darted in and out of the clouds.  It wasn’t a cold day, it was just a bit cloudy.  While drinking our beers, I spotted this salamander eating a few greeneries in front of us.

D8C_2864

 

Of course we had to have lunch in Positano and chose Chez Black right on the beach.  We had a very nice lunch with a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  The food was wonderful.

 

Burrata with fresh tomatoes and basil
Burrata with fresh tomatoes and basil

 

Pizza with spicy salami
Pizza with spicy salami

 

Lasagna
Lasagna

 

After lunch, we hiked back up the road to the bus stop – a very hefty hike.  We caught the bus just in time but caught a few lasting shots of Positano.

D8C_2871

 

D8C_2873

 

We came back to Sorrento…. isn’t there a song by that name???  We rested a bit and then got ready for dinner.  The hotel recommended a restaurant called Vela Bianca.  Although the restaurant was just a 1/2 mile or so away, a van came to pick us up along with a British couple going to the same place.  The restaurant was great – plenty of seafood but other things as well.

Shrimp with rocket salad and tomatoes
Shrimp with rocket salad and tomatoes

 

Parma ham and mozzarella
Parma ham and mozzarella

 

Penne in a shrimp and mushroom sauce
Penne in a shrimp and mushroom sauce

 

Local fish in a lemon sauce
Local fish in a lemon sauce

 

Veal in a lemon sauce
Veal in a lemon sauce

 

The restaurant also had some classic old photos of Sophia Loren on the wall.  When we were finished with dinner, we and the British couple walked around the restaurant admiring the photos – everyone else had already left.  Here are my last photos to end the blog tonight.  Tomorrow we’re off to Ravello.  Buona notte!

 

DSC00431

 

DSC00432

 

DSC00433

 

DSC00434

 

DSC00435

 

We left Sorrento around 8:30 and started our journey to Ravello.  In order to get to Ravello, you must pass Positano and Amalfi both and then head up the steep mountainside.  The drive took us about 1 1/2 hours – torturous and horrific.  It was the worst drive I’ve ever experienced.  As long as we were in mountainside and cliffside parts of the road, there was no problem – hair pin curves and all.  But went we came into the little towns – the two lane road was riddled with parked cars on either side, motorcycles, pedestrians, and the occasional bus.  There were actually times were I had to collapse my mirrors (thank god I knew which control to use) in order to pass by – tunnels and all.  I usually stayed in 1st gear and occasionally advanced to 2nd gear.  We made it without an incident although I was surprised nothing happened.

Here is the view along the Amalfi Coast drive.

 

Along the drive
Along the drive

 

We arrived in Ravello and checked into the hotel – the hotel is beautiful and sits on the top of the mountain with views of the sea.  We got the only room with a balcony – I love it.

 

Tower of the Duomo
Tower of the Duomo

 

Piazza in front of Duomo
Piazza in front of Duomo

 

Duomo
Duomo

 

D8C_2895

 

D8C_2897

Steps up to the hotel
Steps up to the hotel

 

 

Looking down from the top
Looking down from the top

 

The hotel is beautiful.  We had lunch at the hotel with a spectacular view.

 

Martini bar at the hotel
Martini bar at the hotel

 

View from the hotel looking down on the Amalfi Coast
View from the hotel looking down on the Amalfi Coast

 

Hotel swimming pool
Hotel swimming pool

 

View of the hotel
View of the hotel

 

More photos of the hotel and surrounding sites.

 

The swimming pool
The swimming pool

 

Here's our balcony and the view below
Here’s our balcony and the view below

 

D8C_2917

 

DSC00443

 

DSC00444

 

DSC00445

 

That’s it for tonight.  I’ll have more pictures tomorrow when we go to Amalfi.

Buona Notte!

Before describing our trip to Amalfi, I wanted to share a few photos I didn’t include in last night’s blog entry.  There are some pictures of the night scene at the hotel, the panoramic view at night, and fireworks that occured as well.

 

Hotel view at night
Hotel view at night

 

View of the coastline below
View of the coastline below

 

D8C_2946

 

D8C_2960

 

D8C_2955

 

Today we took the bus to Amalfi.  I was happy that I didn’t have to drive the winding road from Ravello to Amalfi.  The bus does it much better and I can just relax…. although the ride is still a bit scary at times.  It took us about 30 minutes to get there.  Here are a few shots.

Houses built into the cliffs
Houses built into the cliffs

 

Amalfi Duomo
Amalfi Duomo

 

Amalfi Duomo
Amalfi Duomo

 

We paid 3 euros each to visit the Amalfi Duomo or cathedral – it was well worth the entrance fee. It was unexpectedly beautiful inside and extremely old.

 

Inner courtyard
Inner courtyard

 

Inside the crypt
Inside the crypt

 

Inside the crypt
Inside the crypt

 

The cathedral
The cathedral

 

D8C_3011

 

Ceilings of the cathedral
Ceilings of the cathedral

 

The altar
The altar

 

We had lunch in a cafe on the Piazza Duomo and then caught the bus back to Ravello.  Before leaving, however, we walked to the small jetty to take some picture of the beach and coastline.

D8C_3023

 

Looking from the beach toward the cliffs
Looking from the beach toward the cliffs
Rich with Amalfi in the background
Rich with Amalfi in the background

 

Our Italian tour guide we picked up along the way
Our Italian tour guide we picked up along the way

 

View of Amalfi
View of Amalfi

 

View of Amalfi
View of Amalfi

 

Amalfi is much bigger than Positano and not quite as quaint.  At the same time, Amalfi has the beautiful cathedral and a lot more visitors.

We returned to Ravello and rested a bit.  Ravello is a very small town that really prospers from the daily visitors arriving each day.  By nine o’clock, the streets are fairly deserted with the occasional couple walking back to their hotel.  Dinner tonight was at a local trattoria, Cumpa’ Cosimo.  The restaurant is busy and run by an Italian mama who makes sure that everything is good.  What a great experience!  We got so much more than we ordered because they wanted us to be pleased with dinner…. and we were.  I was looking at a red wine for about 40 euros and the owner said “I’ll bring you something better and it’s only 25 euros”

 

A local red wine
A local red wine

 

Here’s the rest of the meal…..

 

Caprese salad with zucchini and parma ham
Caprese salad with zucchini and parma ham – not your ordinary Caprese

 

Fettuccine bolognese - the pasta was wafer thin and the ragu was very flavorful
Fettuccine bolognese – the pasta was wafer thin and the ragu was very flavorful

 

Scallopine of veal in lemon sauce - very tender and the sauce was delicious
Scallopine of veal in lemon sauce – very tender and the sauce was delicious

 

Pork chop
Pork chop

 

Fresh porcini mushrooms
Fresh porcini mushrooms

 

Mixed vegetables - the waiter said we needed more vegetables after almost finishing our meal
Mixed vegetables – the waiter said we needed more vegetables after almost finishing our meal

 

Lemon sorbet in a frozen lemon
Lemon sorbet in a frozen lemon

 

Limoncello - of course!
Limoncello – of course!

 

We had a very nice day traveling in and around Ravello today.  It was a beautiful day with warm temperatures and nice pleasant breezes.  Let’s hope this continues for the rest of the trip.

Buona notte!

 

Today we spent the entire day on the hotel property.  Had breakfast and then laid out by the pool – it was a fantastic day; warm with mild breezes blowing and the view of the sea below.

Poolside
Poolside

 

Pool area
Pool area

 

DSC00509

 

DSC00520

 

We had lunch at the Belvedere restaurant – the more casual dining area – and then went back to the room to rest.  Since this would be our last night, we had reservations at Rossellinis for dinner – a fantastic restaurant overlooking the view.  In addition, they had a small group with mandolin and guitar, playing mostly italian classics.  It was truly a memorable evening.  We didn’t have the prix fixe but ordered a la carte hoping to have less food – wrong…..  At the same time, it was all great.

 

DSC00527

 

Place setting and Fontalloro Felsina from the Chianti region
Place setting and Fontalloro Felsina from the Chianti region

 

Pre hors d'oevres.... from the chef.  Tuna croquette.
Pre hors d’oevres…. from the chef. Tuna croquette.

 

I had the scallops appetizer - with green apple and frozen cheese
I had the scallops appetizer – with green apple and frozen cheese

 

Rich the lobster appetizer with tomato infused bread
Rich had the lobster appetizer with tomato infused bread

 

We both had the lobster pasta - the shells are filled with lobster meat
We both had the lobster pasta – the shells are filled with lobster meat

 

I had a combination of veal belly with red shrimp tempura
I had a combination of veal belly with red shrimp tempura

 

Rich had the John Dory with assorted vegetables
Rich had the John Dory with assorted vegetables

 

Pre dessert - strawberry cake with sorbet
Pre dessert – strawberry cake with sorbet

 

Dessert - frozen strawberry puree with pistachio ice cream
Dessert – frozen strawberry puree with pistachio ice cream

 

To end the evening – it was about 11pm at this point – we both had a cappuccino martini – the specialty of the bartender made with frangelico, kahlua, bailey’s, and amaretto and the right proportions of chocolate and cream.  Yum!

 

DSC00548

 

It was an unforgettable evening that was truly magical.  The food was fantastic, the music evoked emotions and the service was stellar.  All of this with the most incredible view possible.  Ravello was a very restful and enjoyable part of our vacation.  Tomorrow we head back to Rome.

 

Back to Rome…..

We left Ravello at 8:30am and easily found our way through the winding roads back to the Naples-Rome highway.  It took about 3 and a half hours with special instructions from the Ravello hotel on driving directions into Rome. We were able to find the Hertz car rental location without even a wrong turn…. it was truly amazing!

I didn’t have any entries for last night since we spent most of the day in the car.  Today we went to the Capitoline Museum.  The Capitoline Museums are a group of art and archeological museums in the Piazza del Campidoglio – immediately adjacent to the Victor Emmanuel monument and also to the Roman Forum.  Here are a few pictures to remind you of the adjacent sites.

Victor Emmanuel Monument
Victor Emmanuel Monument
Victor Emmanuel Monument
Victor Emmanuel Monument

D8C_3091

Roman Forum
Roman Forum
Roman Forum
Roman Forum

 

The museums were very interesting and filled with archeological findings as well as a bounty of Roman and Greek sculptures.

D8C_3109

D8C_3110

D8C_3114 D8C_3115

D8C_3122 D8C_3127

 

And the original Romulus and Remus…..

D8C_3131

D8C_3134

 

The following statue of Marcus Aurelius is the one that is seen in the Piazza of the Campidoglio but that one is a replica – this is the original…..

D8C_3139

 

 

We then walked back to the hotel and stopped at the Spanish Steps along the way.  I took this picture to demonstrate just how many people hang out at the Spanish Steps….. can’t imagine what’s it like in the height of the season.

D8C_3145

 

We also stopped into the church at the top of the Spanish Steps.

D8C_3150

 

D8C_3152

 

And finally…. we had dinner tonight at the Ristorante Girarrosto Toscana – it was a great local restaurant with a very broad menu.

Prosciutto and melon
Prosciutto and melon

 

Penne all'arrabbiata
Penne all’arrabbiata

 

Tornedos alla Rossini
Tornedos alla Rossini

 

Cotoletta milanese - veal cutlet
Cotoletta milanese – veal cutlet

 

Vin santo with biscotti
Vin santo with biscotti

 

I think we pissed off the waiter tonight because we didn’t leave a tip.  It’s really very confusing now when you need to leave a tip and when you don’t.  Evidently he expected one and we didn’t deliver…… oh well, he didn’t deliver great service either.  It’s a good thing we’re not going back any time soon.

Tomorrow is our last day in Rome and we’re hoping to get into St. Peters Basilica.  We’ll get up early and hope for the best.

Buona notte!

Here’s where we had lunch today….. across that same fountain at Piazza Navona but without Mario Lanza …….

 

We began the day early by headtailing it to the Vatican.  Since it was so early, I got the opportunity to capture a shot of the Spanish Steps without the crowds….. not sure that happens very often.

D8C_3153

 

Today we walked about 7.5 miles total….. back and forth to the Vatican and then to Piazza Navona and back.  All of it wasn’t on level ground by the way.

Before we got to the Vatican we passed by Piazza Cavour.

Piazza Cavour
Piazza Cavour

 

Piazza Cavour
Piazza Cavour

 

We then entered the main street into the Vatican…. again lacking many of the huge crowds we’ve seen in the past.  We actually got into the Basilica within 10 minutes having gone through security.

D8C_3161

 

Here are the shots from outside the doors to the Basilica.

Looking up at the Basilica from outside
Looking up at the Basilica from outside

 

Looking down the piazza
Looking down the piazza

 

Looking up at the main entrance to the Basilica
Looking up at the main entrance to the Basilica

 

Here are the shots I captured inside the Basilica.  Although we had both seen this before, we forgot how immense the structure is and how impressive it is.

Michelangelo's Pieta - now a sizeable distance and protected by glass
Michelangelo’s Pieta – now a sizeable distance and protected by glass

 

D8C_3169

 

One of the ceiling frescos
One of the ceiling frescos

 

D8C_3174

 

D8C_3175

 

A mass taking place in one of the many chapels.  There were 3 going at the time we were there.
A mass taking place in one of the many chapels. There were 3 going at the time we were there.

 

D8C_3178 D8C_3182

 

D8C_3183 D8C_3185 D8C_3188 D8C_3190 D8C_3198

 

D8C_3201
Love this picture with the light flooding in.

 

And then of course I had to capture the Swiss Guards.

D8C_3207

 

 

We then walked back to the hotel – changed because you weren’t allowed to wear shorts in the Basilica – of course, we saw some but they were interrogated frequently.  On to lunch at the Piazza Navona where we had our last pizzas in Rome – molto buono!!!

Our last night in Rome, we had a wonderful dinner at Ristorante Tullio – we had been there many, many years ago and were again very impressed by dinner.  We first sat next to two women from Boston who were very interesting and then next to two men from Moscow here on business – structural engineering, they knew Worley Parsons and of course had a lot of common discussion with Rich.  Here’s what we had:

Roman artichokes - delicious!
Roman artichokes – delicious!

 

Fettuccine with ragu - the pasta was very delicate.
Fettuccine with ragu – the pasta was very delicate.

 

I had sole - prepared very simply and delicious
I had sole – prepared very simply and delicious

 

Fagiolinis
Fagiolinis

 

Rich had veal roast with potatoes
Rich had veal roast with potatoes

 

Millefoglie - otherwise known as Napoleon.
Millefoglie – otherwise known as Napoleon.

 

That’s it.  As I’m finishing this, we’re watching a concert on TV with Placido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli performing famous arias in the Verona Arena…. it’s a beautiful way to end this fantastic trip to Italy.  If you’ve followed the blog, you’ve seen that we’ve experienced some incredible sights and places.  The trip to the South was a new experience and one we’ll cherish for a long time….. the history, the food, the limoncello, the sun and the rain, and the outstanding beauty.  Everywhere the people were great and we met some wonderful people along the way.  And then there’s Rome….. what can I say about Rome…. it’s just an incredible city with so many distinct personalities and stories.  It’s intense, sometimes dirty and noisy, but that gives it the charm that is Rome.  What a wonderful city!  It is the Eternal City…. La Città Eterna.

Thanks for following us through this wonderful trip.  Buona Notte!!!

 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hallo Marc en Rich
    hkheb juist naar de foto’s gekeken en kheb de engels tekst verstaan
    haha
    tis zeer mooi
    groetjes

  2. Happy to hear you arrived safe. Not happy to hear about turbulence… It’s amazing after traveling 12 some hours you both have the energy to roam around Rome! Already you have seen so much. Can’t wait to see what comes next! Ciao

Leave a Reply