Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pizza and Pompeii

Our goal on the day we left Tuscany was to make it to Naples in time to eat lunch at Da Michele, the place reputed to have the best pizza.  (Yes, this is the same place where the woman in Eat, Pray, Love goes to eat, but she chose Da Michele for a reason!)

We made it to Naples in pretty good time - then came the hard part.  Driving and parking in the center of Naples. We had heard and read that you just don't want to do it. But how else were we going to get to the pizza place?  We reminded ourselves that we'd both gotten used to driving in Jakarta, so how bad could it be? We were right, it ended up being easy. Of course there was a wait at the pizza place, so we walked around the city for a bit. This is how most of it looked - hardly any space between all the buildings and laundry everywhere!

Here are some pictures from our pizza experience:

They only sell two kinds of pizza there - marinara and margherita.  We had to try both, but decided to order another margherita after devouring the first two - just to be sure we were completely stuffed with the delicious pizza, which was pretty amazing.

Before we planned this trip, I hadn't realized how close Pompeii is to Naples.  In fact, it was on our way to the Amalfi Coast, so it was easy to check it out.  It was truly amazing how well-preserved the city is, after being covered in ash almost 2,000 years ago.  We also happened to get there late in the afternoon on a weekday, which meant there were few other visitors.  It definitely added to the creepy, abandoned feel of the city.  Here are some pictures:

This dog was just cooling off, although he looked dead in the corner!

The detail which remains is incredible, like the paintings on the wall

Reputed to be the world's first "Beware of Dog" sign.  (Cave Canem)

One of the more interesting parts of the city was the brothel.  You could clearly see the "bedrooms" with the stone beds, which they covered with mattresses.  Above each room were erotic frescoes.
Mount Vesuvius in the background:
Street view with modern-day apartments in the background:

Our friend the dog was waiting to say goodbye to us as we left Pompeii - we were the very last people out!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


We rented a car in Rome and headed up into Tuscany. We were staying at Fattoria di Rignana, which is an old farm converted into a B&B. On the way up, we stopped at Orvieto, a cute hilltop town.
Striped church in Orvieto

The place we were staying was in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards.

View from our B&B

We caught the villa's cat making a funny face

The infinity pool was amazing, and we made sure to take some time to relax there.

We wanted to check out San Gimignano and Siena, and the drive to these towns was picturesque as well. We'd come around a corner and see this, for example:

Here are a few pics from San Gimignano:

Siena had a beautiful public square with a giant clock tower, and more striped churches!

Even though this trip was less about seeing museums and monuments, we decided we might as well go to Florence since we were only staying about 45 minutes south of the city. We'd already done the must-see things while we were backpacking back in college, so we spent our time walking around the city, checking out the Duomo, and eating, of course.

The Pointe Vecchio
I took these shots of the river's reflection of the buildings
I love that this one looks like a watercolor

We had some amazing food in Tuscany. Our villa had a great rustic restaurant on the property, which was so good we ended up eating there two different nights.
This is where we had the best dish of our entire trip - in fact, we decided it was the best pasta dish we've ever had. It was called "Sedanini alla Norcina" - sedanini pasta with Tuscan sausage, onions, cream and black truffle shavings. We remembered towards the end of our meal to snap a picture:
We also had steak with fresh rosemary on top, which I'd never seen before. That was delicious as well.
Not to mention all the great Italian wine which accompanied most meals. :)

I'll be back with the last part of our trip soon.

Friday, October 7, 2011


This is a bit delayed, but I wanted to post some pictures from our trip to Italy. We had a great time. We landed in Rome, spent a couple days there, explored Tuscany, and then headed down to the Amalfi coast, with stops in Naples and Pompeii along the way.

First - Rome.  Enjoy the pictures!

"Bridge of Locks" - We stayed at a friend's apartment right near this bridge.  Couples sign their names in permanent markers on a lock, and then lock it onto this bridge for eternity, throwing the key into the river.  But what happens when they break up?

 John taking a break on the Spanish Steps

 The Pantheon at night is gorgeous

 Same with the Trevi Fountain

 Awesome pizza in the cute Trastavere neighborhood - the place is called Dar Poeta

 We couldn't believe that the Michael Jackson impersonators drew a huge crowd right next to the Coliseum... until I realized we were watching them ourselves and even took a photo......

 The top of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II just might have the best view in Rome

Another bridge right near where we stayed, which is called Ponte Milvio.  It was nice staying in a true Roman neighborhood without tourists.  Plus, it's a hotspot for people our age, so there were plenty of fun bars and restaurants to choose from.

Our hostess recommended this restaurant near Piazza Navona, even though it's where Julia Roberts eats (in the garden restaurant scene) in "Eat, Pray, Love."  Though we normally look for places off the beaten path, we were glad we went, as the outdoor garden seating area was beautiful, and the black truffle pasta was wonderful.

Next stop?  Tuscany!