400 days to travel the world…only stopping to eat, drink, and everything in-between.

Posts tagged “Naples

Day 158 of 400: Naples and Rome – Italy

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After our leisurely breakfast on the rooftop overlooking the city of Naples, we set out to explore a different area.  We walked through a huge square with massive buildings including the theater and large cathedral.  Even the ceilings of some of the walkways had such detailed design.  We continued getting our daily exercise going up and down various streets until we had worked up an appetite for…yes another pizza.

As we approached the restaurant, L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele  (http://damichele.net) there was a crowd of people waiting outside.  We walked in and took a number hoping someone would help us to recognize when it was our turn being the numbers were all called in Italian.  About 25 minutes later, our number was called and a nice Italian couple pointed to us.  We walked in and immediately saw a packed small restaurant with a wood burning oven and a guy placing the pizzas inside.  We sat down at the only two seats left in the restaurant which were at the same table as another couple.  We saw pictures of Julia Roberts smiling with pizza in her mouth on the walls.  We realized we were in the Eat, Pray, Love pizza place!  The menu was short and sweet.  Margarita or marinara…we opted for two margarita pizzas.

15 minutes later, two pizzas came out with juices literally boiling on the top.  We all got quiet as we dug into what was supposed to be the best pizza in the world.  We were not disappointed…I wouldn’t usually describe a pizza as juicy…but it was.  I’m not talking about grease…but the juice of the fresh tomatoes.  The gooey cheese and the marinara sauce was oh so good.  Giff usually eats his food very slowly when it is delicious…dragging out each bite, but this time was different.  I had eaten about a quarter of mine and Giff’s plate was empty.  We voted this pizza the best we have ever had.  It was simple and it was cheap (4 euros) and it was #1.  Do not, I repeat, do not miss this pizza next time you are in Naples…well worth the wait.

With our bellies filled to the rim we walked out of that place with big smiles on our faces.  That is the type of pizza worth getting a little muffin top.  We walked back to our hotel, checked out and got on the road for Rome.  We hadn’t been back to Rome since our honeymoon in 2005.  We were a little nervous about driving in a city the size of Rome and more importantly trying to find a public parking spot since our B&B didn’t have private parking.

About three hours later we arrived in a surprisingly quaint neighborhood in Rome which was very easy to drive in and which we found a parking spot on the street right away.  The area was fairly residential but was very close to the Vatican and within walking distance of all the major sites.  The room at our B&B was nice and big with air conditioning, internet and a clean bathroom…all of the essentials.  We relaxed for a bit catching up on computer stuff and watching a little Italian TV.

Believe it or not, by dinner time we were hungry…is it possible our stomachs are expanding?  The B&B owner told us there were tons of restaurants around but that the neighborhood had a very good one on the block.  We decided since it was three doors down to sit at one of the tables outside and order some pasta.  Cucina Umbra (I don’t think they have a website) was a family run restaurant.  The son was our waiter and the mother hand-made all the pastas.  Both the mom and dad were outside helping to serve all the customers.  They were probably about 70 years old.

We ordered the spinach lasagna and the tagliatelle with arrabbiata sauce and both were extremely delicious.  I looked over at Giff as he continued chewing in slow motion with his eyes closed…he used the phrase, “making love to his food”.  Ahhhhh, Italian food…it is never too much.  We ate and chatted with the waiter, cleaned our plates and walked back to our place where we slept soundly.

Day 157 of 400: Naples – Italy

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Today will be the day we feel sick from eating so much pizza.  We are after all…staying in Naples…where pizza was invented!

We checked into the Marriott right in the center of Naples, grabbed a map and circled the world’s best pizza places.  We walked the city and started our challenging research of which pizza really is the best.  It is definitely hard work but someone had to do it so we stepped up to the challenge.

It was extremely hot in the city…as in, move your pinky finger and you sweat. We walked around for a good half hour before getting to our first bite of pizza.  We sat and ordered a salad and pizza from Ristorante Europeo.  The pizza which was listed on the menu as chef’s surprise was kind of split into 3 types in one.  One side had green canned chili’s and red peppers, the other side had fresh cherry tomatoes and the last had white beans which made a surprisingly good taste with the gooey cheese and chewy dough.  The pizza was definitely a good one and the salad had all kinds of fresh mixed greens, green beans, tomatoes, octopus and sardines.  But…we didn’t give this one the world’s best title although it was definitely great.

The plan was to order one pizza at all these places and share so we could keep eating our way through the city, but we were already pretty full.  We decided to walk all over the city for hours checking out the different areas.  It was definitely a big NYC type feel except it was extremely dirty.  We’re not talking about typical city grime, We’re talking about garbage piled all over the place, trash on the streets…this is not a place for flip-flops when walking around.  If you can look past all the dirt and all the warnings of being mugged…there are gorgeous statues and fountains and old architecture.  There are big squares with tons of pizzerias and of course lots of cheap shopping including the vendors on the streets wanting you to buy their wanna be Gucci purses made out of the finest plastic around.

We weaved our way in and out of alleys and major roads.  There were clothes hanging on clotheslines all across the streets and crowds of both tourists and locals.  After much walking and many pictures we worked up our appetite and  went to our next pizzeria…Sorbillo.  We walked quite a while looking around for this place in the dark, we finally asked someone where this place was…and in Italian they showed us we were right down the street from it.  He said something about number 2 is better.  We didn’t really know what he was talking about but saw the sign “Sorbillo” and grabbed the last table available.

We ordered 2 pizzas, one was a lasagna pizza which had tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, ham and basil and the other was a classic margarita.  We paired our pizzas with 2 local beers made by Peroni and cleaned our plates.  Full and tired from our long day, we started our walk back to our hotel…but 2 doors down saw loads of people standing outside a restaurant and a loud-speaker announcing different orders were ready.  We stopped to see what restaurant was getting so much fuss…the sign read “Sorbillo”.  We suddenly realized, we were duped.  We had gone to a fake Sorbillo!  Unbelievable…had we just looked 2 more doors down we would have seen the real pizza place, but why would we keep looking when we saw what we thought was the right restaurant.  We had mixed feelings about this all the way home.  We felt we had very good pizza but were fooled by the imposter “Sorbillo” pizza place.  Maybe we could go back in the morning?

Tomorrow we will eat at least one more pizza before leaving Naples!

Day 156 of 400: Pompeii – Italy

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Your alarm goes off, you jump in the shower, get dressed, grab breakfast and leave the house.  Within a few hours, the day turns pitch dark and pumice rocks start falling from the sky.  The air is so thick with ash, it is literally suffocating and the poisonous gases in the air are killing you and everyone around you.

When Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., they think it erupted close to 12PM on August 24th and started with a deafening sound which was the top blowing off the volcano.  The explosion blew up 20 km high into the sky forming a huge cloud of matter…then the pumice rocks started falling and then the ash fell over 70 km.  Within hours, the entire city of Pompeii was dead and buried.

To walk the streets of this old Roman city and look at the ruins is kind of eery but also fascinating.  The streets are long and gridlocked.  There is a huge amphitheater, tons of what were probably houses and stores, a bath house, pillars standing without the buildings to hold up etc.  The streets seemed to go on forever…there must have been so many people…

Giff and I spent a couple of hours walking up and down the stone streets and could have spent many more.  We walked through some of the old buildings, taking pictures and reading our booklet to help navigate us around.  One of the areas we found most amazing was “the garden of the fugitives”.  13 plaster cast bodies including children were frozen in the positions they were in when they were taking their last breath.  It’s amazing how archeologists are able to find where these bodies were, but since they decomposed…they pour plaster through a hole in the ground into the cavity where the body was, and then dig around the mold.  The end result captures the body down to the facial expression.

Many Roman towns have been rebuilt at some point during history but since Pompeii was buried in ash, it was preserved and therefore the streets we were walking on and the building remains we were looking at was all exactly the way it was so long ago.  They have also uncovered paintings on some of the walls as well as statues amongst other artifacts.  The archeologists continue to dig to uncover more and more.

We climbed some of the steps to get a view of the town which was dominated by the volcano in the background…it was unreal to be able to walk through the streets of all those people who were suddenly killed by a volcano they thought to be just a mountain.

After our long hot walk through Pompeii, we were ready to go back to our hotel.  We walked back outside of the ruins (old Pompeii) and into the new town of Pompeii which is active with people, tourists, shops, restaurants and hotels.  The main large piazza with the cathedral are right outside the old area of Pompeii.  Giff and I had tried one of the mom & pop type restaurants before we went into the Pompeii Ruins.  The food was one of our least favorites in Italy but we ate at a table next to the owners and enjoyed watching them chat and eat their lunch…even offering us a juicy peach from their table.

We went back to our hotel, grabbing a take out pizza and salad on our way to the room.  We ate and caught up on our Internet stuff before going to bed.  Tomorrow we will be in Naples!