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 Roman coinage.

From there we took the metro to the 

Colosseum 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 Colosseum without 

telling me.

We walked all the way back on the 

Palatine Hill to overlook the Circus 


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 BorgheseVilla Park 

where we wandered before our 

11:00a.m. time for the Borghese Gallery 


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 minute.

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 unearthed inPompeii and 

Herculaneum were brought to this 


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 it 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 Domingo.

We saw the statue of the Nile which 

marks the center of old Naples.

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 ourtour 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. 


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 afterwards.

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 exquisite.

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. A 

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 


June 8th was the last day of school so 

kids hung around a 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 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 room.

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 


We saw fishermen repairing their nets,

caught the fish market, and then toured 

the castle, open to the public since 


We then walked through old town “The

Island”, and visited the cathedral and a 

couple of other churches.

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 rock to 

build. Over the centuries provements 

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 English.

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 


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 pictures.

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 


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 


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 


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

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 


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