Italy, Italy, Italy! September 24, 2006Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
Is there any other place in the world that not only lives up to expectations but exceeds them every time? If there is, we haven’t been there yet.
We started out with three days in Rome, meeting up with my (Amanda’s) Mum and Dad as they were about to go home after three months away. We went to the Catacombs with them which were fascinating. They are a labyrinth of burial chambers under Rome used by Christians since the third century AD.
This time we also went inside the Colosseum and to the Palatine Hill- last time we were too cheap.
From Rome we went to Naples. It was everything we had heard it would be. It was filthy, chaotic and a bit dangerous and we loved it. As soon as we got off the train, someone was setting off fireworks in broad daylight in the middle of the street for the San Gennaro feast day. Naples seems to be a real city as opposed to those that are very touristy. You can also see why apparently it has the highest population density in Europe. We had famous Napoli pizza and it really was the best pizza we have ever had. It came straight from a wood fired oven in a place that has been owned for at least three generations by the same family. The grandfather reportedly invented the calzone.
We went to Pompeii and that was also a real highlight of the trip so far. It is incredibly preserved and the houses look as if they could be renovated and we could move right in. The Romans certainly knew their stuff. In some places you can still see the tracks worn in the stones of the street by the chariots.
We have spent the last couple of days in Assisi. I thought that perhaps it would not move me as much as last time but it truly is an amazingly spiritual place. The countryside around is also lovely.
We are in Florence now and the Duomo is still at the centre of everything. We always seem to run into it wherever we go. We just had a great Italian fast food experience at a tiny hole in the wall cafe called I Fratellini. They only serve panino and drinks- mainly red wine. There are a number of simple choices on the menu and almost before you have given your order, the bread roll and fillings are on the counter in front of you. The bread is warm and crispy and the fillings are fresh and very Italian. Everyone stand on the street outside with their panini in one hand and drink in the other. After this we went and had gelato at Perche No!, including sesame flavoured gelati. I would never have thought of sesame as an ice-cream but it is divine. We have decided that we are going to go to both of these places every day that we are in Florence (three in total).
We are staying in a camping ground at the Piazzale Michelangelo which has a fantastic view over Florence and is surrounded with olive groves and old enormous villas. Chris is looking forward to riding his bike through the hills to Fiesole tomorrow.
We are going to make a day trip to Siena on Monday and go to Lucca on the way to Pisa on Tuesday. We catch a flight from Pisa to Girona, Spain on Tuesday night.