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Campania & Amalfi Coast Two wonderful weeks in Massa Lubrense


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What Do You Do There? Two wonderful weeks in Massa Lubrense​

By caplanco from colorado, Spring 2003
We try to spend five to seven weeks in Italy every two years. Several of our friends, while somewhat envious, are also curious. “What do you do there for all that time,” they ask? “We just live,” we respond. This report is an illustration of "living" in Massa Lubrense.

This trip report was originally posted on slowtrav.com.


We were going to be in Italy for seven weeks in April and May, 2003: Florence, Campagnia, Spoleto, Pienza,Venice and Milan. Our friends, Bob and Alice K., wanted to join us in Campagnia as they had never been there. We rented places and leased a car large enough for the four of us well in advance and we all were set to go. In the meantime, their son became engaged and the wedding date was set for the day we were leaving for Italy. Bob and Alice cancelled, thinking that they’d be too exhausted after all the wedding activities to join us. My husband, Michael, and I then changed our plans, switching dates for the Spoleto and Campagnia locations.

So there we were in Florence, having a wonderful time at Residenzia Il Carmine and thoroughly enjoying the Oltrarno area. We had arrived on Wednesday, April 9. Six days later, two days before we were to leave Florence for Spoleto, we received an email message from Bob and Alice. They will arrive in Florence on Friday night! They didn't know we'd changed our itinerary and they expected to be with us in Campagnia. Major scurry, lots of phone calls to change plans. Miriam at Il Carmine was able to accommodate us for the extra nights as long as we moved into a smaller apartment, which worked well. The owner of the apartment in Spoleto agreed to the date change and Katrina at Ville in Italia, fortunately with an office in Florence, had a couple of places for us to consider in Campagnia. As it would be Easter weekend, this was not easy. We decided to take a place in Massa Lubrense that was larger than we needed and more expensive than we’d planned on, but sounded very nice.

Sure enough, the Ks arrived on Friday in time for a glorious sunset. We walked to the Westin to meet them and then we all enjoyed delicious lamb chops at Trattoria Angelino in Oltrarno.

Saturday, April 19 – MASSA LUBRENSE, HERE WE COME​

We said our goodbyes to Miriam and Emilio and settled our bill. It took Michael three tries before he bailed the car out of the parking lot. First, he forgot the ticket. Then, he didn't have enough euros. We got to the Westin after only one wrong turn.

Alice and I took a walk while Bob, Michael and, we found out later, someone from the hotel maneuvered the too much baggage into the trunk and the car. As it turned out, it was fortunate that we had not been able to change our lease to a smaller car before we left home. Alice and I made our little nests in the back with cases piled between and under us.


Building the nest

Villa Parking​

Shortly after leaving Florence we stopped at the good old reliable Autogrille where I finally had a morning macchiato. The system-less system for ordering and selecting food is quite interesting. The crowds traveling for the Easter weekend holiday are formidable. It is amazing to watch the traffic dance in the parking lot. The lineup for the ladies bathroom was quite the scene The sun is shining, Bob and Michael are taking turns driving, and the autostrada is very crowded

The outskirts of Naples were not impressive, but then the scenery began to change. Palm trees replaced the cypresses of Tuscany. Once off of the autostrada the road began to climb above the sea - and climb and climb. Traffic was very heavy so it took almost an hour to get to Massa Lubrense where we were to meet the villa’s agent, Anna, who would take us there. It took a bit of doing to find the liquor store where she was to meet us, but we finally did, and followed her to the villa down a narrow road with a turn too sharp for the car to make in one try. The parking situation is difficult for our four door sedan.

The Villa​

The villa has four bedrooms on three levels, way more room than we need. The level which you enter after going down some steps from the parking space has a large bedroom suite - we call it the pink room - and the Ks are in it. There is also a smaller bedroom and bath. The next level down has a living room, separate music room-sitting area, and our bedroom - the white room - which has a curved desk, chintz covered sofa, and bookcases. The next level down has a huge kitchen with wood-burning pizza oven, six burners, electric oven, charcoal double grill and every pot and pan imaginable. However, I have yet to find a drinking glass. On this level there is also a breakfast table area and a formal dining room. And finally, down another flight of stairs, there is a laundry room and tiny bedroom.

All of the levels have floor to ceiling windows and views of the sea. Every level has a terrace with table and chairs outside of every bedroom. There are several lemon trees on the terraces. Anna told us that the owner, Dott. Scoppa, produces limoncello, fruit liqueurs and herbs which are sold at Bar Mayflower in Sorrento. There are large oil paintings all over the house done by Dott. Scoppa’s wife, and they are not to my taste.


One of the several terraces at the Villa


After our walk-through with Anna, checking to see if heat, water, etc. work, it is almost 8 p.m. We head to town to buy groceries before the stores close at 9:30. It took both Michael and Bob to get us out of the parking space - there is a rock wall across the road which severely limits turning ability - and turned around, which involved heading the wrong way until reaching an area where there was space to turn, then gunning the engine with the emergency brake on so as to make it up the incline. Then, again, we had to negotiate the sharp curve which required a similar procedure. It was scary, and I was grateful that Bob was in the navigator’s seat.

We finally made it into Massa where we split up to do grocery shopping. Michael and Alice went to buy fruit and vegetables. We got some cheese, eggs, penne, coffee, juice and milk. We met up at a store where I asked about buying some fresh bread at this late hour and the woman who owned the bakery told her daughter to take the Ks there. They were gone for a very long time and finally returned with several huge loaves of bread and a bunch of roses. We also got a few bottles of my favorite Santa Margherita pinot grigio, which costs $16 at home, for E6.50.

Dinner was at Ristorante Primavera on road to town: Mixed seafood salad (calamari, gamberetti, small mussels and tiny clams, octopus). We shared an order of the local pasta with mixed seafood which is similar to tagliareni. Nice people, okay food. We were falling asleep at the table.

Bob drove home and managed to back the car into our space with Michael directing and the clutch burning. I hope that at the end of the two weeks there will still be a clutch left.


Between a rock and a hard place


It is 11 a.m. and I'm still in bed. My intention is to do nothing most of the day except for a load of much needed laundry. The view from our bed is quite spectacular even though it is hazy. It is much cooler here than it was in Florence.

When we got home last night we tried every which way to make the top fit on the contemporary coffee maker but gave up in frustration knowing that there had to be a way to do it. Alice discovered how to put the lid on the coffee pot this morning. I can't believe we did everything but put it on backwards - which is how it's supposed to be. The next challenge was plugging it in. The K's converter finally did it, although we can't figure out why the owners don't have one since it is obviously needed. We had too weak coffee, bread and cheese with jam at the little green breakfast table. The roses are drooping.

About 3:00 Michael and I went for a walk. We took the walking path to Marina della Lobra which was very pleasant through lemon and olive groves, passing private gardens. In Marina families were enjoying late Sunday lunch and youngsters were playing soccer. We walked along the sea wall and then returned to the villa. Even though I broke down and put in my contact lenses and put on make-up we decided to stay home for dinner. Michael had fixed nice antipasti for lunch so no one was all that hungry. We had a big salad, artichokes, hard boiled eggs, and strawberries and sliced pears for dessert.


Marina del Lobra

Monday, April 21 - POMPEII IN THE RAIN​

We'd set the alarm for 7:45 a.m. with the intention of leaving at 9 for Sorrento and Pompeii. We stopped for cappuccino and delicious pastry at the Gourmet Bar in Massa. A little girl, about two years old, came in with her parents, marched behind the counter for her cookie, and was hugged and played with by everyone there. Bob took her photo on the digital and showed it to her and she just didn't know what to make of it.

It is gray, windy and raining but we're ready to go somewhere. It's only 6K to Sorrento but takes forever in the two lane heavy traffic to get to the parking lot. We get 8 hours worth of parking on the lotto type system then catch the train to Pompeii which takes 30 minutes.

It was pouring when we got there but we decided to forge ahead. There was only one audio guide available in English and it was tough sharing among the four of us. We went into the cafeteria with a zillion others all trying to get dry and warm. Plates of mediocre pasta, and we're off. The rain had stopped and after awhile Michael and I went back to the entrance - like salmon swimming against the tide- to get another English audio guide.

The Ks and we each had a cell phone so we were able to phone them to see where they were and when to meet. Bob bought an Italian phone upon arrival, and I used my Treo 180 PDA/GSM phone for which I’d bought an Italian TIM sim card when we were in Florence. Have the phones was very helpful, allowing us to go our separate ways but connect easily.

Pompeii is amazing. It’s a very large area and the sense you get of what life was like in the BC Roman city is astounding. The homes, the shops, the gyms, theaters, and coliseum are marvels. There are plaster casts of some of the bodies that were discovered when the ruins were uncovered in the late 1800s. The sun came out and it got quite warm. We were exhausted by the time we met the Ks at 5:30 and got on the train.


Vesuvious and Pompeii

Hard to Believe It's All Real​

Our car was still in the lot and we just had to ante up a few more Euros. The drive back was a piece of cake compared to the morning as there was almost no traffic. We had the usual trouble parking the car and did a bit of damage to it, but Bob and Michael are beginning to develop a sense of the correct angle at which getting in and out is a bit easier.

After a bit of a rest Alice and I walked the path to Marina della Lobra where the guys - after having wrestled with the car yet again - met us at Ristorante De Michele. Delicious grilled orata and a caprese salad just hit the spot. Michael also had excellent ravioli. When we got home I could hardly believe it when I realized that I was looking across at Capri, standing next to “our” lemon tree, and seeing a sky full of stars.


Capri from our terrace

Tuesday, April 22 – 'TWAS WAS THE ISLE OF CAPRI…..​

Even though we got up and out by 9 a.m. we stopped in town for caffe, etc and didn't get to the pier until 10. Michael went to park and we got in line with the hordes to buy boat tickets to Capri. The jet boat took 20 minutes.

There were so many people at the landing that our guys hired a driver, Pasquale, to drive us up to Anacapri in his top-down white convertible. He offered us "a deal - E100” - to take us around the island. Michael tried to negotiate, but E100 it was. Pasquale dropped us in Anacapri and we had lunch outside of the church at Mamma Giovanna: ravioli w/ricotta with walnut stuffing and grilled calamari, veal scallopine for Alice.

Then he picked us up and we drove to Marina Piccolo, the beach where we should have had lunch. Pasquale left us in Capri where we found the only worthwhile sites of the day - the garden of Augustus and the garden Certosa.

We had wanted to go to Villa Jovis but no longer had time as it’s a fairly long hike. Gorgeous views, blue sky. One time on Capri was enough, and I know others will not agree. We had gelato and caffe, watched the world go by, and then caught the boat - the ferry rather than the jet - and got back to Sorrento at 6:30.


Jewels of Capri

Surprise Visit​

We bought a few groceries and a TIM card in Sorrento. The nice TIM people in Massa made the call for me to renew it, as the verbal instructions were in Italian. We were tired and had a nice dinner at home of roasted chicken, salad, cheese, wine, potato chips.

I was quite startled when the doorbell rang at 11 p.m. It was Anna who came to deliver the toilet paper which I’d requested (and expected to have supplied at the price we were paying), and answer questions about how to work some of the kitchen appliances. She was supposed to have come at 7:30 in the morning.


For future planning we wanted to explore other towns that had better beach areas than Massa Lubrense. We left by 9:30 a.m. but people hadn't gotten enough sleep and the road - while absolutely spectacular - was very curvy leading to semi-nausea. There was a lot of traffic- so what else is new - which actually helped to slow the curves. Too huge to photograph, the wonders of the coastal drive will remain a glorious mind picture.

As we approached Positano the traffic came to a halt. I did not find it very attractive and have no need to return. We decided to go as far as Maiori and stopped in Minori for lunch at L’Arsenale: fusilli with shellfish was very good.

We no longer had enough time to get to Ravelllo, the one place we really wanted to get to, and the mood was somewhat somber as we were beat from the drive. Maiori has a beach front but little charm; we were happy we’d decided to stay in Massa, even though it meant giving up being closer to a beach. We agreed to go to Ravello and Amalfi the following week.

On to Vietri where we'd planned to buy wonderful china. Interesting visit to the Ceramiche Solemare factory, but we didn’t like anything enough to buy it. The town is one ceramic shop after another. It all looks alike after awhile. Only one shop had any different style. Bob and I had expected to see the good stuff that we think is called Vietri - two women import it and it’s expensive - but we never saw any that met our expectations. Nothing we saw here compared to our favorite Rampini ceramic studio in Tuscany. I did have my afternoon gelati: limone granata and tarrtufino.

Bob drove home on the autostrada which seemed much easier than the coast road until we hit the traffic jam outside of and all through Sorrento. We made a brief stop in Massa for groceries and came home and grazed.

I am disappointed in Campagnia and have no need to return. I guess we had to experience it to know how it compares to other areas of Italy that we love. I am very happy we are staying here at the villa for two weeks so we will have time to just relax as I would like to actually finish a book! I did not find either Minori or Maiori to be very charming. Certainly not like Arenzano (Liguria) where we did a home exchange on our last trip to Italy. And the area traffic is appalling. As Bob says, if you have only one road in and out (framed by the sea on one side and the sheer cliff rising up on the other) you are bound to have traffic. The hazy sun reflected on the water was stunning as we drove home. It could have been a painting. The air is very crisp and fresh with just the right amount of moisture.

Thursday, April 24 – HI HO, IT’S GREAT TO BE LAZY​

We had all decided to take the day off from planned activities. Alice and I sat on the lower terrace - the one off of the kitchen - in the sun listening to the sounds of birds, workmen, boats. There is a rooster in the neighborhood who crows quite consistently throughout the day. There is a haze over the water between here and Capri. Michael went off on an ambitious hike. Bob walked into town. It is 2 p.m. and my only goal for the day is to finish my book. Glorioso!

We had to pay for mandatory maid service and now Alice and I will get to find out who the maid is; we suspect it’s Anna. She appeared this morning at 10:30 with workmen, unannounced. They are to repair the steep steps going down to the sea which, Anna assures us, won’t interfere with our quiet enjoyment. She said Katerina, the rental agent, was supposed to have let us know about this, but she hadn’t.

When Bob came back from town he reported that it was pretty easy to walk on the road. Alice and I did just that around 4, had caffe and explored. We bought charcoal and more veggies. Balducci the sandal maker was not open. I got an International Herald for the first news I'd read in a while. When we got back (the hausfraus schlepping the charcoal all the way) the grill in the kitchen was lit, and Michael began to sauté baby artichokes, and we all ran up to the middle terrace too watch a magnificent sunset and take photos. We set the table on the lower terrace and enjoyed our feast of grilled eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini with panzanella salad and a plate of cheeses and, of course, nice white wine. When it got too cool we moved inside and finished with strawberries and tartlets.

We've all commented on how nice and helpful everyone has been. Michael's adventure today took him on a bus ride to get back to Massa, which involved getting off to buy two tickets and an old woman helping him in Italian. We all agree that this is a great place and we're glad we decided to stay here. And, yes, Anna is the maid. Bob says he saw a younger woman too, but we didn't. Anna did show me where to put the soap in the washing machine and she opened the huge umbrella over the terrace.


Michael and Bob prepare one of many feasts

Friday, April 25 – LIBERATION DAY​

We woke up to another gorgeous day. We went into town to go to the market but because it was Liberation Day there was no market. So after caffe and fresh-from-the oven pastry at our favorite, the Gourmet Bar, Alice and I went sandal shopping. At first the saleswoman at Balducci, who did not speak English, was just trying to sell us what was at hand. I tried - not very well - to ask about the sandal-maker and whether he could make sandals to fit. Just as we were getting ready to leave he came in. Several try-ons and photos later, Alice ordered four pair and I got two. I don't know if they will fit, but worst case will be that I'll wear them in the house. At E40 a pair it was worth it for the fun.

Then on to Nerano where we parked the car and took the trail for about 30 minutes down to Marina del Cantone. This is a pebble beach and since it was a holiday, which we has forgotten about, it was packed. We tried to get into Maria Grazia for lunch but they were full so we had lunch on the waterfront at Da Pappone which was nice. Tried marinated anchovies which were good and not at all salty. Then shared spaghetti with zucchini in a carbonara type sauce and fritto calamari and gamberoni. We hiked back to the car and stopped at a ceramic shop in Termini which was nothing special. I tasted some limoncello which I find to be much too sweet, and bought some lemon and orange marmalades. We stopped in town and got gelati and sat on the shop's porch watching families and friends enjoy the afternoon. I think that the faces of the children we see have been like that for so many generations. They still look like the cherubs in the 13th century paintings.

At home we did laundry which took forever. Michael put together a beautiful salad platter and we grazed our way through dinner. We've agreed that we want to go to Heracleum, the museum in Naples, and Ravello. Nice to have this place so that we can space activities out and hike and just hang out in between. After lunch we took the path up over a lovely cove with a smaller beach. They're not what I would really call beaches. More like pebbles with some cement slabs on which to put beach chairs. The beach chairs are great; they have a mesh piece on the top that folds over to make a little “roof” for shade. So simple, yet I've not seen anything like it before.

Saturday, April 26 – HOMEBODIES​

We walked into town and picked up our sandals at Balducci and they fit! I'm sure I won't get much wear out of the backless gold pair, but I've already worn the “giallo.” We were loaded down with sandals, fish, veggies, etc. The fish buying was interesting, as we had to try different ways of asking if they cleaned it or sold it as is. We got some gutted orata and some gamberoni.

We drove to S. Agata for the Casa in Fiero, a home show. It only took about 15 minutes to walk through and it was interesting to see some of the kitchen and bathroom tiles and ideas. We stopped to buy some nuts and dried fruit and chocolate covered almonds from a street vendor, then wandered around the town. Caffe and one lovely wild strawberry tartlet were refreshing. We happened across a wonderful fresh pasta shop which was just opening and got an assortment of ravioli.

When we got back the laundry which we'd done the day before was finally dry! Michael and Bob were the chief cooks, firing up the grill and marinating roasted peppers. Alice made a salad which we never got to because we were too full. Bette Midler and Cesare Evora CDs playing, white wine from Campagnia, another beautiful sunset; life is good.

We intended to go to Naples the next day but discovered that the museum closes early on Sunday. Instead we’ll go to Paestum and stay there overnight, then spend all day Monday in Ravello and Positano. We'll go to Naples on Wednesday.


A perfect strawberry tart

Sunday, April 27 – PAESTUM​

We were actually up and out by 8:10 and on the way to Paestum. We made it through Sorrento in record time and got to Paestum around 10. We looked at a couple of hotels across from the beach - sort of like Las Vegas in the middle of nowhere. It's an agricultural area with lots of artichokes standing tall in the fields. Bufala mozzerella is also made in this region and we finally did see a herd of buffaloes. We were all hungry and wound up eating lunch at the Schuhmann Hotel where we decided to stay. The hotel is on the beach and the sound of the sea is wonderful.

Lunch was a pretty funny experience. The Schuhmann is a half/full board hotel so guests have assigned tables. There were only two other people in this huge formal dining room with pink damask cloths and napkins, silver and goblets. When we asked for a table near the window the waiter got flustered because it wasn't the table assigned to our rooms. He also had to go and confer with someone several times about how to say certain words like clams, when telling us about what we could have for lunch. We only wanted pasta, nothing else, and he just didn't get it.

The museum at Paestum has an incredible collection of Greek artifacts going up to Roman times. We went over to the park around 5 p.m. which is particularly is lovely at that time of day. The temples are very impressive. Only a fraction of what can be unearthed has been done. I think one could easily do the museum and park together in about three hours, have lunch, and go to Ravello for an overnight. We were staying in Paestum, however, so we had a lovely dinner at Nonna Scepa. We were the only ones there when we walked in, then a couple of other tables filled. This place had been jam packed when we'd tried to get in earlier that day for lunch, it being Sunday. The service was lovely even though no one really spoke English. We had assorted fried goodies stuffed with broccoli and cheese, potato, smoked ricotta and other things. We shared a delicious risotto with zucchini and artichokes, and I had braciola of veal and Michael had fish in a lemon sauce.

We went to sleep to the lulling sounds of the sea.




We really did meet in the lobby at 8 a.m. and had caffe and croissant at the hotel since it was included in the price. We made really good time on the autostrada and then discovered we'd missed the turnoff for the Amalfi coast. We got off at Angri and after lots of being lost and map checking the guys finally agreed asked for directions which got us on the road to Ravello. It looked pretty harrowing on the map but was, in fact, a beautiful untrafficed road going up and up with gorgeous views. The road is quite wide and the curves were easy. The best part was running into to herds of goats and sheep with all their bells jangling. It turned out to be a wonderful way to enter Ravello, from the top down. And we were only an hour behind schedule.

We started at Villa Cimbrone which is breathtakingly beautiful. On the walk there we could feel the elegance of Ravello. It was what we'd expected Capri to have been. We spent almost two hours enjoying the gardens, then had lunch with a fabulous view and wonderful classical music on the patio at Villa Maria. (I’d brought the names of two recommended but neither had outdoor areas and it was much too lovely to be indoors.) We had a salad of bufala mozzerella, great red tomatoes and avocado. Then I had scilatelli with seafood sauce (mussels and clams) and Michael had seafood filled ravioli. The Ks shared what they said was a great veal Milanese, and spinach. The spinach was fresh and wonderful. A nice family from Denmark was seated at a table next to us. They had an adopted child from Bolivia. Many Americans are adopting Chinese and Russian children. How many generations will it take before we are all one big blended family?

After lunch we went to Villa Rufolo which was a bit disappointing after Cimbrone. But that is relative, as both gardens are wonderful. There was a professional photographer taking pictures of a "bride and groom." She had on a gorgeous bridal gown with lots of fine old lace. We watched the photo shoot for awhile and then wandered into the church which has a beautiful marble mosaic alter with six columns, each one mounted on a stone lion. It was time to leave this paradisiacal setting for Amalfi. I told Michael he could bring me back to Ravello for a week anytime.


Marsha, Bob, Alice and Michael enjoying lunch at Villa Maria in Ravello

The Rest of the Coast​

The road down to Amalfi from Ravello was short but more difficult than the others because the curves were very tight. Michael opted to hang out on the beach and the three of us explored the shops and then went to the piazza and people-watched while sipping cappucinni. The duomo is impressive with a broad flight of steps similar to the Spanish Steps. We watched a man drag his child, in a stroller, up all of the stairs, with the kid bouncing all the way. Although there were lots of folks just hanging out, Amalfi seems more of a place where people live, even though it has plenty of tourist shops. An hour in Amalfi was just right so we got Michael and were on our way to Positano.

We couldn't figure out exactly where Positano’s town center was so we just parked and started walking down… and down… and down. Again, I know others won’t agree but I was underwhelmed with Positano. The fashions are unique and nothing I was interested in; very gauzy, muddy type colors. The gelati however, was delicious: melone and nocciolo. We took a cab (the driver wouldn't let us get in the car until we finished our gelati) up to the top to find our car. Fortunately we had taken a digital photo of the area where we’d parked, so the driver was able to find it fairly easily; I’m not so sure we could have!

We left about 7:30 and were very happy to get "home" an hour later. Anna left a note that I think is about something appearing to be broken but I can't figure out too many of the words. We seem to have no working phones. Bob has not been able to get an internet connection for a few days so maybe there is a link. We wearily had some leftover salad for dinner and are looking forward to doing nothing tomorrow. It was a perfect day, including the weather. We have been truly blessed.


Michael meets his muse in Ravello


This is really a day off. Got up and dressed at 10 and, after coffee which I made today, I’ve been sitting on the lower terrace reading. I just finished Anthony Boudain's book, A Cook's Tour, which I enjoyed very much. I can't remember when I've been this relaxed. The sounds: a clucking chicken, crowing rooster, boats in the sea, the creaking of the terrace awning ropes, many birds, Anna unloading the dishwasher. The colors are so vibrant: rich green, deep blue, and of course, lemon yellow. Maybe that’s why I subconsciously chose giallo sandals.

Anna's note from yesterday means that her sunglasses, which she says were upstairs, were broken. One half of them is missing. I've never seen the glasses before. Scam? I don't intend to do anything about them. I'm sure that if any one of us caused the damage we'd have said something, at least to one another. When it came time for dinner we all decided that Michael's lovely antipasti were sufficient and that it was too wonderful on the terrace to do anything more. Later on we heated up the leftover fresh pasta from S. Agata, had our bufala mozzerella with leftover tomatoes and basil, enjoying blissful quiet and relaxation.

About 8, in need of some exercise before bed, Bob and I walked into town and had gelati and bought caffe before the store closed. It was considerably darker coming home but we did have flashlights. Alice is feeling a bit under the weather and is not sure she will be up for Naples tomorrow; Bob will let us know in the morning. I hope she feels better as I'm psyched to go.

Wednesday, April 30 – NAPLES, THE “BAD BOY” OF CITIES​

Alice declares "Miracle!" – she is cured - after Bob told us that she wasn’t feeling well and would stay home. I think her cure came about because we discovered we can get to Naples by hydrofoil instead of train. The boat only takes 30 minutes as opposed to two hours on the train.

We left plenty of time and were pleased to find very little traffic through Sorrento, and we now know the direct way to the port. I had called the boat company to check on ports, prices, etc. Transportation and gelati seem quite reasonably priced. On the way to the port we were rear-ended. We saw a black car speeding off and thought it was the one that had hit us. Michael and Bob got out of the car to inspect. No damage to us but the little car which had hit us had a smashed front end. After, the guys tell us that a man on a scooter sped after the black car which had hit the little car causing it to hit us. The scooterist got the black car’s license number and called the police. Another bystander had also written down the number. We left when the police came, preferring not to get any more involved.

We sped to Napoli on the hydrofoil. It took awhile, through lots of traffic, for the taxi to get to the museum. The exhibit at the Museo Archeologico was fantastic. Besides enjoying the regular collection of colossal statues we went to the secret rooms for which you need an appointment: erotica and fabulous mosaics. The special exhibition was about the eruption of Vesuvius and its artifacts, with plaster cast bodies and skeletons from Pompeii and Herculeum. I was so glad we'd been to Pompeii first, as it enriched the experience. The way the exhibit was mounted was superb and most of the cases also had explanations in English. The jewelry, amphorae, even a surgical kit were astonishing.

After a few hours at the museum, we sat outside and had lunch at La Tana del Arte. The Neapolitan pizza with unbrined green olives was as wonderful as we’d expected, but the gypsy children begging at our table were not. They must be frequent visitors as the restaurant owner came out several times and shooed them away. After two delicious shared cake slices for dessert we walked down the main street, Via Toledo, in search of a famous chocolate shop I’d read about. Yes, chocolate and gelati are my favorite indulgences. We found the shop but, of course, it was closed for the lunch hour. So we continued our walk and browsed for awhile in the Rinascente department store. Walked back to the candy store but it was still closed; my chocolate craving went unfulfilled. We found a taxi and went to the marina.

Naples is a noisy big city with lots of traffic. Although the guys were cautiously hiding money, keys, etc, I didn’t feel unsafe. That is, until I saw a young man run out of nowhere, reach into the window of a car that was stopped in traffic, and try to take a woman's purse. She screamed loudly and he took off, his attempted theft unsuccessful. I was naive enough to have thought as I watched this scene, that it was a lover's spat. Only after the initial shock wore off did I realize it had been an attempted robbery. (Later, in Spoleto, I read Michael Dibdin’s fun book Cosi Fan Tutti which takes place in Naples and I could relate to his descriptions.) The little bit of Naples that we experienced was fascinating and I would consider going back for another visit.

By the time we went to the marina it was C.29 - hot. We got to the marina early, had a drink and waited in the hot sun for half an hour for the boat. The ride back was pleasantly cooling.


Bob takes extra security measures in Naples


Back in Massa we stopped in town to get Alice’s sandals fixed and the guys did shopping. Night was lovely so we had my pasta invention (fresh peas, arugula, onion and garlic, tuna, a splash of white wine, pasta water and lots of butter and oil). A little grated grana, Alice' caprese salad and voila, dinner. The Ks would like to take us out to dinner tomorrow so we'll have to think of a place. It will be May Day, a national holiday.

While we were eating a kitten came onto the terrace. There had been reference to a kitten in the guest book but this was the first we’d seen of her.

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