Friday, July 15, 2005

Europe 2005 - Southern Italy

Amalfi coast- we drove some of the Amalfi coast and through Sorrentto on our way to our campsite. Yes, it was really beautiful with the cliffs but it took us an hour and a half to get 12 miles because there is one narrow road along the cliffs to service the all of the cities. Tour busses had a hard time passing each other and scooters didn't help matters.

Pompeii-Wow, the place is huge. It really is a city. L. and I went there expecting a few ruins but there is just block after block of buildings. They put up plaques for the street names so you don't get lost. If you don't have a map you will get lost. The problem with the map is that it didn't show which roads were closed for excavation so you can walk to one of the well preserved houses to find it closed. L. and I bought another book with the overlays so that we could see what the ruins were supposed to look like. (I'm on vacation and my imagination is lazy.) The thing that got me was that the streets are preserved enough to see the wagon wheel ruts, especially at the intersections where there are stepping stones for pedestrians it make the grooves closer together. We just wandered around looking at the paintings on the walls and tile-work on the floors. I was really glad that we went in the evening since there was little protection from the sun since most of the roofs were missing for the houses. In Rome all of the ruins were full of cats- usually 3 per building. Here in Pompeii it was all wild dogs that looked like a bunch of run-aways, content to lie in shade and be petted by tourists.

Naples-There was 3 things we wanted to do here:
1-Visit Cappella Di Sanservero to see some amazing marble statues.( I really wish I had a thesaurus so that I could come up with some better words then amazing but with this thumb keyboard all my concentration goes into making coherent sentences.) They had St. John wrapped in a fishing net of marble but the main attraction is Jesus under a cloth. The technical art ability to pull these off is beyond me how they did it.
2-Eat pizza, growing up I had always been told that pizza was an American invention. Italy did invent pizza but it is different. American pizza is a cross between Italian pizza and all the toppings from focaccia bread. (here a soft flat bread about an inch thick full of all the normal pizza toppings cooked into the bread served with olive oil on top.-no crusty cooked cheese.) pizza in Italy comes 2 ways, Margarita (lumps of mozzarella cheese, sauce, and basil) and Marinara (garlic, sauce, and basil)anything else is for tourists. The pizzas are always the size of a large plate and when sold on the street are folded in half like a taco. As we dove farther south the crust kept getting softer and somehow tastier. Naples is the birthplace of pizza so I consider this one of my pilgrimages.
3-visit the city museum to see the spoils of Pompeii. Unfortunately about 90% of the museum was closed for some reason so no plaster casts of dead people or ancient sex paintings that Pompeii was full of for us. Instead of paying 10 Euro for nothing we headed off early to catch the boat.

Tourism- Naples is not a tourist city. At the biggest museum in the city there was not a single person selling souvenirs. When we arrived in the city we could not find anywhere that sold maps of the city. By total luck we ended up in the book seller portion of the city and found an English version of a tour book of Naples among the maps section. Shear luck will run out for us sooner or later.

Driving- Naples takes the cake for craziest driving. There are no lanes. The width of 2 lanes will create about 4 lines of cars at stoplights. Cars will pass on the right honking to make sure you know they are there. Scooters drive the wrong way down one way streets and on sidewalks. Passing is done over double solid lines with oncoming traffic. Some of the roads on our map were so narrow we had to fold in both of our mirrors on our small car to keep them from scraping. We had to duck into a building while walking since a fire truck needed to drive down the road and there was no extra room. I am under the impression that traffic works on the principal that half the cars really really need to get somewhere because about half did follow the rules. The cars appear more dented here but I don't know if that is because of accidents or just since southern Italy is poorer. I did not see any accidents while in Italy and we made it out without a scratch, although there were a couple of times that I had to repeat to myself that I was only in a rental car with 100% insurance.


Anonymous said...

Ahh, what do Napolinese know about pizza anyway. Everyone knows the best pasta is from China, and the best Chinese food is in Japan.

Anonymous said...

Couldnt agree more with that, very attractive article