Friday, March 18, 2011

On Pompei and Carnavale

So, in the wee hours of the morning, me, Casey, and Keeva woke up and  
made some coffee. And no, that's not all we woke up for, we were  
heading back to Naples today to go check out Pompei- an ancient city  
that was buried and preserved under volcanic ashes of Mt. Vesuvius  
that blew in 79 AD. It was pretty cool, you hear about Pompei, but  
actually being there and checking it out was really cool. We walked  
around what used to be houses, stores, squares, streets, gardens. It's  
all been preserved under the radioactive strenght of the ash. Crazy  
stuff. We then went back to Naples.
  It was a sunny, but chilly day in Naples as we walked around,  
searching for wifi, limoncello, and food. Have I told you how  
different southern Italy is from the rest of Italy? It's a huge  
difference- people semi-aggressively try to sell us things and  
crossing the street is a test of boldness- you just need to start  
walking and hopefully cars will slow down and let you pass. :) a  
little crazy, yes.
Has anyone seen 'Eat Pray Love'? Well, in the movie, Julia Roberts  
goes down to Naples to eat the worlds best pizza (it's also in the  
book like this, I just haven't read the book yet) and that's where we  
had dinner! It's called Di Michele pizzeria and the staff working  
there was so sweet! Older men with huge smiles on their faces, smell  
of fresh pizza, and a restaurant packed with people as the night went  
on. It was a really cool experience and place to eat. Was it the best  
I ever had? It was a REALLY close second- I think the best pizza was  
on our first night in Naples at this highly recommended place- Il  
Matteo. It was SO good. Pizza will never be the same for me.
Anyways- that night we took a crazy overnight train to Venice.
At first it was us three in a compartment- then we were joined by two  
people and two kids, which was actually alot of fun- we tried talking  
in Italian the whole time. And then another couple. Since we didn't  
have reservations, we had to either squish together or one of us move  
out in the hallway on a pullout chair. We took turns sitting outside  
and basically had a sleepless, uncomfortable night, arriving in Venice  
at 5:30 am. We were exhausted and groggy and waited till 6 for the  
train station cafeteria to open along with other fellow travelers,  
some of which joined us on our trek into the city.
Venice was filled with tourists from all over the world, people  
wearing costumes and masks, and kids throwing confetti. The city was  
having one big party!
We hung out all day, trying to stay awake, drinking espressos and  
getting lost. That night we visited a local square where an Italian  
band played music, locals ran around with Italian flags, and most  
people had some form of outfit and/or mask on. It was like Halloween  
for adults. That night, the alleys and streets of Venice were filled  
with people of all ages- old ladies strolling over canals, teenagers  
dancing around squares, and middle-agers taking it all in. It was a  
night to be remembered.
The next day I drew a picture of the Rialto bridge and gave it to a  
fellow traveler, had lunch and headed out to the coastal town of  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Roma, Napoli, and the island of Ischia

Rome, Napoli, and the island of Ischia
So, after Florence, we decided to head down south to Rome, Italy. 
It was actually a great day to leave because it started POURING in Florence that day. I absolutely hate rain- I know I live the northwest, but I was born and raised in southern California! There is nothing fun about getting drenched in the rain- unless you're playing mud football or kissing your significant other someplace romantic- other than that, no thanks!
Anyways, we caught an early evening train, got there about 11 and made our way to our hostel. I was so tired! I'm pretty much always tired being on the road constantly like this- nlbut we got to sleep in the next morning. Oh and also, Steve met up with us in Florence and came down to Rome with us for a bit, which was pretty cool- although he did bail on us then next day. We did meet up with another northwest girl, Keeva, Casey's old coworker and the girl that we met up with in Prague and took on Rome!
Our first day consisted of eating gelato at the Trevi fountain and tossing a coin in for true love. It was such a cool fountain- the water was a beautiful blue, the marble was a whimsical White- it was great. Tons of people milled around, taking pictures, tossing coins, kissing, and just enjoying the was great. We also went to st. Peters church in the Vatican! It's so huge! Can't wait to show you pictures, it is so crazy big and elegant and everything. Also, of course the Sistine chapel! That was so so great. Basically you go through a museum of statues, artifacts, paintings, frescos, tapistries, and then down some stairs to the chapel. It was so beautiful! I'm sure you know what it looked like but I urge you to study it, it's so awesome. We weren't allowed to take any pictures, there were guards at the door that were hushing people and saying 'no photo!' over and over again. But, I did manage to sneak in a video;) 
We also checked out the collesium and ruins surrounding it, it's crazy because it was so old, like these things have been here for thousands of years, and being in their presence, standing where people stood thousands of years ago is such a crazy thought to grasp.

After Rome we decided to head down south to Naples (Napoli) in search of sunshine and warmth- only to be greeted with clouds and rain. UGH! I think the northwest is mad we left it and decided to send rain after us. But I tried to be positive, were in Italy! That night we all ate an entire Napoli pizza- and let me tell you- there is NOTHING that compares to this pizza! It is so so good- the best I've ever had. Mine was a 'marghuerita al cocca' pizza which basically is cheese, sauce, basil leaf, and a fried egg on top. It was so goo, we basically devoured our pizzas in 6 minutes. Along with some lemoncello, which is a lot stronger than I thought it was- but good nonetheless. That night we had a thunderstorm. 
The next few days were spent on the island of Ischia, italy's best kept secret- and I only call it that because i just found out about it less than 24 hours before we went to it! Haha. That's how we roll. 
So we found this good deal on this hostel that actually we were the first guests to stay at this year. This island is a hit spot in the summer- celebrities go here, back in the day soldiers used to come to this island for it's thermal hot springs, it was so awesome! Unfortunately the weather wasn't that great on the island either, but it was a tad warmer- we actually wore shorts on the first day. People looked at us like we were crazy! 
So we spent 4 days on this island, exploring streets, checking out beaches, eating pizza and drinking meloncello ( which is actually better than limoncello, its creamy). The people onthis island are so nice and friendly, everywhere I went I gave a 'buonjourno!' which is 'good day' in Italian, and got a good response back. I met this old man waiting for the bus who used to be a professor, he wore thick rimmed glasses, had no front teeth, but was full of life and you could see it in his smile. We 'chatted' in my broken Italian about school and the island- he used to teach and had 3 degrees, one in philosophy. I wish I knew more Italian, I would have asked him to get s cafe with me so we can talk. Haha. Well, something cool we did was check out the hot springs on the island- Baia di Sorgento- which is a cove where hot (extremely hot) water pours out of hot rocks into the ocean. So, what you do is sit near the springs, but not too close because you will burn yourself and as cold ocean water washes up by the springs, you sit and soak in the waters. Does that make sense? I'm bad at explaining things. But it was cool. That was on our last day there, so we ate dinner on the rooftop watching the sun go down. It was beautiful.