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Archive for May, 2011

Day Twelve – Rome to Florence

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Last day in Rome!  First day of John driving a stick (with 5 hours prior – EVER) in Italy!  Today we left our apartment in Rome, grabbed a rental car and headed to Florence.  Both John and I were anxious about this endeavor for different reasons.  I was nervous because of his low number of hours driving a stick shift accompanied with the craziness that is driving in Italy.  John was just nerved because I was nervous.  

It was a Sunday which was PERFECT for our first driving experience – hardly anyone was on the road.  John did an amazing job and got us to Florence 3 hours later.  

That night John found a unique restaurant about 15 minutes from our hotel.  First, they sit small parties together.  We were expecting to share a table with another couple, however we got lucky (as the place was PACKED) to get our table to ourselves.  Second, they don’t really have a menu.  The chef picks out a few options per course and you can choose from those, which your waiter tells you about.  

We took pictures of the courses.  First, we had prosciutto with melon, tomato bruschetta and a chicken liver topenade bruschetta.  Second course was a cheese and spinach ravioli, gnocchi with olives and peppery and then a vegetable “soup”.  Last course was prime rib, rabbit and chicken.  Clearly the photo of the last course shows how eager I was to put more food into my tummy.  At the end our meal, they brought us a dessert wine, a licorice flavored dessert wine and limoncillo accompanied with some biscotti.  We really enjoyed our meal there and will recommend it to anyone who plans to travel to Florence.   

Day Eleven – Rome

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Today we attempted to do laundry.  We were once again foiled by Italian time, and weren’t able to locate a laundry mat that was open during regular business hours on a Saturday.  

That night we took Justin’s night tour of Rome, a walking tour that hit up 6 different monuments or fountains.  Justin’s tour was pretty funny and included the stories you wouldn’t really hear on a more “conservative” tour.  Afterwards we grabbed dinner again with Justin at a pretty amazing french restaurant.  John had ox tail and I had roasted chicken with peppers with “potato pie” – potato au gratin, as a side.   

Day Ten – Rome

Friday, May 27th, 2011

On Friday we decided to do some shopping.  We put a couple miles on our feet looking for cool stuff.  I couldn’t help taking pictures of some of the weird mannequins we encountered along the way.  We also found a “Byron” store that sold shirts and ties.  We stopped for coffee often and got a good nap in after lunch.  

In the evening we met up with Justin, a friend of ours who works as a tour guide in Rome, and he showed us a couple cool places.  We ended the night in true Italian style with dinner at 10pm in an amazing “authentic” italian restaurant.  We learned that when you say authentic in Italy (according to Justin) that it’s more that the restaurant isn’t near a tourist heavy area, so the patrons are more residents of Rome, not tourists like us 🙂


Day Nine – Rome

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Today we ventured to the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.  We grabbed a tour with the good guide from the day before.  If you haven’t been to the Vatican, or know anything about it, it’s HUGE.  It would take more than an entire day to just look at everything.  Our tour lasted about 4 hours and that was about all we could handle.  While all the art was interesting and our guide was educated, there’s only SO much you can take.  By the time we made it to the Sistine Chapel, I was so exhausted, I sat on the floor and after 10 minutes of taking in the ceiling, played on my phone.  

After that, we headed to what I now think is my favorite basilica to date, St. Peter’s Basilica.  There’s NO way you can walk in there and not be blown away.  The sheer size of it is impressive, and then you add the art work, craftsmanship and durability and it’s hard not to be humbled.  Our pictures don’t really do it justice.  Take a second to look it up and maybe you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.  


Day Eight – Rome

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Today we took to downtown Rome for some tours around the Coliseum and Forum.  We had picked up food from the market downstairs the night before so we were able to make our own breakfast which you see in picture one: eggs, salami, bread and olives.  

We walked to the metro via the Spanish Steps.  There were many high end stores along the way, including a Prada store which had those horrible heels.  SO MANY THINGS WRONG.    This is also where we met our first pushy street vendor.  After pushing a rose into my hands (and he had to PUSH, i know better) and telling us it was a gift for the new happy couple he lingered and then asked John for some money.  When we said no  and gave the rose back, he told us we were a stupid couple.  We laughed and walked away.  

Our tour of the Coliseum was ok.  Our guide was extremely long winded which lead to some self entertainment, like stretching 🙂  You’ll see a picture of a group of kids walking around who were all around 4-5 years old.  Pretty ambitious field trip for some kinders, eh?  

After the Coliseum, we got a new guide who took us around the Roman Forum.  After our tour, we walked around the ruins for a bit, stopping into some exhibits before taking off.   


Day Seven – Napoli to Rome

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Today was our last day in Napoli.  Since our train didn’t depart until 2pm, we finally made it to the Castel Nouvo in the morning.  It was an interesting piece of history, however everything was in Italian, so we had a hard time really understanding it’s story.  In addition to relics from the castel, there were also a few art ehibits..  

We made our train on time and then to our AWESOME apartment in Rome.  Such a nice change in space compared to the closets we’d been staying in.  We have a mini kitchen, a kitchen table, a futon and t.v.!  OH! AND natural sunlight!  There’s a small mart just downstairs of our building where we grabbed eggs, bread, juice, brie, salami and olives for breakfast the next day.  

Day six – Sorrento

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Monday we decided to take a boat out to Sorrento.  The sky was a little overscast, so our boat ride was REALLY FUN. The first picture of me lunging is about 20 feet from where we docked.  We had to stop so I could keep from loosing my breakfast. If you look behind me you can see that Sorrento is up a cliff.  We could have taken a cab up, but it was a fairly easy climb up about 8 flights of stairs.  The second picture is from the top 🙂

We wondered around for an hour before finding a restaurant to have lunch.  Sorrento was described in John’s book as being a popular resort city – which it WAS.  The crowd was older and almost everyone spoke English.  While wondering I found advertisements for a dinner show that was performing that night, but we couldn’t stay to watch it because of travel issues getting back to Napoli.  Sad times for me 🙁

After lunch we decided there wasn’t much we wanted to see in Sorrento so we headed back down to the dock.  On our walk we noticed the clouds rolling in which you can see in the 4th photo.  The last photo is of John in the restaurant that we sat in for 2 hours while we waited for the storm to pass so we could take the boat back to Napoli.  Dramamine in hand, we got on the boat 2.5 hours later and slept for the hour long ride.  

Day Five

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Day 5 was super lazy and uneventful.  On Sunday we set out to travel to Caserta, the town where John’s Great Grandfather lived.  We took off in the mid morning to the train/bus station.  Our regular bus wasn’t in service since it was sunday so we had to cab it.  Once we got to Geribaldi (the station) it took us close to an hour to find out HOW we were going to get there and then buy passes.  We found out that we had to take a coach bus but then when we asked around for where to buy the bus passes all we got was “newspaper stand.”  We walked around for 20 minutes before going back and asking again and found we had walked passed the “newspaper stand” – Hudson News (that chain thats in all US airports) numersou times.  Silly us?

Tickets in hand we headed to the bus stop which was naturally in a sketchy area that smelled like (gasp) piss.  We stood for 40 minutes while John scowered the bus lines website for SOME sort of schedule.  Finally I took the phone and called the number listed.  An older man picked up who spoke NO english – except for – “I don’t speak English” to which I replied “I don’t speak Italian.”  We chuckled and John pulled out the translation dictionary.  I managed to get out what I was looking for and after translating what he answered with, we found that the next bus would get there at 5:05pm… it was 12:45pm.  Sooooo we gave up and headed back to the hotel.  Nothing like sundays/Italian time.  We tried to go to Castel Nouvo which was near our hotel, but again, Sunday got the best of us and they were closed.

We grabbed a big lunch, took a 4 hour nap, woke up, watched a movie and went back to sleep.  

Day Four – Capri

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Day trip to Capri!


After a rough night of sleep for me (up at 4am for the day) we decided to push through a day trip to Capri.  We grabbed breakfast and hopped on a ferry and were in Capri by 11:30. 


What a beautiful island!  Even before we docked, I told John that I wanted to come back the next day.  Once on the island, we took the funicular (or the funny-car if you’re John) up to the top of the island.  We wandered a bit until we found a restaurant named Ristorante il Geranio that served something other than pizza and pasta. 


Once we sat I told John that nothing could top that experience which is when John walked around the table, got on one knee and proposed!  The whole proposal is a bit of a blur for both of us.  Apparently I said “Is this really happening right now?” at some point.  The rest of lunch was surreal for both of us – I barely touched my meal.  


The wait staff was ADORABLE during our time there.  When they saw John on his knee they grabbed flowers from their outdoor area and quickly handed them to John to give to me.  Right after the proposal they put the wedding march on their stereo and posed pictures for us.  They added a bride and groom cake topper to our dessert and toasted us with some amazing limoncello.  We really could not have asked for a better experience.


Being that Italy is ~9 hours ahead of our friends and family in the states, we had a hard time finding people to share our news with.  We emailed pictures and as folks started waking up got responses of congratulations and excitement.  


We spent some time down on the beach before heading back to Napoli.  What an amazing, memorable day!


Day Three – Naples

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Today was our first attempt to see a stage of the Giro.  After talking with our concierge, we hopped on a train from Napoli to Baiano which was about an hour away into the country.  Once we got to Baiano, we were scheduled to find a bus that would take us to Mercogliano.  After roaming around a small town for about 45 minutes looking for the bus stop, we decided to abort and hop on a train back to Napoli.  We were disappointed, however the risk of not getting back to the train station in enough time to make the last train outweighed all our other options.  


Once back in our hotel, we dropped our bags and headed out for some food.  We hadn’t eaten since breakfast (~8am) and it was 4pm and right at the end of Siesta so it was hard to find a restaurant that was open.  We found one where we weren’t allowed menus, just requests.  I ordered pasta Carbinara, and John ordered pasta in meat sauce.  The restaurant owner must have thought he could pull a fast one on us and brought me that NASTIEST carbinara I have ever seen.  My “meat” was just fat pieces of bacon fat that had been sauteed.  Imagine cubes of gristle.  It was disgusting.  John’s pasta wasn’t so bad.


During dinner we booked an evening van tour of Napoli.  After a quick nap we met our driver at 7:45 who took us on a scenic tour for about an hour and half.  The last 4 pictures are from that tour.